Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

When mentally ill women become pregnant

When women with a mental illness become pregnant some families are concerned that the illness could affect the unborn child. Families must be reassured that mental illnesses are not ‘infectious’ and the baby will not be affected. Some families may ask about the genetic risk of the illness being passed onto the baby.
You should say that, apart from severe mental disorders, there is no risk. For mothers with severe mental disorders, you can say that the baby is far more likely to be completely healthy than not. Mothers who suffer from mental retardation may need more time for you to explain what is happening to their bodies.
Another important issue is the dangers of medication to the baby. As a general rule, avoid any psychiatric medicine in the first three months of pregnancy. In particular, drugs such as lithium, antipsychotic medicines and anti-anxiety medicines should be avoided. Antidepressants are safer. During the period
when a mother is breastfeeding her baby, avoid unnecessary medicines. In reality, there is only a tiny risk of medicines being passed into the breast milk. If the mother is disturbed or very depressed, remember that medicines may help improve her mood. This, in turn, will help her bond with her baby, which is very
important for the mother and her baby.

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