Q&A: Bipolar and breastfeeding

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A reader asks:

I am four months pregnant. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder four years ago. My pregnancy was planned carefully, and my medication adjusted so that there is little passed to the baby, but my psychiatrist has informed me that I won't be able to breastfeed because the meds will be concentrated in my milk. I'm concerned about how I will deal with bottle-feeding when I am still in hospital. Won't my baby want to latch immediately? Won't hospital staff disagree?

Tina Otte answers:

I applaud you on how proactive you have been! Moms with chronic conditions are advised to do just what you have done – stabilise the condition, adjust medication to the safest option and lowest dose, continue treatment through pregnancy in communication with their treating doctor, and plan for the post-partum period.

There are medications which we advise moms not to breastfeed on, and it's possible that the doses you are on will need to be increased to compensate for the hormonal changes. Adequate rest will be very important to you so get family and friends to help.

Breastfeeding is a choice and the decision is up to each mom. You have made a safe choice for your baby and yourself. Bottle-feeding should not be a problem in hospital. Inform your gynae of your decision and ask for tablets to stop milk production. Tell the nursing staff you want to bottle feed as well.

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Do you have a question about your pregnancy health that you'd like an expert's feedback on? Email to problems@yourpregnancy.co.za and we may publish your question along with advice from a specialist. 

Please note that we cannot supply personalised advice.

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