How to Cope When You’re Pregnant and Have ADHD
Pregnancy is a difficult enough time for most women, but for women with ADHD, being pregnant can become very complicated very quickly. Women who have ADHD are typically on a number of Category C drugs, meaning that though they are deemed safe for adults, they are not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Studies done on animals exposed to medications commonly used to treat ADHD such as Adderall or methylphenidates like Concerta, Ritalin LA and Metadate CD have shown a negative effect on developing pups. However, because the risks are uncertain, no studies have been done on humans to allow healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies to make any definite conclusions. That being said, a Category C label could also mean that the benefits of taking the medications while pregnant may outweigh potential risks. This is why it is imperative that all women who have ADHD talk with their doctors about what drugs are and are not acceptable to take while pregnant.
Non-Medication Treatments for ADHD
In addition to being uncertain about the risks of certain medications on the developing fetus, expectant mothers with ADHD have to worry about heightened symptoms. If medication is not recommended, these mothers still need to be able to control their actions. If you have ADHD and are expecting a baby, use these tips to control your symptoms and enjoy everything pregnancy has to throw your way:
- Get Plenty of Sleep
Expectant mothers in general need more sleep than before, as the growing fetus inside of them eats up a majority of the mother’s stored energy. As an expectant mother with ADHD, it may be difficult to slow down and get the rest you need, but if you want to be able to control your symptoms and create a calm environment for your unborn child, you need to get a few more zzz’s each night than normal. If that’s not possible, try sneaking in a few naps throughout your day. Not only are cat-naps good for the brain, but studies indicate that they help control symptoms of ADHD as well.
- Exercise Daily
What better way to burn all that pent up energy than exercise it out? While you should always work out, pregnant or not, if you’ve been meaning to make good on your New Year’s resolution, this is the time to do it. Not only will you experience better physical and mental health by going on a short jog each day, but also, you’ll notice an improvement in your overall symptoms.
- Take Your Vitamins
In addition to your prenatal vitamins, add magnesium and B6 to your mix of daily vitamins. These supplements in particular have been proven to modify the behavior of ADHD patients, making them less hyperactive, less aggressive and better at paying attention. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of these supplements, talk to your doctor about adding them to your daily regime.
- Get Rid of Gluten
We know, when you’re pregnant your cravings control you rather than the other way around. However, if you want to experience optimal mental health and reduce the symptoms of ADHD, don’t cave to your cravings for whole grains and wheat products, and stick to a strictly gluten-free diet. Not only will this help to control your symptoms, but also, one study shows that gluten intolerance is common in people with ADHD. Participants of the study who cut gluten out of their diet experienced an improvement in thinking and behavior.
- Practice Meditation
One study published in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that 64 percent of participants with ADHD reported a decline in inattentive and hyperactive-impulse symptoms after taking up mindful meditation. These individuals also reported an improvement in their self-management, self-organization and self-discipline, as well as an ability to better control their emotions and deal with stress.
- Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy was designed to help patients with ADHD manage their symptoms better by helping them develop their executive skills, which include time-management, planning and organization. If you have already tried the above tips and still cannot get a handle on your symptoms, cognitive behavioral therapy may be just what the doctor ordered.
- Look Into Coaching
Like cognitive behavioral therapy, there are coaching courses specifically designed to help adults manage behavior in all areas of their lives by teaching them about accountability. These coaches help individuals set up realistic and specific goals, and then help them develop plans that will allow them to achieve those goals. They ask participants about possible obstacles they might face on their road to success, and encourage them to think of solutions ahead of time, that way they’re equipped to deal with challenges as they arise.
Is There Any ADHD Medications Safe to Use While Pregnant?
You may have found websites with lists of ADHD medications deemed “safe” for use while pregnant, but don’t take those lists at face value. While some medications may, in fact, be okay to use, you should never rely on medical advice given by anyone but your own doctor. Your doctor knows you and your current medical conditions better than anyone else. They know what medications you’re currently taking, as well as what pregnancy complications you might be going through. With that said, your doctor is the only one who can tell you what is safe for you to take given your current health status.
Let the Reynolds Clinic Help Make Your Pregnancy an Enjoyable One
While ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed disorder in children, in most cases, symptoms don’t present themselves until an individual is an adolescent or full- grown adult. There can be several triggering events, or there can be none. Whatever you case is, the fact remains: if you’re pregnant, it can be difficult to treat your symptoms with medication. For this reason, it is important that you seek the help of a professional who specializes in the treatment of ADHD and who can provide you with the cognitive tools you need to control the symptoms yourself.
If you’re pregnant and wish to enjoy a happy, healthy state of mind throughout the duration of your pregnancy without the help of medications, reach out to the doctors at The Reynolds Clinic to see how they can help you.