Pregnant and breastfeeding moms should talk to their doctor before changing or stopping any prescriptions, not just antidepressants. Abruptly stopping these medications can cause serious side effects including dizziness, vomiting, sleeping problems, nightmares, tremors, and irritability.
Every healthy pregnancy has a baseline of about a 3% to 5% risk for having a baby with a birth defect. There are many studies about SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressants use in pregnancy. Some of those medications include sertraline, fluoxetine, and citalopram. Looking at all of those studies together, SSRI use in pregnancy is not likely to increase the risk of birth defects or other poor outcomes so they can be taken during pregnancy. Mom may need to increase her antidepressant dose to help her remain stable as her metabolism changes during the pregnancy.
For moms who are breastfeeding, antidepressants can get into the milk in small amounts but are not expected to cause problems for the baby. The research shows normal development for those children compared to developmental problems when mom has untreated depression.
If moms have concerns or questions about a particular medication or her situation, she can call, email, or chat and MotherToBaby will provide her with more information. Their local website with a link to chat is MotherToBaby.utah.gov.