Set a trial period
First of all, have an open and honest conversation with a healthcare provider. The earlier a woman begins finding alternatives for regular medications, the smoother the pregnancy will be. For example, some women may want to go through a trial period of going off any medications before even trying to get pregnant. Aim to spend at least six months working with a healthcare provider to find a suitable solution before getting pregnant.
What if I don’t have six months?
Some women may wish to start trying to pregnant sooner, especially those who may be older or wanting to start fertility treatments. The good news is that some medications are safe to take during pregnancy. A healthcare provider may recommend an alternative prescription that carries fewer risks for an unborn baby. For example, some serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are safe, while others are not. A healthcare provider can point women in the right direction.
What else can I do for my mental health?
In addition to assessing medications, women should find alternative strategies for managing mental health. For example, if a woman with anxiety knows that pregnancy will involve weaning off regular medications, this is an opportunity to engage in other mental health management strategies. Talking with a therapist, exercising, meditating, or even getting a massage can all be helpful supplemental strategies for managing mental health effectively.
Risks vs benefits
Some women may hesitate to take any medications during pregnancy, even if a healthcare provider deems the medicine safe. At that point, women should have a conversation with the healthcare provider about risks and benefits. While going medication-free may sound appealing, being severely anxious or depressed with a newborn is not good for the baby either. Women should aim to find a happy medium where both physical and mental health are a priority.
Pregnancy can bring up a host of conflicting emotions, even for women who normally feel mentally healthy. For those who deal with an underlying mental health diagnosis, the process can be even more overwhelming. Start the conversation with a healthcare provider early and be proactive about finding a solution that works. For more information about managing mental health during pregnancy, speak with a healthcare provider.