Book Review: Pregnant on Prozac

Book Review: Pregnant on Prozac: The Essential Guide to Making the Best Decision for You & Your Baby

By Shoshanna Bennett, Ph.D.
GPP Life, 2009
ISBN 978-0-7627-4940-9

248 pages, softcover, $16.95

Reviewed by Molly Remer, MSW, CCCE

Written by a clinical psychologist and mother of two, Pregnant on Prozac is a comprehensive look at the benefits and risks of antidepressant use during pregnancy or postpartum. The focus on depression during pregnancy is what makes this book stand out—this is a subject that has received very little attention and it is important for doula and childbirth educators to learn more about the issues involved.

The book includes sections on “natural and emerging treatments” including homeopathy and acupuncture as well as a section on nutrition, though the overall emphasis is on pharmacological treatment methods.

The information presented is very comprehensive, though I was disturbed by the suggestion not to read the package inserts coming with medications, but to trust your doctor to know “what is safest for you and your baby.” This is not the type of informed decision-making I promote in my work with pregnant and new mothers!

Pregnant on Prozac briefly addresses midwives and doulas in a section about “helping professionals who may be of use to you.”

I have three significant critiques of the book. During one section the author waxes eloquent about the non-specific benefits of an unnamed “exercise system” and then later an unnamed “nutritional system.” She glowingly recommends these unidentified systems and refers readers to her website for more information about the nutritional system and to another website for the exercise system. I suddenly felt like I was reading a commercial and the tone called into question for me the validity and reliability of the entire rest of the book.

My third critique is that the segment addressing medication use while breastfeeding is woefully incomplete, falling back on the trite platitude “a calm, happy mother is more important to a child’s healthy development than breast milk.” Though I do not quibble with the truth of this statement in an “ultimate” sense, my concern is that it summarily dismisses the fact that many women can take medication AND breastfeed—it is not an either or situation! The very brief section on breastfeeding also included the questionable and disappointing statement, “you can even get better eye contact with your baby with a bottle in its mouth instead of being squished face-first into your breast.”

Each of these sections is small, but my concerns about them are large. Despite these critiques however, I would still recommend Pregnant on Prozac to birth professionals and parents seeking information about treatment options for depression during pregnancy with the caution not to rely on it as your only resource and certainly not to count on it for advice on exercise, nutrition, or breastfeeding.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

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