I just love this conversation that's evolved from my post (a couple of posts back) on taking anti-depressants when breastfeeding! I set out simply to give my personal opinion on the risks involved and now feel way more enlightened on this "hot button" topic. In the midst of the mixed messages we get from drug test results and the medical community, we're left to wade our way through the murkiness of this issue while feeling guilty about whichever decision we choose.
I especially love psychologist and nationally-renowned PPD expert Ann Dunnewold's comment that "we need more honesty among women that this decision is hard" and that "women need to stop judging each other. Society as a whole is hard enough on us, setting up perfectionist, unreachable standards for mothers. We need to keep in mind the absolute truth, for the majority of women: that we are all doing the best we can do."
Several women have commented on my previous posts on this topic, openly sharing their experiences. One is now in the sixth month of her pregnancy with her second child. Not only did she suffer from PPD with her first baby, she has also dealt with severe depression since she was 13 years old. She is currently taking Zoloft and plans to stay on the anti-depressant during her postpartum while breastfeeding. She brought up an extremely valid concern that I hadn't touched on .... although we've been talking about the risks that anti-depressants pose to an infant, what about the risks involved when a mom's depression is left untreated? Studies show that the occurrence of untreated postpartum depressive episodes in a mother is linked to poorer cognitive test scores in their children. And way more tragic -- aside from the potential cognitive and development delays and possible psychological damage -- there is also the risk of a child losing a mother to suicide.
I want to thank this very strong and empowered woman for sharing her story -- openly letting us in on her decision that she's made to be on Zoloft while pregnant -- and bringing up this very important point that weighs heavily in this excruciating decision that so many of us have to face head on. I wish her all the best with the rest of her pregnancy and hope she keeps in touch so we can all celebrate with her when she experiences a joyful, calm PPD-free postpartum!