My daughter turned 8 months old yesterday. About two weeks ago she started crawling and just yesterday she started babbling non-stop. I am continuously amazed at how quickly she is growing and changing. And I am intensely grateful that she is a happy, healthy baby. I was hospitalized for bipolar mania when I was just five weeks pregnant. My husband and I had been trying to conceive our second child for seven months and it had finally happened, only to cause me such excitement that I couldn't sleep which lead to my mind racing beyond belief forcing him to sign me into a psych ward for four days. I had been working closely with my psychiatrist to come off the Lithium for the first trimester once I found out I was pregnant and then once the mania took over from the excitement of finally becoming pregnant, I continued to refuse medication because I thought I was doing what was best for the baby growing inside me.
Looking back now I know how very wrong I was.
The main risk that the baby faced if I stayed on Lithium was Ebstein's anomaly, a heart defect. The general population has about a 3% chance of this particular congenital heart condition, and the risk increases to around 6% for a person taking Lithium during pregnancy.
In my case the benefit of staying on medication greatly outweighed the risks of me becoming manic and needing hospitaliztion, and I definitely knew this having done a ton of research beginning back before I became pregnant with my son. But with his pregnancy I was able to somehow stay medication-free throughout those nine months and one month after his birth. And I think I was feeling some mommy-guilt in wanting to give this second baby the same drug-free environment in which to grow and thrive. It only seemed fair.
After spending four nights and five days in a psychiatric facility near our house, I was finally released to the care of my regular psychiatrist after being stabilized on Haldol via injections because I was very resistant to oral medications at the beginning of my hospital stay. They also used Zyprexa since historically I responded so well to it. Of course I was scared to death about how these medications were affecting the baby's development, especially because there is so little research out there on the use of a-typical antipsychotics during pregnancy.
This is what lead me to find the National Pregnancy Registry via an online search. They are collecting information from women who have taken certain antipsychotics during pregnancy and after childbirth to hopefully shed more light on the safety of these medications during pregnancy. They also need women who are currently pregnant and NOT taking these medications, to serve as the control. If you know someone who is willing to participate in this on-going study, please direct them to the site to sign up to join.
It is easy to participate - just a series of brief phone interviews and some completed paperwork releasing medical records is all it takes. They do a baseline interview during the beginning of the pregnancy, a 7-month interview, and a postpartum interview. Simple. Once you finish it will give you a good feeling knowing that you are doing something to help improve the quality of healthcare for pregnant women in the future.