Your health is something you need to consider before a bipolar pregnancy, along with your marriage. If you live with bipolar disorder, the decision of whether or not to have a baby is about more than just your psychiatric condition. Your overall health must be considered, also. Here are some health concerns to review before getting pregnant while living with bipolar disorder.
Ask Yourself About Your Health Before Getting Pregnant with Bipolar Disorder
- Do you need to quit smoking, drinking, and/or getting high? With 29% of all people diagnosed with mental illness being addicted to drugs or alcohol (Dual Diagnosis: Substance Abuse Plus a Mental Illness), your pre-baby substance use is crucial to consider. If you want to have a baby in spite of your bipolar disorder, you have to be mentally stable enough to go the length of your pregnancy without using substances. As much as you’d like to believe that your maternal instinct will keep you from using while you’re pregnant, the odds are you won’t be able to stop if you are addicted. That’s why it’s so important to address this issue with your psychiatrist before you get pregnant. Do you have a substance abuse problem? If so, get help to deal with it before you get pregnant.
- Do you need to examine your diet? Yes, mood stabilizers make all of us gain weight, but are you eating well? And have you discussed which kind of diet might be best for you, considering your specific diagnosis? It is unclear whether a bad diet is a possible contributing factor or a side effect of mental illness (Diet and Bipolar Disorder). What is clear is that a healthy diet contributes to a healthier you, a healthier pregnancy, and a healthier baby. Your ability to control your diet and eat foods that will maximize your state of health does matter if you want to get pregnant. Ask your doctors about ways to change your diet for the better before getting pregnant.
- Do you take vitamins and supplements? In the article Nutritional Supplements for Bipolar Disorder, the relationship between nutrient deficiencies and mental illness is discussed. With only 10% of the American population eating a balanced diet, and 59% of our calories coming from soft drinks, white bread, and snack foods, it makes perfect sense that the majority of the population is nutrient deficient. Ask a reputable naturopath to run a blood test (or if your insurance doesn’t cover naturopathy, ask your general practitioner, obstetrician/gynecologist [OB/GYN] or psychiatrist). Determining where your nutrient levels lie before you get pregnant may help you to know which supplements to take. Common nutrients and vitamins to focus your study on are: A, C, B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid, chromium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. Always consult your psychiatrist before beginning a new vitamin or nutrient regiment (facts taken from Nutritional Supplements for Bipolar Disorder).
- Have you had a physical recently? A good, old-fashioned physical with your general practitioner or OB/GYN is really important before getting pregnant. Becoming aware of blood sugar issues, high or low blood pressure, and other issues you might not be aware of can have a huge impact on your pregnancy. If you need to wait a while longer to get pregnant while you address an issue that arises in your physical, you will only be setting yourself up for a healthier pregnancy in the long run.
Focusing on Your Health Before a Bipolar Pregnancy Helps You Manage Bipolar Better
Having bipolar disorder greatly complicates the decision to get pregnant (Why I Chose to be a Mother Despite My Bipolar Disorder). If you want to set yourself up for a healthy pregnancy, you might have to spend quite a bit of time and money getting prepared. But when you focus on making yourself healthier for a bipolar pregnancy, you might just find that you become healthier and more mentally stable through the process. That is exactly what happened to me.
Improving Your Health Will Make You a Better Mom in the Long Run
When you focus on getting as healthy as possible, you will have more energy, more stability, and more ability to give and love. Personally, I know that I am always willing to settle for less for myself. But when my kids’ well-being hangs in the balance, there is no end to what I will try to be the best I possibly can be for them. Being healthy for my kids has made me healthier in all aspects of my life (Taking Care of Myself is the Best Way to Care for my Family). I am more stable mentally today because of my efforts to be healthy for my kids. So, go ahead, take amazing care of yourself. And when you get good at taking care of you, you’ll be ready to tackle motherhood.