Before we decided to try for a baby I spoke to a few doctors about the implications of staying on my medication and I got a very wide range of responses. I have been taking 100mg Sertraline daily for many years now and have found that it has greatly assisted me in keeping my mood stable, my emotions under control and my obsessive compulsive tendacies at a manageble level. The first doctor I spoke to was very understanding of why I take Sertraline and said that sometimes the risk to baby is small in comparison to the risk to the mother if they come off medication. At the time I was relieved to hear this, it was reassuring to know that I had some support if I decided to stay on the tablets. The next doctor I spoke to had the complete opposite opinion and almost demanded that I stop taking my medication immediately. This was very daunting for me. This doctor also said that having autism didn't have an effect on pregnancy and vice versa. This is not the case, autism is a factor in everything I do and pregnancy is sadly no exception. I am self aware enough to know that pregnancy would have a huge effect on my body, my mental stability, my 'rules' and that it could be a potential trigger for a bout of serious mental illness. I found her lack of understanding very upsetting. The last doctor I saw offered a more balanced viewpoint and fully explained the research behind what she said. She informed me that animal studies have shown a slight increase in the chances of a heart defect. She also said that there is no human research to compare that to. I was also informed that I could switch to an older antidepressant for the first 12 weeks and then back to Sertraline for the rest of the pregnancy. I left this appointment feeling like i'd been given a full explanation of my options though the difficult decision was still to be made.
My partner and I spoke at length about our options and I talked it through with a close friend and my mum. Ultimately though the decision lay with me. Only I know what my mind and body can endure and I had made my decision which thankfully was supported by those around me. I had decided that the risk to myself was greater than the risk to my baby. I knew that changing medication temporarily wouldn't work for me. The older drugs offered had caused me many side effects before and as I had settled so well on the Sertraline withdrawing from it altogether wasn't a viable option for me, I feared my mental health would decline to a point where I was at risk. As explained by that first doctor 'an unhealthy mum can't grow a healthy baby' and she was right. Pregnancy is difficult enough without adding antidepressant withdrawal and medication upheaval to the mix. In order to do the best for my baby I had to do what was best for myself. It wasn't an easy decision and I know that if anything is wrong with my child then I will blame myself as I carried on taking the tablets. My only defence is that I did what I thought was right and I tried my best which is all any mum ever strives to do.