What to Consider Before a Bipolar Pregnancy: Your Marriage
Wednesday, October 26 2016 Taylor Arthur
Your marriage is something to consider before a bipolar pregnancy. When you live with bipolar disorder, whether or not you should get pregnant is a difficult decision (Why I Chose to be a Mother Despite My Bipolar Disorder). There is a lot to consider before a bipolar pregnancy, and the stability of your marriage needs to be at the very top of this list.
Work on Your Marriage Before a Bipolar Pregnancy
Are you in a stable relationship? Considering that 95% of marriages with one bipolar spouse end in divorce, it is very important to assess the stability of your relationship before getting pregnant. While the stresses of a normal pregnancy can wear on the fabric of a relationship, the added high-risk elements of a bipolar pregnancy can wreak havoc on a marriage. If your relationship is rocky, a bipolar pregnancy will not help it. In fact, pregnancy hormones can exacerbate bipolar disorder and ultimately damage your relationship (Hormones and Women’s Mental Health).
My husband and I actually went through months of marriage therapy before we tried to get pregnant. We had a lot to work through before we were ready to take on parenthood. We spent time talking, healing, and finding a new normal after years of ups and downs with my bipolar disorder. We took trips together and learned how to have fun with each other again (Marriage and Mental Illness: Take a Vacation Together). We rebuilt our marriage before trying to get pregnant.
Prepare Your Spouse to Assume Extra Responsibilities During a Bipolar Pregnancy
Bring Your Spouse to Discuss a Bipolar Pregnancy with Your Doctors
As much as it is important to rebuild your marriage after you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it is just as important to include your spouse in discussions with your doctor about a bipolar pregnancy (Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder [Treatment/Management Issues]). As you build your team of doctors to help you have a healthy bipolar pregnancy, your spouse needs to be an equal member of your healthcare team. Your spouse knows you better than anyone and can offer unparalleled insight into your care, especially at a time when you can feel so vulnerable.
Roles Often Shift Dramatically
Even though I was stable when I became pregnant with my first baby, I still suffered from debilitating, can't-get-out-of-bed-for-days depression throughout my pregnancy. My husband took care of me when I couldn't get out of bed, went to doctor's appointments with me, and assumed many of my responsibilities while he worked a full-time job and spent his weekends getting our fixer-upper house baby-ready.
Both partners need to be ready for their roles to shift during and after a bipolar pregnancy. More than likely, being pregnant with bipolar disorder may affect a woman's ability to work outside the home, keep up with household chores and other responsibilities. Discussing these possibilities before a bipolar pregnancy can help prepare both spouses to deal with these changes if they occur.
For a Healthy Bipolar Pregnancy, a Healthy Marriage Is Essential
No one has a perfect marriage, but having a healthy marriage is so important before you consider a bipolar pregnancy. Take the time to invest in your marriage before taking on parenthood, especially if you or your spouse have bipolar disorder. Talking through the possible changes a bipolar pregnancy may have on your relationship will help you navigate them as a team. A strong team is what you need to make it through a bipolar pregnancy.