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I Took Prozac While Pregnant. Would You?

By paulabernstein |

Before my husband and I decided to start trying to have a baby, I figured I should try to wean myself off of Prozac. I had been taking the anti-depressant for several years after a couple of bouts of debilitating depression.

After getting the okay from my doctor, I slowly stopped taking my medication. At first, I felt great. But after a few weeks, I was so anxious and depressed that my husband was growing concerned. He gently suggested that I re-think my decision. I saw my doctor and we decided that Prozac was a good choice for me during pregnancy. Luckily, my doctor was supportive of my decision.

Parent Dish interviewed several pregnant women who decided to continue taking anti-depressants despite doctors’ concerns.

Recent reports suggest a link between Wellbutrin and a risk for a newborn heart defect, but the risk is very small – affecting just 2 out of every 1,000 infants born to women who used bupropion (the generic name for Wellbutrin) during the first trimester.

Previous studies have already linked other antidepressants — including some of the most frequently prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft and Celexa – to higher-than-average, though still small, risks of certain birth defects.

“The absolute risk of birth defects is small but still exists,” Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress told Parent Dish. “It can impact birth weight and preterm delivery, but so can depression and anxiety during pregnancy.”

As many as 1 out of 5 women have symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Women who have been depressed before are at higher risk of depression than other women during pregnancy.

Ideally, women should discuss the issue with their doctors before they become pregnant. They then must weigh the risks of potential birth defects from using antidepressants against the risks of going off antidepressants.

A study by The National Institute of Mental Health found that stopping antidepressant use during pregnancy poses its own set of risks. Babies born to depressed mothers may be more irritable, less active and less attentive than other babies. They may also be born prematurely or have low birthweight, according to the March of Dimes.

The Mayo Clinic makes the point that not all antidepressants are appropriate during pregnancy. For instance, they don’t recommend Paxil. You can see their guidelines to antidepressant use during pregnancy here.

In my case, there wasn’t much of a choice — I knew what I had to do for my own well-being as well as for my future children. I stayed on Prozac during both of my pregnancies and I’m happy to report that both of my daughters were born full-term and healthy.

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About paulabernstein

paulabernstein

paulabernstein

Paula Bernstein is a freelance writer and social media manager with a background in entertainment journalism. She is also the co-author of Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited.

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10 thoughts on “I Took Prozac While Pregnant. Would You?

  1. Beth says:

    Before my first pregnancy, I went off of the prozac/wellbutrin combo I had taken for years to treat chronic depression. Ironically, my OB/GYN was the one that recommended I stay medicated, while my psychiatrist encouraged me to get off the meds before getting pregnant. The result was a pregnancy riddled with anxiety and severe mood swings, and a very serious bout of post-partum depression that left me on disability from my job.

    I am pregnant with my second and stayed on my antidepressants this time. For me, the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. The tiny chance of a birth defect is nothing compared to feeling like myself and enjoying a healthy pregnancy, instead of the horrible feelings of hopelessness and dispair that paralyzed me last time.

    I have received some criticism for this choice, but not from anyone who has actually suffered from depression and understands how debilitating it can be. Mental health is just as important as physical health during pregnancy and post-partum.

  2. Katherine Stone says:

    Thanks for sharing your story as well. Many women have to go through the experience of making a choice about whether and how to treat depression or anxiety during pregnancy. I think it’s good for them to hear they aren’t alone. – Katherine Stone, Postpartum Progress, http://www.postpartumprogress.com

  3. Casey says:

    Thanks, even thought at times it seems as thought there are tons of information out there about depression during pregnancy and PPD, it can be very shaming to experience it yourself. After suffering badly during and after my first 2 children to the point of self destructive behavior, holding it all in until someone noticed, I took prozac as well with my last child. The difference was immense. It wasn’t a cure-all, my moods did get pretty dark at times. But overall, a much healthier time. My OB did prefer Prozac, if only for the decades of research and experience with it over newer forms of anti depressants. I strongly encourage all mothers to seek help, every OB/GYN out there practicing now should be versed enough to talk to about it, even if your family isn’t, as was my case.

  4. Casey says:

    To add, I did switch to Celexa after my son’s birth, and got many disapproving “what no breastfeeding” looks from some nurses, including a lecture from one who hadn’t read my chart or spoken to me. Stand strong, being able to be there for your children is worth much more.

  5. Jane says:

    Comments I stopped zoloft for my first pregnancy and it was the worst time in my life. The first three months after she was born were the darkest most terrifying of my life (and for my family too). Until I went back on zoloft. With my second and the full support of doctors, therapists and pediatricians, I stayed on zoloft AND breastfed. I hope I never have to go without it again. Both of my girls are healthy and happy and the only thing I regret is ever stopping.

  6. Alicia says:

    I take Seroquel and Effexor for my bipolar II disorder, and plan on continuing to take them whenever I get pregnant again. It means there’s a slight risk of a problem developing with the baby, and it means I won’t be able to breastfeed again, but I think it’ll be so much better for me, the baby, and my family if I stayed on my medication than get off of it. Any woman who takes psychiatric drugs for her health should never feel guilty staying on her meds while pregnant. A physically and mentally healthy mom means a healthy baby.

  7. Marj says:

    If you need them, you need them. Pregnancy can be stressful, and nobody wants to deal with a major depressive episode while building a human. If I had needed antidepressants while pregnant, I would have taken the safest ones I could. Luckily I didn’t need them, although I started taking them 2 months after the boys were born.

  8. [...] recently wrote about why I took Prozac while pregnant despite the potential risks. When my story ran on Yahoo’s Shine, I was slammed for my [...]

  9. mightydoll says:

    check out motherrisk for info on breastfeeding and antidepressants. I don’t know about seroquel, but breastfeeding while on SSRI’s is safe.

  10. [...] the potential for danger, SD blogger Paula decided to keep taking Prozac while pregnant with both of her daughters, because she felt too distraught off the medication.  In my life, [...]

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