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Why I decided to stay on medication despite the risk to my unborn child

Autistic and Pregnant, First Trimester, Medication, Anti Depressants Use In Pregnancy, SertralineA bold title for a blog post but it's the truth. I'm not writing this post to cause controversy and I know that some people will not agree with the decision I made but for many people with a wide variety of health conditions it's a decision that needs to be made. As explained by my doctor, a lot of medication is not tested on pregnant women purely because of the ethics involved and because of that it's very difficult for medical professionals to know which medication is safe. Tests are performed on pregnant animals, something which doesn't sit well with me but I do understand the need for it. So often the best a doctor can tell you is how the medication affects animal fetuses and then it's down to you to decide if it's a risk worth taking.

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.


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This site has been set up to provide information and relate-able experiences for pregnant women that are also on the autistic spectrum.

My name is Katrina and I was diagnosed with Autism when I was 21 years old. My life had been a constant struggle prior to my diagnosis. I couldn't understand my behaviour and I couldn't understand why, despite all the therapy and counselling, I couldn't 'get better'. Receiving a diagnosis allowed me to accept who I am and enabled me to understand myself and this in turn led to better understanding of the world around me and the people that occupied it. For me diagnosis was the starting point of a journey of understanding that would enable me to learn to love and respect myself. By understanding myself, I could help others to understand me and by doing this I have managed to build and maintain strong and healthy relationships after many years of trying and failing. Informat…

Welcome To Autistic and Pregnant

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This site has been set up to provide information and relate-able experiences for pregnant women that are also on the autistic spectrum.

You can find out more about me and why I set up this site by clicking here.

I will be updating the site as I go through my pregnancy. I will also be sharing my earlier experiences including my experience of miscarriage. Please check back on a regular basis or SUBSCRIBE via the link above so you don't miss a thing and thank you for supporting me on my journey to raise awareness about mothers on the autistic spectrum. We do exist, we just need people to know we do!

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