I Took Anti-Depressants While Pregnant And It Saved Our Lives

Why do we judge expecting moms for taking prescription drugs when it may be keeping them safe and healthy?

Lots of women experience strong emotions during pregnancy. The extreme highs and lows that come with having a baby can literally become an emotional roller coaster. The dips and drops are experiences every pregnant woman in the history of ever can relate.

What’s isolating, though, is the stigma that comes when it’s not just normal pregnancy hormones. It can feel like people start to judge when you can’t solve the sadness with a tub of ice cream or some other comfort food. Sometimes you need something a little bit stronger, and, despite what a lot of people may say, that’s actually okay.

My pregnancy was complicated by an existing clinical depression diagnosis. It was more than just hormones wreaking havoc on my emotional stability. I struggled with it on and off for over ten years and pregnancy was no exception. It was more than simply being sad. It was a chemical imbalance in my brain and I couldn’t “just be happy I was having a healthy baby” and get over it, as some folks unhelpfully suggested.

I needed more help than that and that’s why I reached out.

My baby grew safely and flourished thanks to the support of a qualified and compassionate reproductive psychiatrist. She helped us both thrive. She was there for me, talking things through with me when I needed that. She also helped with my legitimate medical need for pharmaceutical support to stabilize my moods. Those little purple pills saved both of our lives. My doctor helped me make an informed decision about continuing medication through my pregnancy.

As an expectant mom, I read books about all the things I needed to consider when planning what I took into my body for the health of my child. Every week I had fish for brain development, but nothing that might be exposed to mercury and nothing raw. I was prolific and obsessive about reading everything I could to make sure my baby was safe.

For that reason, every day, I took my medication… does that sound crazy to you?

I get it, trust me. I read all the same articles as everyone else about of the risk of taking psychiatric medications during pregnancy. And many well-intentioned individuals were very “helpful” in reminding me of these risks, even when I didn’t ask for their opinion.

What these people who judge my decisions didn’t realize was the risk posed to my baby if I didn’t take what the doctor had legitimately ordered. Untreated depression is no joke for anyone, including an expecting mom.

I wasn’t willing to take the chance of early labour or the stress my unborn child would endure if I were to go off my existing medications. These risks were enough to balance my concerns of any potential side effects if I continued. I discussed my dilemma with my doctor and we decided what was safest for the baby was for me to keep going with my treatment. I was determined to make sure that both of us would be healthy when baby finally arrived.

He arrived safely and continuing treatment after his arrival ensured we remained healthy. I am truly thankful that I was so well supported and I don’t regret my decision. I have a healthy, happy little boy and he has a healthy, happy mom who is well equipped to care for him.

For most women, the highs and lows are temporary and subside after birth. Mood stability is achieved naturally and resolved through simple biology and time. Not all of us are so lucky. When you already struggle with depression and staying mood stable, pregnancy can be difficult. There is support available to keep both mom and baby safe, so definitely discuss your concerns with your primary health care provider. There is no reason to go through this alone, and it’s absolutely possible to get off the roller coaster. 

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