Posted on February 17, 2018 by TMS Australia

Women who have depression symptoms during pregnancy or after childbirth may be reluctant to seek help due to concerns about taking medication while pregnant or breastfeeding. This is understandable; however, it is important to treat depression since it can interfere with the mother’s relationship with her baby, her partner and other family members.


How common is depression during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Depression during pregnancy and in the year following childbirth (postpartum depression) is common. In Australia, 1 in 10 Australian women experience depression symptoms during pregnancy and 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression symptoms.


What options are there to treat depression symptoms while breastfeeding?

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) recommend psychological therapy or depression medication while breastfeeding depending on the severity of the depression.


Which antidepressants are safe while breast feeding?

Depression medication can be considered for women with severe depression symptoms. Depression medication can be present in the breast milk, however most selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are present in very small amounts and are considered safe. It is important to consider the side effects of any medication and how these may impact the mother. For example, sedation may affect the mother’s ability to nurse during the night.


What are the drug-free depression treatment options?

Psychological treatments

Women with mild or moderate depression should undertake psychological treatments in the first instance. These include cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), non-directive counselling and interpersonal therapy (IPT).


TMS therapy

The research into the use of TMS as a depression treatment for pregnant or breastfeeding women is limited. One study by Garcia et al. in women with postpartum depression symptoms found that TMS treatment resulted in complete remission for 8 of the 9 women. To date, there have been no adverse effects reported on the babies of women who have received TMS while breastfeeding.


TMS is a safe treatment for breastfeeding mothers suffering from depression.

You can find out more about TMS for the treatment of postpartum depression symptoms by contacting the TMS Australia team on 1300 867 888 or