Autistic & Pregnant: Should I Take Anti-depressants During Pregnancy?

image shows title reading Autistic and pregnant should I take antidepressants during pregnancy www.chatterfox.co.uk to the left is an image of various pills and medications on a bright yellow background.

I'm not writing this post to cause controversy and I know that some people will not agree with the decision I made but for many people with a wide variety of health conditions it's a decision that needs to be made. As explained by my doctor, a lot of medication is not tested on pregnant women purely because of the ethics involved and because of that it's very difficult for medical professionals to know which medication is safe. Tests are performed on pregnant animals, something which doesn't sit well with me but I do understand the need for it. So often the best a doctor can tell you is how the medication affects animal foetuses and then it's down to you to decide if it's a risk worth taking.
Before we decided to try for a baby I spoke to a few doctors about the implications of staying on my medication and I got a very wide range of responses. I have been taking 100mg Sertraline daily for many years now and have found that it has greatly assisted me in keeping my mood stable, my emotions under control and my obsessive compulsive tendencies at a manageable level.  The first doctor I spoke to was very understanding of why I take Sertraline and said that sometimes the risk to baby is small in comparison to the risk to the mother if they come off medication. At the time I was relieved to hear this, it was reassuring to know that I had some support if I decided to stay on the tablets. The next doctor I spoke to had the complete opposite opinion and almost demanded that I stop taking my medication immediately. This was very daunting for me. This doctor also said that having autism didn't have an effect on pregnancy and vice versa. This is not the case, autism is a factor in everything I do and pregnancy is sadly no exception. I am self aware enough to know that pregnancy would have a huge effect on my body, my mental stability, my 'rules' and that it could be a potential trigger for a bout of serious mental illness. I found her lack of understanding very upsetting. The last doctor I saw offered a more balanced viewpoint and fully explained the research behind what she said. She informed me that animal studies have shown a slight increase in the chances of a heart defect. She also said that there is no human research to compare that to. I was also informed that I could switch to an older antidepressant for the first 12 weeks and then back to Sertraline for the rest of the pregnancy. I left this appointment feeling like I'd been given a full explanation of my options though the difficult decision was still to be made.

My partner and I spoke at length about our options and I talked it through with a close friend and my mum. Ultimately though the decision lay with me. Only I know what my mind and body can endure and I had made my decision which thankfully was supported by those around me. I had decided that the risk to myself was greater than the risk to my baby. I knew that changing medication temporarily wouldn't work for me. The older drugs offered had caused me many side effects before and as I had settled so well on the Sertraline withdrawing from it altogether wasn't a viable option for me, I feared my mental health would decline to a point where I was at risk. As explained by that first doctor 'an unhealthy mum can't grow a healthy baby' and she was right. Pregnancy is difficult enough without adding antidepressant withdrawal and medication upheaval to the mix. In order to do the best for my baby I had to do what was best for myself. It wasn't an easy decision and I know that if anything is wrong with my child then I will blame myself as I carried on taking the tablets. My only defence is that I did what I thought was right and I tried my best which is all any mum ever strives to do.

 Thanks For Reading 

Katrina Fox UK based parenting blogger. Writing about Coeliac / celiac disease, Aspergers Syndrome and Autism, Pregnancy, Parenting and both Childrens and Adults Books

5 comments:

  1. You are strong and brave to write this. Ii salute you. Mental health matters and I know how not having it can devestate lives. All power to you. #MischiefandMemories

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  2. You sound to me like a very brave and sensible woman who looked at her options sensibly and with caution. You made the right decision for you and your family. Sending love xx #MischiefAndMemories

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  3. It is a tricky problem and a careful balance has to be made between the health of mother and child but as you say a healthy mum is essential for a healthy baby. Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAndMemories (please remember to complete commenting on other links by 9pm on Fridays)

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  4. Katrina, as Kate has said.. you are brave and strong to put your view point out in your writing. I also salute you too! These are the conversations that are going to help other mums who also face decisions like these. Not to convince them one way or another, but just so that they know they are not alone in this. Thank you for sharing such an honest post with us on #MischiefAndMemories

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  5. Gosh that must have been such a tricky decision and so stressful for you. Thanks for such an honest post and for being with us on #MischiefandMemories this week. We hope to see you again next week.

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Thank you for supporting me on my journey to raise awareness about mothers on the autistic spectrum. We do exist, we just need people to know we do!

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