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Busting myths about medication and breastfeeding

2 August 2022

This World Breastfeeding Week, the Perinatal Wellbeing Service is taking the opportunity to share an important message- that taking anxiety and depression medication doesn’t have to signal the end of your breastfeeding journey.

Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Simone Harvey said that despite common misconception, contemporary evidence supported the use of antidepressants when breastfeeding, where it was an appropriate part of treatment.

"Perinatal illnesses like depression and anxiety are common and for some breastfeeding women, antidepressant medication forms an important part of treatment," she said.

"The most common worry for breastfeeding women is that medication will harm their baby and unfortunately this often results in them stopping breastfeeding or choosing not to take a medication that may be important as part of their recovery."

Figures reveal that one in ten women will develop depression and/or anxiety during pregnancy and one in seven after they have their baby.

Teaching women to take care of themselves and their mental health is just as important as taking care of their baby- which is where the Perinatal Wellbeing Service step in.

The Perinatal Wellbeing Service for Logan, Beaudesert and Redlands is a community-based specialist perinatal mental health service providing assessment and brief intervention, treatment and support to postnatal women with mental health concerns. 

Part of the support provided by Simone and the Clinical Nurse Consultants in the team: Jennifer and Erica, is providing women with accurate and up to date information relevant to taking antidepressants while breastfeeding. 

The team also provide advice to other health practitioners. 

“Supporting women to make decisions about starting, continuing or stopping antidepressants requires a collaborative approach with the woman and her partner or support person, based on that individual women’s presentation and history," she said.

“Along with the discussing the risks and benefits for mother and baby [of taking medication] we also concentrate on the importance of effectively treating depression or anxiety, and the negative impacts to them and their relationship with their baby if left untreated,” Simone said.
 
The wellbeing team encourage women who have put off seeking help due to misinformation to speak to their GP, child health nurse or other health practitioner, or to contact them directly on 3089 2734.

Last updated 2 August 2022
Last reviewed 2 August 2022

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