Will my medication affect my baby?

Some types of medication for mental health problems have risks for your baby if you take them when you are pregnant or when you are breastfeeding.

Woman lying on sofa looking concerned.

If you are taking medication for mental health problems it’s important to tell your doctor that you are pregnant as soon as possible.

Do not stop taking medication for mental health problems before talking to your doctor. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms. It could also make your symptoms come back or get worse.

Your doctor will talk to you about any prescription medications you are taking and your options. These may include:

  • taking prescribed medications if you are not already taking any
  • carrying on with your current medication
  • changing your medication to something with a lower risk of side effects for you and baby
  • stopping your medication slowly
  • using other treatments instead of medication, e.g. talking therapy.

To help you decide the best thing to do, your doctor will talk to you about:

  • what mental health condition  you have
  • how your condition affects you
  • how quickly you’ve become unwell if you’ve stopped taking medication
  • what medications have helped you
  • if any medications have caused side effects.

Medication is the best treatment for some mental health conditions. But if you are pregnant and would like to stop taking medication , your doctor should talk to you about your reasons why and give you clear information about the potential risks to you and your baby. You should also be offered talking therapy.

If you decide to take medication when you are pregnant or when you are breastfeeding, you should be offered:

  • the type with the least risk for you and your baby
  •  the lowest amount that will still work
  • (usually) no more than 1 type to take.

Try not to worry if you are pregnant and taking medication for mental health problems. Just try to talk to your doctor or midwife as soon as possible so you can make the best decision for you and your baby about your treatment during pregnancy.

Sources

NICE (2013) Antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

 

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Last reviewed on October 17th, 2018. Next review date October 17th, 2021.

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