Fighting with doctors about medication and breastfeeding

I love this cooler autumn weather because it reminds me of when I was pregnant with Master X two years ago. I remember that feeling of finishing work and all I had to do was rug up and relax and grow the baby that was nurturing in my belly. I miss my old friend Punk who would snuggle with belly every chance he got, bring them toys and generally be good company for me during this important final incubation stage. This time I have my son who at 20 months has started to say the word baby, and interact with babies at his childcare and when we are out and about.

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It is truly sweet seeing Master X point to a young child, call then ba-by and then gently stroke their hair and try given them a toy or some food. He even has the sweetest reaction with baby dolls and kisses them on their heads while saying ba-by. I showed him the 3D image of belly baby and he pointed to it and said ‘ba-by’. The fact that he recognised the baby from the photo is unbelievable, I mean they just look like a little squish at the moment! Nevertheless I felt joy and love envelope me in that moment, seeing my man and my boy cuddle together looking and talking about the photo. We didn’t get a 3D image with Master X – it was not offered and to my knowledge, was only available privately. However this babe’s image was taken in a public hospital, at Canberra’s Centenary Hospital for Women and Children’s Foetal Medicinal Unit (FMU).

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I have been assessed as a high risk pregnancy due to my diagnosis of bipolar I disorder after postpartum psychosis with the birth of my son in 2015. Lithium is a medication that has been linked to heart defect and premature birth so requires closer monitoring. However I recently found out that despite increasing my dosage to the highest recommended level (2000mg) that my blood work is still showing a deficit (<0.4). I met with my GP this week as I am not able to see the psychiatrist until next month, and I was stern in the fact that I did not want to increase my dosage for a number of reasons:

  1. Increasing my medication, in my mind, increases the risk of preterm birth
  2. Despite efforts to reach my level 0.7, the medication has made little progress in changing this
  3. I want to breastfeed. You cannot breastfeed on Lithium.

I admit that the news that my levels are low got me excited as I feel I now have a stronger argument for coming off the medication which would allow us to breastfeed. Despite being hospitalised three times for acute mastitis, cutting a tongue tie and then after finally reaching a comfortable pattern and significant growth gains once my main calmed down, we stopped at 5 months. A pretty good effort, but I am hoping for more confidence and a longer journey this time around. And I really this for our family. I hate bottles and how that restrict me for going out. Master X was 100% bottle fed from 5 months old.

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I am waiting on a call from the psychiatrist because I believe that they will not be happy to hear my decision. I said to my GP that I wanted to know how to reduce the Lithium now, and just manage my mania with antipsychotics. She was not too happy and urged convinced me to wait until I see the psychiatrist next month. I begrudgingly agreed, but deep down know this is the right thing to do, and to do it now to reduce the chances of preterm labour as much as possible.

I have had some responses from you about me wanting to stop lithium, and some successes about breastfeeding on antipsychotics, but I think the more feedback, the better my brain will be in settling on this issue and fighting the psychiatrist. What frustrates me is that they say one thing about wanting to support me, and then pushed choices like breastfeeding to the side. How can I react and convince them that I am stable on the Olanzapine, and this is the preferred choice for my family and I?

Regi


7 thoughts on “Fighting with doctors about medication and breastfeeding

    1. Thanks Cassandra. Yes, it is not going to be easy but ultimately it is my body and our baby so we should have a right to say what is needed. Over medicalising the pregnancy and birth, and upping medication beyond the recommendation is not a positive move in our books. If the Olanzapine was not working then of course we would go for the Lithium or another antipsychotic. I despise how some doctors just ignore what parents want. *rant over*

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    1. Yes, they want me on it postpartum and through the rest of the pregnancy. But my levels were so low it triggered a manic episode and the levels are not changing. Olanzapine is controlling my mood at the moment.

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  1. I wasn’t on medication with my first child. I should have been quickly afterwards as my undiagnosed bipolar kicked in. On antidepressants with second pregnancy and nursed fine. Mental health was much better for me and the baby on the meds versus the first time around with no meds. If I had to choose between nursing and mental stability I would choose mental stability. I hope it works out that you can get both this pregnancy. It’s so hard to know until you make those medication changes, but then once the mood takes a turn for the worse there’s no guarantee for a quick recovery and in the meantime you and your baby and family are suffering. It a tough call. I can see why your doctors are hesitant. My mania is controlled with lamictal and a tiny bit of resperidal. I’m type 2, however, so my depression is more prevelant. Good luck to you and congratulations on the baby to come. I love those 3D images. They are so cool!

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    1. Thanks so much Jessica! This makes me feel much better. I agree mental stability is more important, however my doctors are ignoring that I was fine until post partum with my last baby and had a wonderful spontaneous birth. My mood will be controlled mainly with the Olanzapine which is a bit like Risperidone, but I think, better! Thanks for taking the time to write 🙂

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