If you suffer from bipolar disorder, it is important to understand how trying to conceive (TTC), pregnancy and the postpartum period will affect your mental health. Though bipolar disorder does not interfere with your fertility, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind.
What do I need to know about bipolar disorder when trying to conceive?
Always remember that your bipolar disorder does not have to control your life or decision to have a baby. However, you should talk to your doctor before you start trying. They will be able to give you the best advice on your medication. Mental health plays a big role in fertility, according to the Office on Women's Health, which is why it is important to stay positive and manage your bipolar disorder. The Office on Women's Health recommends seeking talk therapy, as studies show that this actually improves success rates for pregnancy.
How does bipolar disorder affect pregnancy?
A big misconception about mood stabilizers, antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs used for managing bipolar disorder, is that they automatically cause birth defects. While it is true that some medications can cause birth defects, including spina bifida, cleft palate and heart and lung defects, these defects are not as common as you may think (1 in 1,000 to 1 in 2,000).
For many doctors and expectant mothers, however, this may seem like too great of a risk. The most important thing to remember is you should never immediately stop taking your prescribed medications. Talk with your doctor ahead of time in order to determine the best option for you. Decreasing your dosage slowly is the best way to keep manic and depressive cycling from occurring. Another option your doctor may try is to put you on a medication with fewer side effects.
How can bipolar disorder affect the postpartum period?
The postpartum period is generally the most difficult for women who suffer from bipolar disorder. Women with bipolar disorder are also 50% more likely to suffer from postpartum psychosis, which could result in suicide or infanticide. This is why many women with bipolar disorder opt to go back to taking their medications in full the day their child is born. The best thing you can do is discuss your options with your doctor in order to be prepared.