Pregnancy and Epilepsy: Top 3 Questions
My husband and I have decided we are ready to continue growing our family. Since we have made this decision, I have received a lot of epilepsy-related pregnancy questions. Here's a little "question and answer" with the 3 most common questions I have been asked.
And of course, to get answers to your own pregnancy questions, always speak directly with your healthcare provider.
Questions on Pregnancy as a Woman With Epilepsy
If I have epilepsy won't my child have it as well?
What I've Learned:
I learned from my daughter's neurologist at the Phoenix Children's Hospital that it is unlikely my children will have epilepsy simply because I do. With my type of epilepsy, since I am the only parent who has it, the doctor informed me that my children have a 3%-5% chance of inheriting epilepsy.
In my article "Childhood Absence Epilepsy: Will My Daughter Inherit It From Me?" I spoke about getting my daughter evaluated for a seizure disorder. After her consultation, the neurologist told me that due to my daughter's current cognitive reactions, she does not see any indication that my daughter has a seizure disorder.
Is it safe to take seizure medication while pregnant?
What I've Learned:
During my first pregnancy, I took lamotrigine (Lamictal). Neither my daughter's pediatrician nor the pediatric neurologist showed any concerns about a negative impact on my daughter.
For my next pregnancy, I will be again taking lamotrigine and adding brivaracetam (Briviact). In my article "My Experience With Briviact" I wrote about Briviact and my pregnancy. Recently, I had an appointment with my neurologist. I explained my concerns and he reassured me that I am on a low dosage. He also told me that Brivact is a "cousin" medication to Keppra which has been found to be safer during pregnancy. My neurologist is not concerned about the impact of the medication (although he stated he can't make promises).
As a side note, I learned about a great website that can help other mothers: AEDPregnancyRegistry.org. If you are pregnant and taking antiepileptic drugs, you can register with this research organization. They will track your pregnancy and medication to help add data to their research on this important topic. I plan on signing up when I become pregnant, and I wish I would have done this with my daughter.
Will I have to have a C-section?
What I've Learned:
For me, the answer was no for the birth of my daughter. As for my next pregnancy, I have not been given an indication that due to my epilepsy I will need a C-section.
My Pregnancy Tips
Here are some additional tips from my first pregnancy that I will continue with my next pregnancy.
- Due to the need for folic acid, I increased my folic acid to 5mg per day. This is something I discussed with my OB and neurologist. As a team, we agreed this was the best choice for my pregnancy.
- I have a couple of extra appointments set up with my neurologist. This way we can track my medication levels.
- I plan on breastfeeding. My daughter had a tongue tie, so she did not breastfeed for long. However, my neurologist told me that he recommends breastfeeding, if possible.
Let me know if you have any other questions. If I have had experience related to your questions, I'll be happy to answer them.
Remember to talk to your epilepsy doctor
As I stated earlier, it is extremely important to remember that I am giving you information from my personal experiences and from feedback that my neurologist and I agreed upon. Each woman and pregnancy are different. Speak with your provider to get the best information for you.
Always remember, you are not alone.
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