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parenting while bipolar?


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Any good links or resources for this? I found out I'm pregnant a bit ago(yay!) and, while I'm dealing with the pregnancy bit, I think, quite nicely...it seems to have done wonders for stabilizing my mood, for some reason...I still have trepedations about the whole after-pregnancy thing. My dad's bipolar and I'd like to avoid some of those mistakes, if possible. But I found some listserv for bipolar parents and it's apparently mostly defunct; they recommended to look elsewhere, but didn't seem to have any good, non-defunct "elsewheres" in mind.

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Hi congrats on the baby!

I just updated the bipolar resources last week, pinned above.    I didn't come across any BP parenting specific websites, but I'll take another look.  I recommend that you spend some time looking thru the various sites.

Offhand, the most important things about parenting as a bipolar are no secrets but common sense:

1.  Take the best possible care of yourself, in maintaining stability.

2.  Take your meds as prescribed.

3.  See your Pdoc regularly

4.  See your therapist regularly, as directed by your Pdoc

5.  Be kind and fair with your children, just like every parent should be.

Best,

A.M.

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Congratulations, that's wonderful news.

The books that helped me the most weren't bipolar-specific:  I liked the Sears baby book and Penelope Leach's The Year After Childbirth.  (Marguerite Kelly's The Mother's Almanac is great too, though geared toward older children.)

A few more things that you probably know:

1.  Have your husband/family/doctor watch you very carefully postpartum; because it's such a dramatic change anyway, it's possible to swing way up or down without realizing it.

2. As long as the baby has you sleep-deprived, get all of the household help and/or babysitting that you can.

3.  If you start getting overwhelmed, remember that it's okay to put the baby down for a "nap" for fifteen minutes while you regroup, even if s/he hates it, and that kids do cry, have tantrums, etc., and this too shall pass.

Happy pregnancy,

sg

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Congrats :ninja: I'm sorry but I can't find much else for you, either. But I will keep my eyes open and hopefully get back to you soon with something.

I second the good advice you've gotten. A good support system is absolutely crucial, very important for ANY parent whether bipolar or not, but especially if you have MI issues. Don't be afraid to ask for help, and don't be afraid to accept it when it's offered!

Something specific to bipolar you might consider is how to deal with mood changes once your little one is here. We all have "breakthrough" episodes from time to time, meds poop out, etc. so it is best to prepare yourself now than to just hope it won't happen and be unprepared when it does. It's important to keep on top of it, of course, keep your pdoc on a short leash :) But, think of healthy outlets for when making med changes and etc.

Some examples would be if you are having some mania/hypomania, to go for a brisk walk with the stroller or perhaps invest in a jogging stroller (if you're into jogging LOL) This assuming of course you're catching it pretty early on and your judgment is not too impaired. When the baby is bigger, you can go to the sandbox or the playground. Toddlers LOVE running around in a big open space with one of those giant balls you get for a buck at Wally world- it will help keep a handle on your own energy AND wear them out so they sleep well, always a plus :P

I'd also suggest if there are people who are particularly unsupportive about you being a parent or about your bipolar (or both), to start distancing yourself from them NOW (if you can't drop them entirely) so that you will not be quite so vulnerable to it when the baby gets here. With all the hormones and postpartum...stuff...you will be esp. sensitive to it, and you don't need that!

I'll try to find some something for you specifically about being a bipolar parent, though...most of what I am finding is just for parents of bipolar kids  ;)

~Faith

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Heya daemongrrl,

Yay!  Congratulations!!

I don't have a lot to add, and I'm not a parent myself just yet.

And yah.  Pregnancy often stabilizes a lot of things.  Rheumatoid can get better during (and worse after), as can mood disorders like ours.

A gift the baby gives you in exchange for later on when it hits puberty.  :ninja:

But.  You were asking in terms of *after* delivery.

So here I have a little speech for ya :ninja:

Something that seems to come up an awful lot with my new moms.

