One can have a healthy pregnancy though they have a history of epilepsy. But they need to take extra care. More than 95% of women have had healthy pregnancies.
What measures are to be taken if are on an anti-epileptic drug and plan to get pregnant?
If you are taking an anti-epileptic drug and plan to get pregnant make sure to consult with your doctor so they may alter the dose or change the type of medicine which will best suit a healthy pregnancy. It is always best to make changes to your medicine (as suggested by the doctor) before you get pregnant rather than after getting pregnant. Never stop taking any of your medicines unless the doctor suggests another option as this can affect both you and your baby.
Effect of pregnancy on epilepsy
The effects vary for each, for some, it may get better, for others it may remain unaffected but in some cases, it may also increase the frequency of seizure. In such cases be sure to consult your doctor.
Effect of epilepsy on pregnancy
Seizures during pregnancy can cause-
- Preterm labor or premature birth.
- Decreased oxygen to baby or slowing of heart rate.
- Placental abruption.
- Lower levels of Vitamin D.
- Withdrawal symptoms in some babies from the medicine which was given to mother but lasts only for little time.
Effect of epilepsy medicines on pregnancy
Some medicines may contribute to infertility.
Few other medicines may affect your baby. Birth defects like cleft palate, congenital heart or urinary tract defects are some of them. So it is always best to discuss the same with the doctor before planning on pregnancy.
Intake of folic acid for pregnancy when having anti-epileptic medicines
Remember to have your folic acid dosage from the day you plan to get pregnant as it can help reduce some serious abnormalities that may occur to the baby. But some of the medicines for seizures will prevent the folic acid to be completely absorbed. So one may have to higher doses of it (as prescribed by the doctor) and best to start at least three months before planning to conceive.
Once you are pregnant you may have to take extra appointments as compared to other pregnant women to keep a constant check on the levels of anti-epileptic medicines in the blood as well as the health and growth of the baby.
If you haven’t had any seizure for close to a year before being pregnant the chances of one occurring during pregnancy is highly reduced. If you have not had a seizure for past 4 to 5 years you may also be able to taper of the medicines but this can be decided only by the doctor.
Try to lead a healthy lifestyle. Follow healthy diet, have your prenatal vitamins on time and avoid alcohol, smoking and illegal drugs.
Labor and delivery for mothers having epilepsy
Most of them will be able to deliver their baby without any complications. Seizures do not usually occur during labor. If there is a chance for one to occur it can be controlled using intravenous medicines. In cases where there are increased chances of seizure to occur (if it occurred frequently during the last term of pregnancy), the doctor will suggest the best method to deliver the baby.
After delivery make sure to contact the doctor to check if the current dosage of medicines is fine or if it needs to be altered to previous levels. Babies born to mothers having epilepsy have a slight risk of developing seizures as they get older. There is no issue in breastfeeding your baby as the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any other side effects.
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