My Zulresso infusion experience after the birth of my third baby and history of postpartum depression and anxiety
As you may know, I suffered from deep postpartum depression after second child, my daughter, Bee was born in 2018. Finn and Bee are exactly 17 months apart.
Looking back, I see warning signs of the risk for PPD in my pregnancy with Finn and in the postpartum period after his birth. My pregnancy with Finn was very physically hard, which led me to ignore the emotional signs of perinatal mood disorders. Finn was a big baby from the start – I ended up gaining 75+ pounds while working full time as an RN – not to mention the SWELLING! I was so swollen that my feet grew 3.5 sizes and I had pitting edema. Check out this photo at 36 weeks even after wearing compression stockings!
I explain a bit more about environmental factors contributing to my PPD in my blog post here, but long story (very) short my little cousin was diagnosed with cancer and died the same year which was an incredibly tragic and horrific time on top of many other life changes.
After Bee was born, I immediately had trouble sleeping and had intrusive thoughts about robberies, house break ins, fires, and falling down the stairs with her. I wouldn’t even make it to 9 am without having a crying episode and would continue to have episodes throughout the day, often calling my husband to come home around 2pm. Looking back, I couldn’t even tell you what was wrong, but I knew something was.
I developed some OCD traits around sleep with Bee and cleaning of my house – two things I could control. I finally sought help in the form of therapy around 5 months postpartum and started medication around 6 months postpartum. And things slowly got better!
And then…I got pregnant unexpectedly with Ro. My anxiety and depression shot through the ROOF – I was completely petrified of having PPD again and obsessed over it my entire pregnancy. I stayed on my medication and continued weekly therapy throughout my entire pregnancy and wanted to set up the best support possible after the baby was born to decrease my chances of PPD relapse. I explain more here.
In this postpartum plan, I was going to continue my medication, continue therapy, have the kids in daycare, a doula (this all didn’t happen – thank you, COVID) and a new, the first, FDA approved medication for PPD called Zulresso at 5 months postpartum.
Zulresso is a prescription IV infusion that is used to treat postpartum depression. The infusion is given continuously over 60 hours in which the patient is monitored the entire time by staff and a pulse oximeter. Zulresso is given in addition to your regular medication and therapy, not in replacement, and can be given up to 1 year postpartum (as of the date of posting this blog post).
Although the timing of Zulresso wasn’t what I had originally planned because of COVID, I was able to receive the medication at Better Beginnings in Florida in July of 2020. The head, Lauren, was so wonderful and helpful in working with my insurance to cover the drug. Sage Therapeutics also offers up to $15K coverage of the treatment, so I did not owe a penny for the treatment.
My family has a home in Florida which is why I chose Better Beginnings. They were able to help watch my 3 kids (including the baby) while I received Zulresso.
You can watch my experience here on IGTV.
I can’t explain what exactly Zulresso did, but a few days after the infusion, I felt as if a fog had been lifted and a switch was turned on in my brain. Things seemed…clearer. Literally! Brighter and clearer.
I continued my medication and therapy after Zulresso and I can proudly say I have not experienced any PPD symptoms this time around. And I know Zulresso had something to do with it.
If you are suffering from PPD or other PMADs, you are NOT ALONE. It feels as if you are, but you are NOT. We are here for you at bumble.baby.
How much does it cost?
Typically between insurance and the Sage Therapeutics grant, Zulresso is little to no cost. I did not pay anything. This may be different for you depending on which insurance you have.
Is it covered by insurance?
Most insurances cover partial or fully.
Where is Zulresso available?
Zulresso is only available at certain certified locations.You can find your nearest location here.
How does Zulresso work?
The method of action is not known in Zulresso but it’s thought to have a “positive allosteric modulation” on the GABA receptors. To put in very simple science, and from what I can understand, GABA receptors help decrease overstimulation of cells (overstimulation = anxiety and depression). Zulresso increases the efficacy of GABA receptors so that they can do an even better job at controlling the overstimulation of cells (control anxiety and depression at a cellular level).
Do I have to have a history of PPD to receive Zulresso?
No, you can be going through a current episode or it can be preventative.
Can I breastfeed/pump while receiving Zulresso? Can my baby have this milk?
Zulresso is transferred to breastmilk. There have been no studies on the safety of breastfeeding/providing milk while being treated with Zulresso but as of when I was treated, it was considered safe and I did feed this milk to Roey at a later date. You should talk to your provider when making the decision to breastfeed or provide breastmilk during the infusion.
Do I have to be separated from my baby?
No! You can bring the baby with as long as another caregiver is there. There is a risk of loss of consciousness with Zulresso, so a 24 hour caregiver is required for the baby. I did not bring Roey with me. I suggest separating so you can rest and recover, but this is a personal choice!
Will I be staying overnight during the infusion?
Yes – the infusion is 60 hours straight so you will be staying 3-4 nights, depending on when you start the infusion.
Are there negative side effects?
Very few, but read more here.
How long after I have my baby can I receive Zulresso?
Any time before 1 year of age, but can be taken on a case by case basis.
Can I stop my regular medication once I receive Zulresso?
It’s recommended that you continue medication and therapy in addition to Zulresso, even after the infusion.
Where can I find more info?
**This post is educational and not meant to take the place of your provider.