When I saw the headline, “Do Pregnancy & Bipolar Disorder Mix?”, I got nervous. But then I read the CNN.com story and was pleasantly surprised. It is well-balanced and quotes true experts like Dr. Meg Spinelli and Dr. Catherine Birndorf.

The article outlines some of the difficult decisions for women who have bipolar disorder and then become pregnant. Research shows that medications often prescribed to bipolar women, such as Depakote, Tegretol and Lithium, lead to an increased risk for birth defects such as spina bifidaor cleft palate. At the same time, women who go off these medications while pregnant are highly likely to relapse.Additionally, bipolar disorder (diagnosed or undiagnosed) is a key risk factor for postpartum psychosis.

It seems to me the best thing a bipolar woman can do is work closely with an experiencedreproductive psychiatrist to create a plan that works best for her individual situation and to be carefully cared for during the pregnancy and postpartum. Plenty of women with bipolar disorder have children and positive outcomes.

For additional resources, the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Women’s Mental Health has done a recent series on medications for bipolar disorder and their impact on pregnancy or breastfeeding that will be helpful for someone considering getting pregnant.

Valproic Acid [Depakote, Depakon] & the Risk of Major Malformations

Lithium and Breastfeeding

What’s Safer for Breastfeeding: Lithium or Lamotrigine [Lamictal]?

Anticonvulsant Use In Pregnancy & Nursing: Differences in Recommendations From Psychiatrists Vs. Neurologists