Most women with epilepsy deliver healthy babies. However, one should be extra careful in such a situation and be informed to handle any untoward event. So if you have epilepsy and planning a baby, here is all you need to know.
Epilepsy and Pregnancy:
Some drugs used to treat seizures might cause infertility. However, some of the anti-seizure medications can also reduce the effectiveness of hormonal birth control methods.
Seizures During Pregnancy Can Cause:
- Decrease in the heart rate of fetus
- Injury to the fetus, premature separation of the placenta from the uterus or even miscarriage
- Preterm labor
- Premature birth
Every woman has a different reaction to pregnancy. For most pregnant women who have epilepsy, seizures remain the same. For a few, seizures become less frequent. For others, especially those who are sleep deprived or are irregular in their medication, pregnancy increases the number of seizures.Moreover, babies born to mothers suffering with epilepsy have a slightly higher chance of developing seizures when they grow up.
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Should Medication be Taken?
Medication taken by you can affect your baby. Anti-seizure drugs might develop birth defects like cleft palate, heart and urinary tract ailments, skeletal and neural defects- a matter of serious concern. The risk increases further when more than one anti-seizure drug is taken.
What Should I do to Prepare for Pregnancy?
To prepare for your pregnancy, the first thing you should do is talk about your condition to the doctor who will be handling your pregnancy, and make sure if the medication is to be continued or not. If you are taking anti-seizure medicines, the doctor might recommend vitamin K supplements in the last month of pregnancy to avoid bleeding problems in the baby after birth. Take you anti-seizure medicine according to the prescription; because seizures can be more dangerous for your baby than any medication.
Try and improve your lifestyle by making smart choices like-
- Try to eat a healthy balanced diet
- Prenatal vitamins should be taken
- Adequate sleep is a must
- Refrain from smoking, drinking alcohol and doing illegal drugs
Folic acid are extremely important as they prevent neural tube defects, and serious problems of the brain and spinal cord. The seizure drugs affect the effectiveness of folic acid in the body; thus the doctor might recommend high doses of folic acid during pregnancy.
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What if I have a seizure when I’m pregnant?
Seizures can be hazardous, but most of the times the baby delivered is normal. You should consult your doctor regarding this in order to be sure about the condition of the baby.Ultrasounds and other prenatal tests must be done to test the growth of the baby.
Most pregnant women suffering with epilepsy deliver their babies without any complications. Women with the condition can use the same pain control methods as other women during labor.
Seizures are rare during labor. Intravenous drugs are used to stop the seizure in case one occurs during labor. If the seizures are persistent, the doctor might go with a C-section to deliver the baby. If the dosage of the anti-seizure medicine was changed owing to pregnancy, you should talk to doctor about reverting it back to the normal levels after childbirth in order to keep your seizures under control.
Breast-feeding is encouraged for most women suffering from epilepsy, even those who are on medication. Any problems should be consulted with the doctor without any adieu.
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Epilepsy and pregnancy can be a really sensitive case, and it should be handled with utmost care. The best thing to do in such a scenario is follow the physician’s instructions and keep him informed.