Dealing With Epilepsy and Pregnancy

Epilepsy is a condition concerning the nervous system. It is caused by some disorder in the brain and is typically characterized by seizures and loss of consciousness. If you have a history of epilepsy and are pregnant, or are trying to conceive, certain facts may be of interest to you.

Women with epilepsy generally have fewer children than those without. It’s possible that personal choices impact in this scenario. However, research studies have determined the incidence of more irregularities associated with the menstrual cycle and gynecological difficulties in epileptic women and these, likely, have an impact on fertility.

Possible Risks of Pregnancy To The Mother

Women with epilepsy are more likely to experience complications in pregnancy. The most common of these would be frequent occurrence of seizures, vaginal bleeding in the course of pregnancy and after, high blood pressure and too much protein in urine beyond the 20th week of pregnancy (preeclampsia), and detachment of the placenta from the womb.

Possible Risks To The Baby

While the majority of epileptic mothers do deliver normal, healthy babies, some risks may be involved. These could be associated with the pregnancy, labor experience or after birth. Babies have a higher risk of undergoing stillbirth or premature birth. They could also experience seizures as they get older and irregularities in growth and development. Some of the medications that mothers with epilepsy take may have adverse effects on their babies, possibly causing birth defects. Talking to your doctor about your epilepsy medication and the possible effects on your baby is something that you should discuss as early as when you’re considering getting pregnant.

Formation of cleft lips, improper growth of parts of the mouth, abnormalities of the heart, neurological complications like spina bifida which affects the spinal cord, are some possible birth defects. While surgery may be applied in some cases in an attempt to rectify the problems, sometimes the complications cannot be fixed entirely. Sometimes, the abnormalities that arise on the baby are minor and nothing much can be done to change them. These basically concern the baby’s appearance. Facial features may be irregular such as eyes being set a bit too wide apart and short upper or lower lip. There may be noticeable differences in the shape of fingers or toes. 

Yet, if you choose not to take medications, the risks of complications developing increase. Bodily harm, delays and irregularities in growth and development, and even death, are all possible outcomes of seizures. The danger of a miscarriage or stillbirth becomes higher. Take your medications as advised by the doctor. This will help greatly to control your seizures. Even if you haven’t had a seizure in a couple of years you still need to consider the possibility of it happening and the impact that it can have on you or your baby while pregnant. Speak to your doctor to get a better understanding of the risks and work with them to find a suitable course of action for you and your baby.

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