Asked by Eliza, Indiana
I recently had my first baby and just learned I have OCD. My doctor put me on a very low dose of antidepressant and my symptoms are much better. I am breast-feeding my son and don't want to use formula but am worried about side effects. What problems should I look for?
Living Well Expert
Dr. Jennifer Shu
Children's Medical Group
Thanks for your question, and congratulations on your baby! OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, has been found in some studies to be more common in post-partum women. When unwanted thoughts and compulsive behaviors become intrusive or harmful to the new mom and/or her baby, an antidepressant or other medication may be helpful.
Anything that a mother ingests can be transferred in varying amounts through breast milk to the baby. Antidepressants can be found in low or undetectable amounts in nursing infants. Depending on the exact medicine, the baby may not show any side effects, although some antidepressants have been reported to cause crying, fussiness, sleep problems, poor growth, and even seizures.
Reactions to medications in breast-feeding babies tend to be more common under 6 months of age and are usually temporary. It is not well known, however, what long-term effects these medications might have on a child's development. To minimize short-term problems, it may be helpful to time the dosing of medication to occur right after the baby has breast-fed or before a long stretch of sleep. Also, both mom and baby should be monitored closely by their respective physicians.
The benefits of breast-feeding a baby often outweigh the risks of exposure to an antidepressant, and parents with treated medical (including mental health) problems are generally better able to care for their babies. I therefore encourage mothers to talk with their physicians about best medication choices and nonmedical treatments that are safe to use while breast-feeding.
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. All comments should be relevant to the topic and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. You are solely responsible for your own comments, the consequences of posting those comments, and the consequences of any reliance by you on the comments of others. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying and other information you provide via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.
The information contained on this page does not and is not intended to convey medical advice. CNN is not responsible for any actions or inaction on your part based on the information that is presented here. Please consult a physician or medical professional for personal medical advice or treatment.