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Epilepsy And Pregnancy
What you need to know about pregnancy and epilepsy:
Women with epilepsy can have a safe and healthy pregnancy. Epilepsy and epilepsy medicine may make it more difficult to become pregnant. Epilepsy and epilepsy medicine may also make it difficult to manage your pregnancy. Pregnancy may cause an increase or decrease in the amount of seizures that you have. Careful planning with your healthcare provider can decrease risks to you and your baby.
Have someone else call 911 for any of the following:
- You have a seizure during pregnancy.
- Your seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
- You have trouble breathing or stop breathing.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have a second seizure that happens within 24 hours of your first.
- You are injured during a seizure.
- After a seizure, you are confused longer than you usually are.
- You have vaginal bleeding or contractions.
- You cannot feel your baby move.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have trouble sleeping or managing stress.
- You have nausea or are vomiting and cannot take your medicine.
- Your seizures happen more often.
- You become depressed or have changes in your mood.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
How epilepsy may affect your pregnancy:
- A seizure during pregnancy can cause injury to you or your baby. During a seizure, the level of oxygen to your baby may decrease. This may cause brain or organ damage. A seizure may also cause preterm labor, preterm birth, or miscarriage.
- Epilepsy medicine increases the risk for birth defects. If you decide to get pregnant, your healthcare provider may change your medicine or decrease the dose to reduce this risk.
- During pregnancy, your body may react differently to epilepsy medicine. The medicine may not stay in your body as long. This may increase your risk for a seizure. Your dose may be changed multiple times during pregnancy.
Self-care during pregnancy:
- Take your epilepsy medicine every day at the same time. Do not skip a dose. Correct use of your medicine will lower your risk for a seizure during pregnancy.
- Take folic acid and prenatal vitamins as directed. Epilepsy medicine may decrease the amount of folic acid in your body. Folic acid may decrease your baby's risks for birth defects. You may need a larger dose in the first 3 months of pregnancy.
- Keep all appointments for blood tests. Blood tests will help your healthcare provider decide what dose of epilepsy medicine you need. The right dose will prevent seizures and birth defects in your baby. Your healthcare provider may need to change the dose of your medicine frequently throughout pregnancy.
- Do not drink alcohol or use drugs. This may harm your baby and increase your risk for seizures.
- Get prenatal screening as directed. Regular ultrasounds will help monitor your baby. You may need other tests to check for problems with your baby's heart or nervous system. These problems can be caused by epilepsy or epilepsy medicine. These tests will help your healthcare provider create safe labor, delivery, and care plans for you and your baby.
- Get plenty of rest. A lack of sleep may increase your risk for a seizure. Take naps throughout the day if you feel tired. Ask for help from family or friends with other small children or chores. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have trouble sleeping.
- Manage your stress during pregnancy. Too much stress can trigger a seizure. Meditate, do prenatal yoga, or do any activity that helps you relax. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help to manage stress.
Follow up with your neurologist and obstetrician as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.