Medications and Safety During Pregnancy
Women who take medication for anxiety, depression or other behavioral health conditions worry about whether they’ll need to discontinue use when they conceive. For years, well-intentioned care providers believed this to be the only clinically responsible solution. The reason for this was simple: because it’s considered unethical to test medication on pregnant and nursing mothers, there was no literature to provide evidence for safety.
But we’ve come a long way, and the field of perinatal psychiatry has evolved a great deal. We now have evidence that supports the safety and efficacy of certain medications for some women in the perinatal period from observation and practiced-based data. This is an important piece of the puzzle, as we also know from empirical and longitudinal studies that babies are at a much greater risk for developmental, cognitive and behavioral issues when one or both parents suffer from an untreated mental health condition.
Women who are currently on medications for conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, etc. should seek guidance from their midwives or OB GYNs. If the advice given doesn’t sit well, the next stop should be a consult with a reproductive psychiatrist or a general psychiatrist willing to work with pregnant women on a case-by-case basis.
This can all be confusing but finding a provider you trust who listens to your concerns and considers your whole medical history can make all the difference. You can begin your research journey at institutions at the forefront of the field, such as The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine Dept. of Psychiatry Center for Women’s Mood Disorders. Additionally, to find a specialist in your area (or to connect your provider with reproductive psychiatry training), visit Postpartum Support International.
If you have any other questions, contact us to let us know how we can be of help.