Bipolar disorder Pendulum: stories and information Becoming a parent with bipolar When discussing children, everyone has their own view. Some want them, some don’t and I’m not here to judge anyone for their own personal decision. For me, I always wanted to become a mother and from a very young age I wanted a family. I was lucky enough to meet the love of my life at 17 and we are still going strong to this day. When I got diagnosed with Bipolar in 2015, I did a lot of research into pregnancy and children whilst battling with bipolar on a daily basis. There was some conflicting information; was it hereditary? Would my medication harm the baby? My family was worried, they didn’t know how I would manage the usual hormones during pregnancy with my bipolar and how I would handle the post-partum side of it all. It led to a lot more research and going back and forth in my mind. I wanted a child and I would do anything to have that family I had always dreamt of, but what price would it come with? The day I fell pregnant, I cried in the shower for 30 minutes before going down to tell my then fiancée. I was overjoyed, finally my dream was coming true. However, I was petrified of what was to come. We had been trying for 2 weeks when I got the two pink lines, so not long to wrap my head around the idea or even argue with myself. It was happening. We had made the decision to try for a baby after a good run in my mental health and I felt stable with my medication. I had got the all clear from my mental health team to get pregnant with my current medication, my family were supportive and my husband was excited at the prospect of a baby of our own. None of this stopped me thinking- could I be a good mother with bipolar? What if I had a crisis whilst the baby was here, or even worse whilst I was pregnant? These thoughts didn’t leave me in the whole 9 months I was pregnant, and still now to be honest, 2 and a half years later. Anxiety in pregnancy I obsessed during the pregnancy with my own health and that of my baby’s. Constantly checking for a kick, and panicking when I couldn’t feel her move. Stressing when I cried, because I didn’t know if it was a hormonal pregnant bad day or a bipolar blip to come. It was a tough time. I had made peace with the fact that I may not be a perfect mother or a conventional one, but I was going to try my best and do whatever I could for this little human growing inside me, even if that meant travelling to the hospital AGAIN to check the baby’s heart beat or my own health. My fiancé was a god send- he never complained when I said I was going to the hospital again or when I cried because I burnt my toast. With the support of my mental health team and my incredible family I got through it with a healthy pregnancy and had a beautiful baby girl at the end of it all. I was being watching like a hawk by my family and my mental health team in the aftermath of my daughters’ birth. I was warned throughout my pregnancy I could suffer with post-partum psychosis, and me being me, did my research. Well that just terrified me more! However, I was lucky to escape that. I may have had a bit of post-partum depression, struggling to bond with her at the beginning, not feeling like my all was good enough and afraid to ask for help, but I got through it. I was one of the lucky ones and my mental health stayed stable throughout my pregnancy and after. Bipolar and parenting Now I have a healthy, happy 2-year-old who loves me to bits. As she grows up, I will be honest with her and tell her that Mummy has bad days where she cries and days when she feels overly happy and excited. This will not stop me being a good mum or change the amount of love we have for each other. We will learn as we go, adapting to the changes in my mental health, and we will do so as a family unit. I know it is scary but it is so fulfilling and rewarding. If it’s something you want to do, I would encourage it, but make sure you talk to friends, family and health care professionals first. Safety is the key, and making sure you stay safe with your child is so important. Don’t be afraid to ask for help- it is there for you and it doesn’t make you any less of a woman or a mother. If you would like to comment on any aspect of our blog, or for information about submitting your own piece, please email [email protected] Bipolar UK offer three support services: eCommunity - a 24/7 forum for information, support and advice from others affected by bipolar, with a section dedicated to pregnancy and parenting Support Groups - usually face to face meetings and currently online with some dedicated to specific topics Peer Support Line - a phone and email service offering one to one support Find out more about Bipolar UK support services. Your donation will help provide a range of services offering the support people need, when they need it. You can make sure there's someone at the end of the phone to listen, a nearby group to share experiences, a 24-hour peer forum and more. Together, we can support the person behind the diagnosis of bipolar.