Pregnancy and Epilepsy

What precautions should pregnant women take?

Women who have seizures can have healthy children, provided they receive good prenatal care. It is very important that women who have epilepsy discuss pregnancy with their doctors BEFORE getting pregnant. Anti-epileptic medicines can cause defects in the fetus. All women of child-bearing age who have epilepsy should take a multivitamin containing folic acid daily, because some epilepsy medicines deplete the body of important vitamins.
Many seizure medicines can prevent birth control pills from working effectively, which might lead to unplanned pregnancy. If pregnancy occurs unexpectedly, women should NOT discontinue their seizure medicine without first consulting with their doctors. Abruptly discontinuing seizure medicine commonly leads to more frequent seizures, which can also harm the baby.
The frequency of seizures usually does not change significantly during pregnancy. Medicine blood levels should be checked often. This precaution is taken because levels gradually decrease during pregnancy and reach their lowest level around the time of delivery, which might result in breakthrough seizures. All seizures occurring during pregnancy should be reported to your doctor. Women should NEVER discontinue seizure medicines without consulting their doctors.
Most pregnant women with epilepsy have normal vaginal deliveries, although cesarean sections (removal of the baby through an incision made in the abdomen) are required in some cases.
Women taking seizure medicines can breast-feed their infants. Some medicines can cause babies to become very sleepy and irritable after feedings. If these effects occur, discontinue breast-feeding until you consult with your doctor.