How to Manage ADHD During Pregnancy


An old journalism friend reached out to me this month to get my thoughts on a new restaurant. Her bribe of pie and company got me so excited that in the midst of making plans to see her I completely forgot to send her my quotes. A week after deadline I made the mortifying connection. As a new mother, she completely understood.

I had expected that managing my ADHD and pregnancy would be hard without meds. What I didn’t expect was for my ADHD to actually get worse due to the influx of hormones. Navigating that and mind-numbing fatigue is the key to how to manage ADHD during pregnancy.

The truth still stood, however, that this was a problem! After some asking around, I determined that my first line of defense is to make sure I’m keeping up with to-do lists, calendar reminders and other ADHD productivity tools. All the ADHD prep I’ve been doing these past couple of years is going to be more critical than ever. This includes things like being on top of junk mail in my inbox – the fewer distractions I have, the better.

In the past few weeks, I have had exactly enough energy to muddle through work and drive home. On a good day I am able to cook dinner and sit through an entire movie with my husband. This energy drain means that I have had to scale back dramatically on some of my most cherished projects, including this blog!

How To Manage ADHD During Pregnancy

The idea that this isn’t forever is what’s kept me going. I know that my life will never be the same and perhaps my side projects never will take up the same space in my life that they once had. But what I also know is that there’s this magical thing that is supposed to happen in the second trimester in which some of my energy is expected to return. That alone has been enough to keep me going (no matter that it goes away again in the third … )

All that stuff you read about self care is so spot-on. And I really do hate it when you’re too tired to move that somebody recommends exercise, but here’s the thing: it works. It absolutely 100% works. As part of my work for my morning routine merit badge, I made it a goal of mine to work in an easy 15 minutes of walking before I head out to work. It has worked wonders in setting the right tone for the day and getting my blood pumping. I’m also able to knock out a sizeable chunk of my steps goal, which I’m tracking on my FitBit.

Hydration and proper nutrition have also come into play lately, even more so than before I became pregnant. Water and essential nutrients (especially protein) have become critical in ensuring that not just my body but the little person I’m creating become a well-oiled machine. I find that I’m more alert and think more clearly when I’ve taken care to eat better and stay hydrated. And when I feel better I am more productive.

Image: Unsplash/Freestocks.org


2 thoughts on “How to Manage ADHD During Pregnancy

  • April 23, 2017 at 11:05 am

    When I was pregnant with our first child, I stopped my ADHD meds, assuming continuation was a non-starter. But before we got pregnant with our second, I did some research and discovered it’s a misconception that Adderall is a definitive no.

    I consulted with a high risk OB who specializes in the treatment of pregnant women with mental health issues. I was able to take a lower dose of adderall through my pregnancy, approx 30-40 mgs per day. She confirmed what I found in my research: the assumption that ADHD is prohibitive during pregnancy is based off the effects of illicit drug use during pregnancy, not on retrospective studies of carefully monitored therapeutic doses. The two cannot be compared, b/c illicit use is usually much higher than therapeutic, never mind that it is usually accompanied by use of other drugs, alcohol, etc. She was far more concerned that I not take any Xanax during my pregnancy, which was not a problem at all. I only take it for anxiety that occurs with PMS, not an issue during pregnancy thank heaven! She said there is progress being made to find ethical ways to determine the safety of psych meds in pregnancy, but it still needs greater awareness. We don’t have to sit on our hands to be safe, we can be safe while seeking out solutions. Stable mental health is crucial during pregnancy, and support needs to be more of a focus.

    It’s critical that I point out, IN NO WAY should anyone read this and make their own medical decisions. I write this as a means of giving hope to women who felt like I did, lost and discouraged at the thought of roughing out another pregnancy without meds, this time with the extra charge of a three year old to care for! It’s a decision that should be made by an expert in this specific field, so my encouragement is to keep searching until you find someone who can give you actual data and substance, not simply “it’s too risky, we don’t know enough. Better safe than sorry.” My regular doctor, who did my prenatal care, was adamantly opposed to the idea, but she willing admitted that she was not up to speed on that and was open to referring to a specialist. She was convinced afterwards, and my little girl is wonderfully healthy and developmentally on target with all the typical drama of a “threenager”! This is a very personal decision. I just wish I’d have had all the facts with my first!

  • April 24, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    That’s really great to know, Jessica. If we have a second, I’m definitely going to consult a fetal specialist. I never even thought of asking when I saw them the first time around. I just assumed it was out of the question. It definitely gives me hope – I was just thinking the other day that I couldn’t imagine doing what I do now (caring for a newborn) and also being responsible for a toddler! I mean, people do it but it always boggles my mind. I feel like I’m barely keeping it together as it is!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *