The other day I attended a zoom group about women with bipolar and pregnancy. Dr Clare Dolman was the main speaker dispelling myths and sharing her knowledge on the matter of what it’s like to be bipolar and have children. Clare helped me in particular dispel my greatest fear about getting pregnant and the risk of me passing it onto my child. Apparently there is a one in ten chance of my child having bipolar which is reassuring. The way Clare talked about having a baby and how the positives outweighed the negatives made me rethink my view on having a baby and bringing it into this world. In addition she mentioned that even if my child did develop bipolar as someone who has lived experience with bipolar it would mean I was in a prime position to give support and advice. 

 

Clare focused on the importance of getting a perinatal psychiatrist to help with questions and fears you may have. Something I had never even thought about getting, yet as Clare talked it made perfect sense that having bipolar and wanting a child meant you would need more support than just your partner. Another important message I took home from the sessions was that you don’t have to stop taking your medication when you become pregnant and that there was some medication that were safe to take while being pregnant, one in particular was quetiapine. This was reassuring for a lot of us in the zoom meeting as I for one don’t want to become unwell during or after the pregnancy if it can be helped. However, it should be noted that just because the pregnancy goes without a hitch that doesn’t mean there won’t be any hiccups after. 

 

Clare also brought up the possibility of having postpartum psychosis after the birth of your child, which sounded terrifying, yet as she explained was manageable if you got back on your medication if you had stopped and had the support of your psychiatrist and family. Clare also noted that people without bipolar can also develop postpartum psychosis but they don’t have the advantage of understanding they’re beginning to have a mood episode and need immediate medical help; that  made me feel a tad better. The take home message was by looking after yourself with sleep, diet, exercise, medication and the right support network you can help reduce the toll of having a baby on your mental and physical health. I’m not negating how difficult getting pregnant and giving birth is I’m just highlighting that there are things you can control and there are things out of your control so it’s important to focus on everything you can do to have a successful pregnancy. 

 

I’m only 26 and having a baby is not on the cards anytime soon but it was an eye opening zoom group that helped me realise that having a baby or two was something I could have in the future with the right support and guidance. The group gave me hope for a future and more importantly a future with children in it.  The advice Clare gave was second to none. The work Clare is doing into postpartum psychosis is very interesting and helping spread awareness which is important. 

 

For more information on bipolar and pregnancy you can use our chatbox, our pendulum blog, our eCommunity and you can always get in touch with the fabulous Dr Clare Dolman via emailing the office if you have any further questions.

Just a little note from Dr Clare Dolman:  It was great to see everyone virtually in our zoom group on Tuesday and thank you for contributing to a really good discussion; I hope you found it useful.  

This is a flyer for a research project at Cardiff to develop a decision-making ’tool’ to help women with bipolar thinking about pregnancy.  They need some women in your position to ’test’ it and tell them whether they think it was helpful; which bits could be improved etc.  If some of you could click the link and help with this research I think you’d also find reading the guide helpful in itself.

http://bdrn.org/research/bipolar-pregnancy-childbirth/