Seizure Disorders in Pregnancy

Seizures are when the activity of nerve cells in the brain become abnormal. A seizure can cause changes in many ways not limited to movement. It can change the emotions, consciousness or in mood. Seizures can often be controlled with medication, they do not cure the disease, just help to control the symptoms.

When you have a seizure disorder and you are planning on getting pregnant, there are some Seizure disorders in pregnancy | complications that can arise.

  • There is a higher risk of birth defects if the mother has a a seizure disorder.  It is unknown whether the disorder increases the risk or if it is the medications used to regulate it.
  • It can increase the risk of injury to you or your baby
  • Pregnancy can change how often you have seizures. Equally, women can decrease, increase, or continue having seizures at the same rate as before they were pregnant

Seizures, especially those that cause loss of consciousness and violent jerking movements, can cause serious injuries to both mother and baby. Some anti-seizure medication have higher risk of birth defects like cleft lip, cleft palate, heart defects and neural tube defects.  The risk of birth defects is low, much lower than that of injury from a seizure, so it is often advised that you continue your medication even if you are pregnant.  Make sure to talk to your health care provider about the medication you are taking before you are pregnant, there may be better medication options with lower risks of birth defects.

During pregnancy your health care provider will do blood tests to check your medication levels and screen for birth defects.  Medication needs to be constant to prevent side affects and regulate seizures.  Your health care provider will also often do other diagnostic testing for birth defects like targeted ultrasound, amniocentesis or CVS.

When you are in labor, there are no reasons you need to schedule a c-section, most women with a seizure disorder can birth normally.  Occasionally there can be a complication during labor related to the seizure where a c-section may be needed.

After the birth it is completely safe to breastfeed your baby.  Some seizure medication shows up in breast milk but only in small traces and it is harmless to your baby.

Anti-seizure medication can often decrease the effectiveness of your contraceptive.  You should ask your health care provider about options that are more effective while taking the medication.

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