*Note* Just as a reminder, I’m not a doctor so I can’t say whether anyone should or should not be on any medication. This is not intended as an exhaustive list of all medications that are safe to take while nursing or as an endorsement of a medication for any particular person. All I am doing is sharing my experience and what I learned. You should always consult your licensed medical professional before beginning, altering, or ending any type of medical treatment.
Recently, I’ve heard several women express that they have been putting off talking to their doctors about symptoms of depression because they’re nursing their baby and don’t think they can take medication while they’re nursing. I just want to say, I’ve been there. That was one of the reasons I put off actively seeking help the first time was because I was nursing Elizabeth. I felt like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I needed help but I didn’t think I could take medication and keep nursing, but I worried that if I refused the medication the doctor would report me to the police or something. It’s a horrible place to be in; it’s confusing, and for me it added to the guilt that I already felt.
What I didn’t know then, and what too many women still don’t realize, is that there IS medication that you can take for depression while nursing. I don’t know what all the options are, and I know that many anti-depressants are not considered to be safe to take while pregnant and/or nursing. This is not, however, true of all anti-depressants.
I learned this when I was pregnant the second time around. I had made my midwives aware of my prior history with PPD and they talked to me about the option to begin taking medication before I even gave birth, as a precaution. I had done some research prior but they reassured me that Zoloft is considered safe to take during pregnancy and nursing. I started on Zoloft when I was 36 weeks pregnant with Miriam and weaned off of it shortly before finding out I was pregnant again.
If you are nursing and think that you might be experiencing depression, PLEASE don’t refrain from talking to your doctor just because you think you can’t take any medication at all. There are options that will allow you to treat your depression while still continuing to nurse. There’s no guarantee that any medication will work any particular way but at least be willing to talk about the options with your doctor (or midwife, or whoever you see). A good care provider will listen to not only your symptoms but your concerns, be understanding, and work WITH you to find the best course of action for you. If your care provider is not willing to do that, that reflects poorly on them (not you) and is probably a sign that you should look for someone else.
Nursing moms have options too. Please don’t let nursing be the thing that keeps you from getting the help that you need and deserve.