Pregnancy is a time when most women scale down the use of drugs of any kind. Medical professions treating pregnant women typically have a list of safe drugs to take during the pregnancy. Many drugs used to treat serious or long-term illness are not recommended to be taken during pregnancy because of adverse affects on the developing fetus. Many serious illnesses such as bipolar disease must be treated for the well being of the pregnant woman and her unborn baby. What medication options are available for women with Bipolar illness to take safely take during pregnancy?
Commonly Prescribed Bipolar Medications
This medication is a mood stabilizer. It is often prescribed for those with bipolar disorder.
Depakote is generally not recommended to be taken during pregnancy because of the harmful effects it has been shown to have on developing fetuses. Women being seen while they are trying to conceive are usually switched to a safer drug before conception.
Concerns can be minimized if the drug is continued through pregnancy by taking less than 1000 mg daily in separate doses throughout the day and also that pregnant women take vitamin K while on Depakote.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and The American Academy of Neurology have agreed that Depakote has not been shown to be harmful to breast milk supply and is safe for babies to be breastfed when the mom is taking Depakote.
Lithium carbonate. Brand names: Eskalith; Lithobid
Individuals being treated for Bipolar Disorder may encounter the treatment option of being medicated with Lithium because it is considered to be a mainstay drug due to the ability it has to reduce the rate of relapse especially in women after childbirth.
Lithium toxicity can occur in the pregnant woman or her unborn baby if she does not stay well hydrated with water.
Lithium is present in breast milk and babies who are breastfed by moms taking this drug must be monitored for lithium levels in their blood by having routine blood tests performed. Blood lithium levels are also monitored during labor and delivery for the safety of mom and baby.
Brand Names: Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol XR
Generic Name: carbamazepine (oral)
This medication is an anticonvulsant and specific analgesic used to treat patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well as those with seizure disorders or suffering from nerve pain.
According to RxList Tegretol may harm an unborn baby and those who are trying to conceive or discover they are pregnant while taking this medication should tell a doctor immediately but must stop taking the medication without assistance from a doctor.
It is my experience that any time a woman is pregnant no matter what long-term illness or condition she has been diagnosed with all medications she takes should be discussed with the treating physician and her health care professional caring for her during the pregnancy to assure that both her medical condition and her pregnancy needs and concerns are being addressed for the her safety and for the well-being and safety of her unborn child.
All women should seek pre-natal counseling prior to becoming pregnant so that all issues can be addressed before the pregnancy begins. Many of my medications were changed or modified before I conceived and my medical conditions were related to asthma.
We as consumers usually are unaware of all of the adverse effects a medication can have on our bodies when they are stressed such as when pregnant or the effects they may have on a developing fetus until we ask questions and seek out qualified advise about the options we have when it comes to taking medications during pregnancy. It is especially important to explore what pregnant women have as options when it comes to treating bipolar disorder with medications.
NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness; Communities Bipolar Disorder; Managing Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder
RxList The Internet Drug Index; Tegretol http://www.rxlist.com/tegretol-drug-patient.htm
RxList Definition of Lithium http://www.rxlist.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=25566