Things to remember about bipolar disorder in the perinatal period

Some things to remember when assessing and managing bipolar disorder in the perinatal period are:

  • The possibility of bipolar disorder should be considered in women with current or past symptoms of mania, whether or not they have had a depressive episode, especially if the woman has a personal/family history of bipolar disorder.
  • Comprehensive mental health assessment should be arranged for women with recurrent or new onset of bipolar disorder, suicidal thinking or if there is risk of harm to the woman, infant or other children in her care.
  • Monitoring for relapse is required when women choose to discontinue medication during the perinatal period.
  • The importance of discussing and reviewing medication when a woman is planning a pregnancy, when a pregnancy is confirmed and following the birth.
  • Assessment should be made for side effects and/or lack of initial response shortly after treatment is initiated.
  • Minimising stress and maximising sleep are vital. Where possible, it is beneficial for women to draw on support from family members, friends, the community and/or health services including in-home support or respite services. As the woman recovers, a routine that allows both parents to have quality time, both as a couple and individually, can be helpful.