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Pregnant With Bipolar

Question:

I know I have bipolar that is not a shock for me. I was always able to take care of myself but now I am pregnant and I am worried about the baby. Will i be able to care for my child with the disease I have and is there a chance that my child will have the same disease? What is the percentage of my child getting this? I got it from my grandmother. I am married and I do not take meds. It has been really hard for me to hold a job because when I get into my depressed part I can’t get out of bed to go to work. I have different episodes everyday to twice a day. Thank you

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Answer:

First, let me state that you do not have a disease. You have a disorder and there is the world of difference. Having Bipolar disorder does not mean that you "caught it" like a cold or virus. You have a chemical imbalance in your brain that causes the shifting of moods from depression to mania in this disorder. These shifts in mood cause unfortunate behavioral changes and that is why this is a behavioral disorder and brain disorder and not a disease.

Second, your question of whether or not your baby will inherit this disorder is difficult to assess because the answer depends upon many genetic factors that I know nothing about. For example, if your husband does not have this disorder and no one in his family history ever had the disorder then it reduces the chances that your children will inherit Bipolar disorder. However, they will inherit the gene that you have for it. Even though your children will carry the gene for Bipolar it will be "recessive" and that means that they will have none of the symptoms. If your husband does carry a gene for it then it increases the chances that your children will actually have the disorder. If you both have Bipolar disorder your children have a fifty percent chance of inheriting it. See what I mean when I say it’s difficult to predict?

Third, your ability to care for your child depends on the severity of the disorder whether or not you take medications. Certainly, after giving birth it would make sense for you to take the medications necessary for you to control you symptoms and function in ways that will allow you to handle the responsibilities that come with mothering a baby. You need to ask your doctors if it’s alright for you to breast feed after giving birth and starting medications. If not you can bottle feed much as many women do today for a variety of reasons, both personal and necessary. In my opinion caring properly for your baby is more important than breast feeding.

I would suggest that if your mother or other relatives are available to assist you in caring for your baby that you use their help. Keeping stress at a minimum is important, along with medications, in controlling this disorder.

Medication and support or help from family and friends are the keys to allowing you to nurture your baby.

By the way, I assume your husband works but when he is home he should be able to help as well.

Best of luck

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    I am taking 125 mg chlorpromazine and 10 mg olazapine daily and am stable. I plan to get pregnant. My doctor says I will have to get off the medication when pregnanat. But that will bring back the symptoms of Psychosis. What effect will that have on my health and the baby and my ability to cope? When in acute state in the past I have been suicidal, hallucinating delusion. thank you.

  • Nelly

    And just why are you not on medication? From what you describe, you are so unstable. I was off medication with much fewer symptoms than you, I thought I had it under control, I got my science PhD, had counseling, got a good job, bought a condo, marriage was doing well, I got pregnant... I was doing so well! Yet you can't run away from your biology. I think mania was already revving up during my pregnancy. After I delivered, I was SO unstable, and spinning further out of control, partly due to sleep deprivation, which WILL kick your butt. I couldn't care for my daughter, I couldn't do my job... And it got worse from there. At one point my mom had to come and stay with us and help out. It's been 2.5 years now, and finally on the right medication, I'm slowly recovering. Once I felt the posivite effect of the correct medication, I was kicking myself, and kicking, and kicking, for not being on meds a long time ago.

    Bottom line - get yourself on some medication as soon as you deliver. Forget breastfeeding. Find a psychiatrist now, before you deliver, talk about your history, get a diagnosis, make a plan, and when you deliver, simply implement. Good luck!

    -------------

    To the other reader - of all mood-stabilizing drugs, lithium appears to be one of the safest choices, and it works really well. Talk to your doctor. The unsafe window for lithium is only weeks 6-8. On top of it, the risk seems to be small, and the potential heart defect (Ebstein's anomaly) not very limiting for the child. I plan to talk to my doctor about staying on lithium throughout the pregnancy.

  • stacey

    what is bipolar?

    Editor's Note: Bipolar Disorder is a variety of depression characterized by mood swings between depressive and energized or manic states. You can read more about it in our Bipolar Disorder topic center.

  • Candice

    Hello,

    I just wanted to add, that as difficult as it is (& it is, don't get me wrong) - it is possible to have children while having this disorder.

    I fell pregnant at age 22 (after 3yrs of trying) and managed to have an uneventful pregnancy without any meds...

    Gave 100%, drug-free, natural birth to my gorgeous son on 18th May 2007. Developed post-natal depression 2weeks afterwards, but together with my pdoc, a good support network, GOD and the right meds I was able to manage.

    You will be FINE!!! (Seek help when you need it!!!!)

    Good luck & God Bless xxx

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