Bipolar Worse w/Second Pregnancy?
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Q:  Bipolar Worse w/Second Pregnancy?

I have bipolar and had my first baby 6 months ago.  Everything went  great...better than expected.  In a few years my husband and I would like to try for a second child, however, I have heard the second pregnancy causes bipolar to become much worse.  Is this true?

Dear Ms. K' --
I've never read that anywhere -- but I have mused "aloud" about it myself, so you might have actually run across that in something I wrote (if you ever find it somewhere else, I'd appreciate if you'd write and send it to me). I've been nurturing the hunch that post-partum mood changes are worse after each pregnancy and that the second pregnancy is when things really shift and become more noticeable (mood symptoms, that is). However, I must emphasize that this is just a hunch from listening to patients talk about their symptom histories, and as I've not encountered it elsewhere in the literature on this topic, you should probably ignore me. For example, here's an article on
risk factors for mood problems in pregnancy where you'd expect to find mention of this problem if it was "real", and it is not mentioned.

Doing the right things for management of your bipolar disorder through and after pregnancy (e.g. avoiding too much sleep deprivation, where at all possible (I know that's mighty tricky)) is much more clearly demonstrated to be an important factor in how you do than my little wondering about which pregnancy it is. Good luck with number two!

Dr. Phelps

Published August, 2004



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