Antipsychotics are medications used to treat mental health disorders such as bipolar I and bipolar II disorder, as well as schizophrenia. Medications that fall into the antipsychotic category can help to stop hallucinations, stabilize moods and manage anxiety attacks. A woman who is thinking about becoming pregnant or accidentally gets pregnant while taking an antipsychotic medication should talk to her doctor as soon as possible. A doctor and patient need to discuss the pros and cons of using antipsychotics in pregnancy. The disorder from which the mother suffers and the exact medication she is taking can help to determine if using antipsychotics in pregnancy is a safe choice.
A woman should not stop taking antipsychotic medication abruptly when she finds out she is pregnant. Even if a woman is uncomfortable taking antipsychotics while pregnant, she should seek help from her doctor to slowly get off the medication by gradually lowering the dose. If a woman stops taking a high dose of antipsychotic medication instantly, then it can cause a variety of side effects that may impact both the mom and the baby.
Taking certain antipsychotics in pregnancy can be considered safer than taking others. Haloperidol is considered a high-potency medication for treating psychotic disorders. Many doctors consider haloperidol one of the safer antipsychotic medications for women to take during pregnancy. Some doctors may allow a patient to stay on this medication during the entire pregnancy, while others may recommend that a woman slowly quit haloperidol in the third trimester of pregnancy. New mothers using haloperidol typically are told not to breastfeed their babies and to use formula instead.
Other antipsychotics, such as chlorpromazine, are considered to be low-potency medications. Taking such antipsychotics in pregnancy may cause birth defects in babies. Pregnant women may be taken off chlorpromazine for the duration of a pregnancy or temporarily placed on a different medication.
A doctor can assess the statistics of certain antipsychotics to see what the odds are of the baby having any sort of issues if the mother continues using the medication during pregnancy. The healthcare provider can weigh these factors against a mother's current diagnosis and mental state. If a patient has a very severe disorder, then she may perform other harmful acts if she goes off her medication and the baby may be safer if the mother continues to use antipsychotics in pregnancy.