Listen:

It's *okay* to supplement (formula in addition to breast milk).

It's *okay* to formula-feed.

Even exclusively.

I say this *emphatically* for two reasons.

1.  Too many moms are being made to feel like less than moms and less than women b/c they can't breastfeed exclusively or at all for whatever reason.  And then babies are hungry, and moms feel guilty, and who benefits??  Nobody.  Happy exhausting new-baby time becomes guilt-ridden exhausted crying-mom-starving-baby time.

2.  Especially in women like us who might need to take medications to survive, and where those meds get into breast milk.  Being stable is *crucial* for the new baby, and *way* more important than breast milk.

Seriously.

Breast-is-best is nice. 

And worth the effort, to a point.

And true, but it's an ideal, and really only counts:

1.  That first few days when they get colostrum.  Useful antibodies from mom's immune system until they learn to make their own, and start getting immunized against big nasty diseases.  Useful.  Important.  In communities with immunizations and clean water?  Less than crucial.

2.  When it works.  As in, when it makes mom and baby happy and makes baby grow.  Even then, baby needs a vitamin D supplement.

3.  Any time the benefits outweigh the risks.  Like if mom can't get adequate nutrition for herself and baby.  Then, breastfeeding will at *least* get good nutrition (the best of what mom has inside her) to baby.  Also 4:

4.  For example, when making formula requires use of water full of diseases, or when there's not adequate formula available.  Like in some African and First Nations communities, where the risk of contracting cholera or polio from the water seriously outweighs the risk of starvation, or of catching HIV from breast milk.

But.

Sorry for the rant! :P   This is a hot-button issue for me.

(and holy hannah am I gonna catch hell from the LaLeche ladies for this one.)

Be well, enjoy this stability and excitement!  Eat well.  Have a good team (family doc/ob/psych) and close follow-up.

Enjoy your baby!  And remember it has three jobs.  Eat.  Grow.  Be cute.

If it's doing the first two, you're doing it right.  The third is genetics. ;)

Here ends my new-mom pep talk.

:angry:

(cripes what are you all gonna say to me when it's my turn, I can't *begin* to guess, but a lot of "I told you so" comes to mind)

And if any of my moms have internet groups they like, I'll pass it on.

I'm so happy for you. :)

--ncc--

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Congrats!  I agree that a good support system is the most important thing.  It's

hard at first because the baby wakes so much during the night.  If you can get

anyone to help with anything (housework,laundry,etc) during those first few

months you can just concentrate on the baby.  If you could get help during the

night- that would be even better.  Take care of yourself & accept help when it's

offered.  CONGRATS again!!

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Thanks for all the support and advice; I'll definitely take a lot of it into consideration. I'm blessed with a wonderful partner who also has the added bonus of being in school: she'll be able to work her last semester's schedule so we don't really have to do daycare, but without any major problems.

I find so much on parents of bipolar kids and, while that's certainly something we'll watch for (I'm well aware of the genetic predisposition), we'll hope it's a non-issue.

As far as breastfeeding, I plan to try, but not go nuts with it. If stability is an issue, formula is definitely in order. I've had plenty of my own run-ins with LaLeche league to worry about what they think :>

mick

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You are already a wonderful parent. How can I tell? Because you ackowledge your diagnosis, you are willing to admit that there could be issues as a bipolar parent, and you are willing to learn how to be the best parent you can be in spite of your diagnosis. You are already a wonderful parent!

I have 3 children myself and my oldest is 14. I wasn't diagnosed with my first mental disorder until 6 years ago. For the first few years of my children's lives I was undiagnosed, unmedicated, in horrible marriage(s). Even though I was trying my best, my best was poor. If I was properly diagnosed, medicated... maybe... just maybe... things could have been different. No I didn't harm my children. But I made very poor choiced that ultimately effected all my children.

I agree with what everyone else has already advised you to do. You will do just fine.

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