It is very common for moms to be worried about taking their mood medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Nurse Al Romeo with MotherToBaby Utah at the Utah Department of Health and Human Services is here today to talk about mood medications and things to remember.
What can happen if moms stop their mood medications in pregnancy?
It is common for moms to hear misleading information and to stop their medications without talking to their providers. Untreated mood conditions in pregnancy can increase the chance for low birthweight babies and preterm labor. A study showed that the cost of the problems for untreated mood conditions in pregnancy is approximately $31,800 per mom and infant pair over the first 5 years of the baby’s life.
Do mood medications increase the chance for birth defects in pregnancy?
For most mood medications, we do not see an increase in the chance of birth defects over that baseline chance that every pregnancy has before any exposures. Moms often hear warnings about using these medications in the third trimester. If moms stop their medications abruptly,
they may have symptoms like irritability or difficulty sleeping. What this means for the pregnancy is that at birth less of the medication gets into the breastmilk than across the placenta, so baby may have these side effects also and they may be called neonatal adaption. If that does happen, the symptoms may last for a few days or weeks. But again, the untreated condition is usually worse for baby.
Can moms keep using their mood medications while breastfeeding?
Most mood medications get into the milk in small amounts and often don’t cause side effects. There are some exceptions, so moms should ask about their medications. The side effect to watch for, usually, is drowsiness or baby floppy and not able to wake up to feed, play, or cry. Again, the untreated mood conditions in breastfeeding are usually worse for baby than the medications. Moms and providers can contact us at MotherToBaby.Utah.gov and we’ll explain the details for those medications.
Links to websites or resources: See the fact sheet about untreated depression at https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/depression-pregnancy/.
See the fact sheet about untreated anxiety at https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/anxiety-fact/.