Information for the public

Planning to have a baby

If you have a mental health problem or you've had a problem in the past and you're planning to have a baby, your doctor should talk with you about:

  • how being pregnant and giving birth might affect your mental health problem, and

  • how your mental health problem and any treatments for it might affect you and your baby.

Your doctor may refer you to a specialist service for advice if you are taking medication (drugs) for a mental health problem. Some types of medication can affect the baby if taken in pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Your doctor will advise you which these are and may suggest changes before you get pregnant.

See below and more information about medication and deciding on possible treatments for more details.


Some types of antipsychotic medication can make it harder for you to become pregnant. If a blood test shows that the antipsychotic you are taking is making it difficult for you to become pregnant, your doctor may offer you another type of antipsychotic.


Anticonvulsants, which are used to treat bipolar disorder, are generally not suitable for women who are planning a pregnancy because there are serious risks to the baby. The anticonvulsant called sodium valproate must not be used during pregnancy, and should not be used in girls and women who could get pregnant unless there is no alternative and a pregnancy prevention plan is in place. If you are taking valproate or another anticonvulsant called carbamazepine and you are planning to have a baby or become pregnant, your doctor should advise you to stop the medication gradually.


If you are taking a benzodiazepine and you are planning to have a baby, your doctor should talk to you about possibly stopping it gradually.


You shouldn't be offered lithium if you are planning to have a baby, unless you have tried antipsychotic medication and it hasn't helped. If you are offered lithium, your doctor should tell you about how it might affect your baby if you take it while you are pregnant. They should also talk with you about how often you will need to have checkā€‘ups.

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