Posted by Barbara Ransom on March 14, 2011
One sunny Saturday afternoon, two months pregnant with my first child, I found myself curled up in bed, in a fetal position nonetheless, trapped by an unrelenting, throbbing headache. Trying to be altruistic, I was torturing myself by cutting out my daily 2 to 3 cups of coffee all at once. I was determined to do what was best for my unborn child, and caffeine was considered a no-no, so I went cold turkey.
The Piña Colada I’d enjoyed 4 weeks earlier, before I even knew I was pregnant, had set off a guilt-induced drive to abstain from anything questionable during pregnancy. I cut out everything from sushi to soft cheeses, hair dye and even topical skin products. I was going to be a miserable pregnant woman just so I could give my child the best from the beginning. I wondered how I survived myself when my own mother smoked while pregnant.
But my struggles were minimal in comparison to what other moms may go through. Imagine a woman with a depression disorder who has relied on Prozac for years, and then becomes pregnant. Should she or can she give up her medication for nine months? Is it wise to stop treatment for a depression disorder while pregnant? Will those wide-ranging pregnancy hormones curb the necessity of Prozac or make it more necessary? What about keeping the mother-to-be safe, along with her unborn child?
Recently there have been reports that Prozac may cause birth defects. These claims point mainly toward increased incidents of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN), which is decreased blood flow to the infant’s lung, and thus decreased oxygen in the bloodstream as well. Even with treatment, there is risk of infant death. Other claims include increased incidents of cardiac conditions and skull defects.
But depression can also increase while pregnant. And a pregnant mother who is depressed or anxious also carries with her increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight and infant sleep disorders. Her mental well-being is as much a concern as what she puts in her body.
It takes a village even before a baby is born. The mother-to-be needs to rely on her practitioners, caregivers, family members, friends, co-workers, as well as her own intuition on how to best treat herself and her unborn child. She should try to find a good balance that will keep her happy, supported and relatively stress-free. The bottom line is that we all take educated risks. Be prepared so that during and after the delivery she can manage any challenges that may arise.