How to plan for pregnancy when you have mental health problems

Starting a family is an exciting and nerve-wracking time for anyone, but having a mental health problem can add an extra layer of planning and anxiety in getting pregnant. Is your medication safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding? How can you keep both yourself and your baby well? And what specialist support is available along the way?

Pre-conception planning

First and foremost, the best advice is to have a conversation with your GP before you start trying to conceive. “Quite simply, the earlier you start thinking about it the better,” says Dr. Trudi Seneviratne, Chair of the Perinatal Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatry. “In England, we’ve had a huge expansion of perinatal mental health services in the last three years, and our mother and baby outpatient services now offer specialist pre-conception counseling. Your GP can refer you for a conversation before you fall pregnant,” she explains.