Pills vs. Pregnancy: Which Would You Choose?

Hopefully the title caught your attention.  No, I’m not referring to a drug addiction, I’m referring to taking anti-anxiety medication and/or antidepressants while pregnant.  I recently posed a question about antidepressants & pregnancy on Facebook, and the overwhelming response was in favor of no medication for a healthy pregnancy.

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I recently found myself in the position of having to choose: pregnancy or medication.  The choice, reluctantly, was medication.  I’ve known people who have continued taking medication for anxiety and/or depression during pregnancy, with no ill effects for the baby, and even had people respond on my Facebook page that their doctor’s advised them to continue meds.  As I have a choice (at the moment), I prefer to not to take any meds during pregnancy.  I understand that pregnancies are often unplanned, and the risks going off of medication are greater than continuing (stressful pregnancy = stressed-out baby); thankfully, I’m able to choose to avoid pregnancy while leveling out on medication.

I’ve been very candid about my back-to-back miscarriages, and the PPD I suffered after each, but only recently did I finally consider taking medication.  After two weeks of daily panic attacks, 4 doctor visits and a trip to the ER, I was finally diagnosed with a panic disorder and depression, as a result of my losses.  This, my friends, is what happens when you put off taking care of yourself, bury yourself in work (and don’t grieve properly).  The panic attacks, I believe, were the result of unresolved issues surrounding my miscarriages.  I had been stuffing my feelings and not dealing with my losses properly, so I was like a time bomb going off once we embarked upon our recent move and unpacking.  I was so overwhelmed with everything on my plate that I was literally having panic attacks thinking about everything I had to tackle.  I was irritable, suffering from the most intense anxiety I’d ever experienced, and my quality of life was suffering immensely.  I began therapy and was prescribed Zoloft for my anxiety.  Within days of taking Zoloft I felt relief (it also coincided with a break in the dreary winter weather, which helps a great deal).  As Zoloft is not recommended for breastfeeding, I weaned Declan (he was ready, as I’ve had absolutely no pushback in the month since he stopped).  There are risk factors associated with Zoloft and pregnancy, so adding to our family has been postponed.

Making the decision to forego getting pregnant was not an easy one, and I still have days where I question the decision.  I should add that I did not make this decision on my own.  My therapist and my husband were also in on the decision, and I am on-board to postpone trying to conceive until I have reached and maintained a leveled-out place for a few months.  If I was younger, this decision would not have been as difficult, but I’ll be 37 in a couple of months and my window for having children is closing.  I know that women are having children in their 40s, and I know of several women who had healthy pregnancies and babies in their 40s, but I don’t want to be pregnant in my 40s.  And why would I want to be pregnant in my 40s when I am able to get pregnant now?

So many things run through my mind:  What if I’m not as fertile as I was last year?  Will postponing conceiving a few months really make a difference?  Will I have to be on this medication…forever?  Will I be able to maintain my serenity throughout pregnancy without the aid of medication?  What if my D&E’s have made it impossible to conceive/carry a baby to term (I suffered a chemical pregnancy the cycle before last)?  And the biggest question of all: am I meant to only have one child?

Thankfully, I don’t have to figure it all out today, or even tomorrow.  I’m simply taking each day as it comes, and overcoming each obstacle as it arises.

Have you had to take prescription medication during pregnancy?  If so, what was your experience with it?  Would you take anti-anxiety/antidepressants during pregnancy (and breastfeeding)?

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Comments

  1. says

    i wouldn’t take it unless I literally could not function. I was paranoid during this entire last pregnancy. I found myself going into a fetal position more than once, screaming at the kids when they dared to touch other kids (they could be sick, stay AWAY!), I had multiple problems with the pregnancy regarding my own health… and on and on… and despite this I have an extremely happy healthy baby. It didn’t matter that I was panicky or upset. (had a miscarriage right before this one, too, so probably part of it)…Actually my first pregnancy was my smoothest and she’s my problem child, the other 2 were stressful pregnancies and they are the happiest 2 and baby year olds you’ve ever met. lol. Obviously if you can’t function, then.. you know. take the meds. I too am nearing the ‘great cutoff’ and breastfeed extended so if I continue to have issues post last-kid weaning, I’ll probably see someone. At this point though, I’ll embrace the kids on good days and let tv/books/ my husband take over when days are bad.
    Jill S recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2014My Profile

    • says

      I won’t take meds while breastfeeding or pregnant (unless absolutely necessary), but the panic attacks are what pushed me into pursuing meds — they were terrifying! I like the idea of letting go of the reigns when tough days occur — part of my problem is that I try to fight them (and fight with a toddler)! Thanks for your input :)

  2. M says

    Curious as to where you got your information regarding Zoloft not being safe to take while breastfeeding and pregnant? Most SSRI’s are safe to take, as they metabolize quickly and don’t accumulate enough to pass much if any amount into milk (There are a few exceptions including Prozac). In fact, Zoloft is the single most studied SSRI taken during pregnancy, and that is why it is usually tried before any other medications.

