Pills vs. Pregnancy: Which Would You Choose?

3 years ago

Hopefully the title caught your attention. No, I'm not referring to a drug addiction. I'm referring to taking anti-anxiety medication and/or antidepressants while pregnant. I recently posed a question about antidepressants and pregnancy on Facebook, and the overwhelming response was in favor of no medication for a healthy pregnancy.

Image: e-Magine Art via Flickr

I recently found myself in the position of having to choose: pregnancy or medication. The choice, reluctantly, was medication. I've known people who have continued taking medication for anxiety and/or depression during pregnancy, with no ill effects for the baby, and even had people respond on my Facebook page that their doctor's advised them to continue meds. As I have a choice (at the moment), I prefer to not to take any meds during pregnancy. I understand that pregnancies are often unplanned, and the risks going off of medication are greater than continuing (stressful pregnancy = stressed-out baby); thankfully, I'm able to choose to avoid pregnancy while leveling out on medication.

I've been very candid about my back-to-back miscarriages and the PPD I suffered after each, but only recently did I finally consider taking medication. After two weeks of daily panic attacks, four doctor visits and a trip to the ER, I was finally diagnosed with a panic disorder and depression as a result of my losses. This, my friends, is what happens when you put off taking care of yourself, burying yourself in work (and don't grieve properly).

The panic attacks, I believe, were the result of unresolved issues surrounding my miscarriages. I had been stuffing my feelings and not dealing with my losses properly, so I was like a time bomb going off once we embarked upon our recent move and unpacking. I was so overwhelmed with everything on my plate that I was literally having panic attacks thinking about everything I had to tackle. I was irritable, suffering from the most intense anxiety I'd ever experienced, and my quality of life was suffering immensely.

I began therapy and was prescribed Zoloft for my anxiety. Within days of taking Zoloft, I felt relief . (It also coincided with a break in the dreary winter weather, which helps a great deal.) As Zoloft is not recommended for breastfeeding, I weaned Declan. (He was ready, as I've had absolutely no pushback in the month since he stopped.) There are risk factors associated with Zoloft and pregnancy, so adding to our family has been postponed.

Making the decision to forgo getting pregnant was not an easy one, and I still have days where I question the decision. I should add that I did not make this decision on my own. My therapist and my husband were also in on the decision, and I am on-board to postpone trying to conceive until I have reached and maintained a leveled-out place for a few months. If I was younger, this decision would not have been as difficult, but I'll be 37 in a couple of months and my window for having children is closing. I know that women are having children in their 40s, and I know of several women who had healthy pregnancies and babies in their 40s, but I don't want to be pregnant in my 40s. And why would I want to be pregnant in my 40s when I am able to get pregnant now?

So many things run through my mind: What if I'm not as fertile as I was last year? Will postponing conceiving a few months really make a difference? Will I have to be on this medication... forever? Will I be able to maintain my serenity throughout pregnancy without the aid of medication? What if my D&E's have made it impossible to conceive/carry a baby to term? (I suffered a chemical pregnancy the cycle before last.) And the biggest question of all: am I meant to only have one child?

Thankfully, I don't have to figure it all out today, or even tomorrow. I'm simply taking each day as it comes, and overcoming each obstacle as it arises.

Have you had to take prescription medication during pregnancy? If so, what was your experience with it? Would you take anti-anxiety/antidepressants during pregnancy (and breastfeeding)?

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