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Kristin Park: Ann Dunnewold, Ph.D, Author of Postpartum Survival Guide, Joins Our Conversation!

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I've had quite the response from my last two posts that hit on the emotionally-charged issue of taking anti-depressants while pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Every comment has been great and I really appreciate the personal stories and thoughts that have been shared.

I was especially thrilled to see a comment today from Ann Dunnewold! Ann is a psychologist and nationally-renowned expert on postpartum depression. Of her several books on the topic, my favorite is "Postpartum Survival Guide." Her latest book, "Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box," provides solutions to the "mommy madness" that tends to pervade our lives as we feel pressured to aspire to perfect mommyhood.

On that note, her comment is awesome:

"I am so glad you brave women are talking about these issues. We need more honesty among women that this decision is hard--and that pregnancy or postpartum is not always a glowing Hallmark card experience.

"The official professional position is that a comprehensive "risk-benefit analysis" is necessary, because there is no "Right Answer". This means weighing the possible effects on the mother and baby of either choice —medication or doing without. There are documented serious negative effects of not treating depression and anxiety during pregnancy, including low birth weight. Over the twenty years that I have worked with postpartum moms, information has changed as research and drugs continue to evolve. Responsible, caring healthcare providers are usually glad to look at the issues for any individual’s case. If not, get a second opinion.

"For the facts about meds during breastfeeding, one of the key experts is Dr. Thomas Hale, who has a website at http://neonatal.ttuhsc.edu/lact/ and is the author of a great resource, Medications and Mother's Milk. Dr. Hale is VERY reassuring, feeling most meds are safe--but he is addressing breastfeeding, not pregnancy.

"The most important point in the posts here that I want to re-emphasize is that women need to stop judging each other. Society as a whole is hard enough on us, setting up perfectionist, unreachable standards for mothers. We need to keep in mind the absolute truth, for the majority of women: that we are all doing the best we can do. No woman I have ever seen in my office takes medication for fun. Women take them to function.

"We need to support, not criticize, each other's choices—and know that there as many valid choices as there are women in the world. Trust that you have made the best decision for you, given available info at this point in time. Don’t second guess or torment yourself with “what ifs” once you have decided."

Thank you so much, Ann, for taking the time to visit my blog and to share your valuable insight with us. You're the best!!!

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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