Do I need more folic acid than other pregnant women do?
Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects, serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. Because some seizure drugs affect the way the body uses folic acid, your health care provider will recommend a high-dose folic acid supplement — ideally starting three months before conception.
What can I expect during prenatal visits?
During pregnancy, you'll see your health care provider often. Your weight and blood pressure will be checked at every visit, and you might need frequent blood tests to monitor your medication level.
If you're taking anti-seizure medications, your health care provider might recommend oral vitamin K supplements during the last month of pregnancy to help prevent bleeding problems in the baby after birth.
What if I have a seizure when I'm pregnant?
Seizures can be dangerous, but many mothers who have seizures during pregnancy deliver healthy babies. Report the seizure promptly to your health care provider. He or she might adjust your medication. If you have a seizure in the last few months of your pregnancy, your health care provider will monitor your baby at the hospital or clinic.
How can I make sure my baby is OK?
Your health care provider will monitor your baby's health throughout the pregnancy. You might have frequent ultrasounds to track your baby's development. Your health care provider might recommend other prenatal tests, as well.
What about labor and delivery?
Most pregnant women who have epilepsy deliver their babies without complications. Women who have epilepsy might be able to use the same methods of pain relief during labor and delivery as other pregnant women.
Seizures don't commonly occur during labor. If you have a seizure during labor, it might be stopped with intravenous medication. If the seizure is prolonged, your health care provider might deliver the baby by C-section.
If you have frequent seizures during your third trimester, you're more likely to have a seizure during delivery. Your health care provider will review the best delivery method with you to avoid increased risk of seizures during your delivery.
If your anti-seizure medication dose is altered for pregnancy, talk to your health care provider about returning to your pre-pregnancy levels shortly after delivery to continue keeping your seizures under control and your medication at safe levels.
Will I be able to breast-feed my baby?
Breast-feeding is encouraged for most women who have epilepsy, even those who take anti-seizure medication. Discuss adjustments you'll need to make with your health care provider ahead of time.
He or she might recommend taking your medication after a feeding. Sometimes a change in medication is recommended.
July 13, 2017
See more In-depth
- Risks during pregnancy. Epilepsy Foundation. http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/impact/reproductive-risks/risks-during-pregnancy. Accessed May 11, 2017.
- Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ129. Seizure disorders in pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq129.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140521T1342401418. Accessed May 11, 2017.
- Gabbe SG, et al. Neurological disorders in pregnancy. In: Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2017. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 28, 2017.