In a recent article published in Current Psychiatry Online, entitled “Treating bipolar disorder during pregnancy,” assistant clinical professors of psychiatry at Stanford University Mytilee Vemuri, MD, MBA and Katherine Williams, MD provide an excellent summary of the risks and benefits associated with bipolar disorder and its treatment during women’s reproductive years, particularly during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Their article offers detailed information about the relative risks of the most commonly prescribed medications, and provides clear recommendations regarding working with young women with bipolar disorder before, during, and after pregnancy.
Highlights for me were the following:
Goals of planning a pregnancy for a woman on medications for bipolar disorder include the following:
In my practice I have seen several severe post-partum mood episodes – depressed, manic, and mixed. These can be very difficult to treat and present significant risks to mother and the newborn. Careful planning and monitoring are essential. Plans regarding possible breast feeding should be in place early on, including back up plans if there is an episode in postpartum and medications must be restarted or increased.
I have saved this article to my reference file – it is full of key data points and practical guidance. If you are a young woman with bipolar disorder, I recommend that you read it now and file away a copy that you can pull up in the future if you are thinking about getting pregnant. It will be a valuable resource for you, your family, and your doctors.
Photo by Germano Bisson, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.
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Pregnancy Planning for Women with Bipolar Disorder | Bipolar Teen Blog (September 10, 2011)
Last reviewed: 9 Sep 2011