Can I stay on my medications when I have ADHD and am Pregnant?

 

Asking yourself if you can take care of another human is more than most people do. If you are motivated to care for yourself in the right way and be honest about what you need to do, YES! Put the systems in place to do it.

Many women who have ADHD struggle with whether or not they should become pregnant and, once pregnant, how to get through their pregnancy. Others find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy. Half of ALL pregnancies are unplanned, and this number is even higher among adhd women. So you are not alone if this is the case.

 

This page has some tips to best take care of your mental health during pregnancy and resources designed to help you with common questions about ADHD and pregnancy.

ADHD, Pregnancy and Medication

 

Women who have ADHD wonder if they can continue taking their medication or if they need to stop during pregnancy. 

 

In 2020 attended an online conference in women’s health with Allison Baker, an instructor at Harvard and a staff member at Mass General. 

 

She shared the most up-to-date knowledge in this area, concluding there isn’t enough information to determine the absolute safety of ADHD medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, doctors have been increasingly more comfortable prescribing medications to women who have ADHD during their pregnancy. Researchers are gathering more and more evidence about medications safety, and the evidence is mounting that it is safer than once thought.

 

Depending on your current medication regimen, you and your doctor should collaborate about medications choices.

 

Please verify that your doctor has an up-to-date and expert understanding of ADHD in pregnant women. You and your doctor should carefully weigh decisions about medications during pregnancy.

Severe unmedicated ADHD can pose an extreme risk to a fetus, especially if combined with anxiety and depression. For women with ADHD, your baby’s safety issues can include unsafe driving, stress, and mood management. Stress harms the fetus. Ultimately THIS CHOICE IS UP TO YOU.

Some doctors and women chose to stay on their medicaitons during pregnancy and during breast feeding.

How can I Reduce my Stress when I have ADHD and am Pregnant?

 

1. Think about getting someone to drive for you. Motor vehicle accidents are a considerable concern among women who have ADHD, and when on medication, those accidents do not happen at the same rate

2. Ask for help from people.  You are likely to be struggling with more significant challenges to your executive functioning, increased stress on your body and mind, s ensitivity to criticism,  and mood swings. It’s important to have a team of people around you who support you.

  • Try to delegate tasks to people who are willing to help you so you have less on your to-do list. Shopping? Dog walking? Ordering things? Anything extra that you have on your to-do list that someone else can help you with is fair game.
  • Work hard on creating external structures to help you not forget.
  • Who can you ask to help remind you with meds and prenatal vitamins, appointments etc.? Ask.
  • Who can you go to for stress management and support? Ask for your friends and family to be extra patient and available to listen to you during this time.
  • Who can you go to to help you with boundaries? You may need extra help saying no. Find support and put a team in place.
  • Get a therapist or coach in place. CBT is helpful for ADHD and a coach to help teach you skills during this incredibly stressful time where you are prone to anxiety AND depression. This can be a preventive measure.

3. Reminders. Don’t count on yourself to remember put reminders in three or four places. Ask and learn about what kinds of reminder systems are in place for all of the appointments you are setting up.

4. Ask yourself, what do I need to remember and do, and how am I impaired BECAUSE of my ADHD?  Think about what medication was helping you with, and then put systems in place to supplement this. 

  • Be brutally honest with yourself about your impairment is necessary.
  • Take care of your executive function on overdrive.

5. Reduce the workload at work. Ask for work accommodations. This is an essential piece that can reduce stress that creates a better environment for your baby. Heightened stress and anxiety during pregnancy affect a child’s physical and mental development. ANYTHING you can do to make your life less stressful will make your baby healthier.

 

Will my ADHD get Worse While I’m Pregnant?

  • Surprisingly most clients I work with and Doctors I know have no idea that hormones impact their ADHD.
  • Estrogen helps us pay attention dopamine seems to work better when we have more estrogen. That has dramatic ramifications for someone with ADHD. 
  • During a women’s cycle, estrogen varies dramatically 
  • Estrogen goes down at the beginning of your period, the second half of your cycle, different times of the day, pregnancy, and menopause.
  • With pregnancy, estrogen increases, your symptoms will be exacerbated when you have less estrogen
  • Also, it seems PMDD is more common in people that have ADHD
  • Some women with ADHD have an easing of symptoms, especially in the second half of pregnancy. For others, their symptoms increase because of the increasing demands of executive functioning and fluctuations in mood and increased impulsivity

 

What Else will be Hard for Me When I’m Pregnant?

  • self-care
  • appointments
  • increase in the need to make choices

ADHD and Pregnancy Risks

Research show you at higher risk of :

  • Preeclampsia
  • Emergency cesarean delivery
  • Preterm labor and delivery

(Surles 2022)

Your baby is at higher risk of adhd as adhd is genetic. Additionally it’s been shown that babies of women with adhd are at higher risk of:

  • Breathing difficulties during and after delivery
  • Emergency newborn resuscitation
  • Neonatal admission

(Surles 2022)

ADHD and After Childbirth

Breastfeeding when you have ADHD and are on Medications

After pregnancy many of the women I work with will want to refrain from taking their medication because they are breastfeeding. However, it may be safe to take your medicaiton in small doses while breastfeeding. Again, weighing the pros and cons is important. This article is by the program considered one of the most prestigious in the country. 

Leave pregnancy and adhd for other links

Adhd and college accommodation

adhd and procrastination

adhd and exercise

adhd and diet

 

More resources:

Updated!

The No Bullshit Guide to Pregnancy when you have ADHD (Taneia Surles 2022)

Please check out Dusty’s work at
Some of this information was taken from Surviving (And Thriving) During Your ADHD Pregnancy – 2021 Dusty Chipura Women’s Palooza

 

Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.