We’ve all seen the memes and jokes on the internet about moms being medicated in order to cope with the stresses of motherhood. And while these memes are certainly entertaining, the issue itself is not a laughing matter. For some people (women, men, mom or not), psychiatric medications can really make a difference in managing one’s mental health. They can greatly improve one’s functioning and quality of life. What’s unfortunate and even dangerous is that the use of these medications still come with a stigma based on misinformation. While anyone who needs these medications can be impacted by this stigma, pregnant or nursing woman are especially affected.
The reality is that some psychiatric practitioners are uncomfortable prescribing medications during pregnancy and some obstetric practitioners may not be familiar with psychiatric medications, therefore creating a public health crisis in which not enough women seeking help are getting adequate treatment.
How did this come to be?
Well, for many years it was thought that exposure to psychiatric medications during pregnancy could adversely affect the developing baby . Over time however, there just hasn’t been enough evidence to support this . In fact, what actually has been proven to be more harmful to an unborn child is a mom who is suffering from depression, anxiety or any other psychiatric condition and not receiving proper treatment. These moms are more likely to miss prenatal care, self-medicate, not get proper nutrition and have a higher risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. This is due to the inflammatory state created by chronic stress.
Per the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Epub 2012 Feb 21), “When a psychiatric condition necessitates pharmacotherapy, the benefits of such therapy far outweigh the potential minimal risks.” This also hold true during breastfeeding, as the amount of medication transferred from mother to baby is significantly decreased.
It’s so important that this information is available to as many folks as possible. As women and as mothers, we are preconditioned to feel guilty if we make our health and wellness a priority. Heaven forbid we do that during pregnancy, when even enjoying a caffeinated beverage can earn you dirty looks from people.
At the end of the day, every baby deserves a healthy and happy mom. In turn, every mom deserves the right to enjoy pregnancy and motherhood.
Here are some great links for reference: