A new study has found that women taking antidepressants are more successful at breastfeeding their babies if they stay on the medication, rather than stopping the antidepressants because of concerns about their babies’ health.
The study results were presented at an annual Perinatal Society meeting in Perth, Australia.
Using data from the Danish National Birth Cohort in Denmark, researchers from the University of Adelaide studied the outcomes of 368 women who were on antidepressants prior to becoming pregnant.
“We found that two-thirds of the women (67 percent) stopped taking their antidepressant medication either after becoming pregnant or during breastfeeding,” said Luke Grzeskowiak, Ph.D.
“A third of the women (33 percent) continued to take antidepressant medication throughout their pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and these women were much more successful at maintaining breastfeeding up to and beyond the recommended six months.
“In contrast, those women who had stopped taking antidepressants were also more likely to stop breastfeeding within the recommended six months.”
Grzeskowiak said the health benefits of continued breastfeeding greatly outweigh any perceived risk to the baby from antidepressant medication.
“This is a really important message because we know that breastfeeding has immense benefits for the child and the mum herself, including a degree of protection against post-natal depression,” he said.
“The amount of antidepressant medication that finds its way into a mother’s breast milk is very low. On the balance of it, we believe that continuing to take antidepressant medication and maintaining regular breastfeeding will be the best outcome for both the baby and the mother.”
Grzeskowiak said many women struggle with decisions about what to do with medications both during pregnancy and lactation.
“If they’re taking antidepressants, they should be supported and encouraged by family members, friends, and health care professionals to continue with their medication, knowing that good breastfeeding outcomes are all-important for them and their child,” he says.
Source: University of Adelaide