So You Want To Start a Family...
Updated: Apr 25, 2021
So you want to start a family. I am with you! Being a mother is something I have wanted ever since I can remember!
Now let me ask you the most important question...
Are you afraid to become a parent because of your bipolar?
There is no need to be ashamed if you are. This is a common fear within our community, especially in the world of motherhood. The intrusive thoughts creep in; Will I pass this on to my children? I can’t be on my psychiatric medications while I’m pregnant... am I going to be able to handle it? Am I going to be able to hack it as a parent? How will it effect my children if they see me having an episode?
What if I told you that these fears don’t even cross my mind. Would you believe me? Or if I told you that you have the potential to release these fears yourself. Would you believe that?
Well it all boils down to one thing... how have you prepared?
The biggest mistake most parents make, REGARDLESS of whether either party has bipolar, is not preparing themselves, to the best of their abilities, for what lies ahead in parenthood. So if you have put in the time to research what to expect and have a plan set in place in the instance of a “worst case senario” situation, you are already leaps and bounds above the average parent. I look at it this way... if you decide to become a boxer you don’t just hop into the ring without learning anything about the sport, right? Of course not! That is the fastest way to get punched in the face and knocked out! But if you research the sport, research your opponent, train your body, and get your mind ready for the fight ahead, even though it may be impossible to predict how the fight is going to go, you already have a much higher chance of coming out on the other side unscathed. And luckily for you, I have done an ample amount of preparation, so this is a great place to start!
Lets begin by addressing concern number one; Will I pass this on to my children?
Well, if we look at statistics, the likelihood of passing on bipolar is 10-25% if one parent has it and 10-50% if both parents do. However, if you look at that same statistic in terms of type 2 diabetes, the likelihood of passing THAT on to your children is 40% if one parent has it and 70% if both do. So if you or your partner have type 2 diabetes, I would be far more concerned about passing that along than I would bipolar. But all that aside, let’s really dig into this deeper, shall we?
When you delve into the science of maternal nutrition you become incredibly aware that everything you put in your body effects fetal development. So if you are thinking about having a baby and you are 30 pounds overweight with a diet that consists of ice cream and hot dogs, you are potentially setting your child up for metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and so much more. To be clear, I am not saying you have to be anal about EVERYTHING you eat, but switching from skittles to strawberries would be a good start. And though my intention is not to terrify you, I pray the reality of these possibilities may influence you to seek help in changing your nutritional habits, if not for yourself for the sake of your children.
But how does this relate to bipolar? Don’t worry, I’m about to get into that.
Bipolar at the end of the day is a result of a chemical imbalance. Those chemicals are directly affected by hormones and hormones are created from none other than what we eat. There is now consistent evidence from recent studies highlighting the key importance and effectiveness of focusing on maternal diet to lower the risk of onset of mental disorders. So to put it simply, if you prepare your body with proper nutrition before, during, and after pregnancy, your child‘s risk of developing mental illness goes down.
[See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4231189/ for more information]