    • says

      My doctor told me that I was not to take the medication while breastfeeding and I was, in no uncertain terms, not to get pregnant while taking it. If I was hellbent, he wanted me to discuss with my OB. I did my research before being prescribed Zoloft, and know that it is the safest of the bunch, but it still not 100% safe to take. I was not concerned about breastfeeding, as my little guy was a toddler, but the studies showing baby heart defects, being linked directly to moms who took Zoloft during pregnancy, were enough to make me decide to put off trying to conceive. Everyone has a different level of comfortability with taking meds while pregnant/nursing, and I prefer not to take any to be on the safe side (and luckily, have the choice in this circumstance). If I absolutely HAD to be on Zoloft while pregnant, I would, but I’d rather not take the chance.

  3. says

    Oh gosh, BIG HUGS! With both pregnancies I’ve been able to taper off of meds before getting pregnant, and remain off of them until symptoms returned (at 8 months post-partum with each kids – something about that length of time is as long as my brain can keep me sane, I guess!) but my doctors and I always discuss a backup plan for if/when I feel that the risks of my being unmedicated are greater than the risks to the baby from the meds (and which meds would be preferable from the available options). I know finding that tipping point of risks and benefits is going to be different for each person, but I’m personally quite comfortable taking medications when pregnant (with my doctor’s approval, obviously. I’m not just randomly popping pills!) though my first choice was to attempt going without them. Just like my first choice for my second child was a VBAC, but I settled for a repeat c-section when I started developing pre-eclampsia again ;) I will say, though, that the irony for me (because I spent a TON of time and money before I first got pregnant making sure I had all my ducks in a row) is that being pregnant is the time that I mentally feel the best. My body falls apart, but my head does GREAT when I’m pregnant ;) That’s apparently not uncommon, though obviously not something to count on! But I did just want to throw it out there to give you hope that after you give yourself time to work through this and feel happy and stable, you might be able to go off the meds and be totally fine when pregnant :) But so glad right now that you’re getting the help and support you need!
    Carolyn recently posted…The Weirdest Nightmares EverMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you for sharing your experience – I love to hear from women who have encountered this issue. I am similar – my body falls apart during pregnancy, but I do well mentally (funny thing, that). I suppose it’s akin to having a “birthing plan,” where you try to have every aspect organized and accounted for…but baby has other plans (I was all set to have a water birth in a birthing center, but my little was stuck siting Indian-Style from 5 months on, no matter how many techniques I tried to turn him…c-section it was!). I suppose the only way I’ll know is to dive right in… ;)

      • says

        Hahaha, so true! My first was born 3.5 weeks early when he was breach, I developed pre-eclampsia, and my water had broken without my realizing it. We went into L&D for some possible bleeding (PRETTY sure that they’d just turn me around and send me home) and next thing I knew I was scheduled for surgery! I laugh a little bit inside when people spent hours obsessing over what to pack in their bag to take to the hospital, because all I had with me was my husband and my purse. We hadn’t even picked out a NAME yet! So you really can only plan for so much and the rest you just make do with ;) (Though I do think advance planning is important when dealing with mental health issues, so I don’t want to downplay that part! It’s just that at the end of the day, you won’t know how it’ll work out until it happens!)
        Carolyn recently posted…The Weirdest Nightmares EverMy Profile

  4. Robin Wilson says

    If I were suffering from severe to moderate depression and/or panic (anxiety) attacks I would probably opt for the lowest dose of the safest medication. I have Lupus and had to take a high dose of prednisone during the entire pregnancy and after. It was either take meds for depression or suffer from it in a bad way. There will always be those on both sides of the fence, but I would only let my doctor and my body and state of mind determine.

    • says

      Thank you for joining the discussion – I love hearing others opinions on this issue. I have an appointment with a new doctor, so we’ll see where we go from there!

  5. says

    No es verdad que despues de un parto por cesárea la leche materna tarde más en salir. Esto solo ocurre cuando se tarda mucho en hacer la primera amamantada, si se separa a la madre del recien nacido y si se le dan biberones, suero o chupetes, espaciando las amamantadas.

    Liu

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