Pregnancy and epilepsy

Pregnancy and epilepsy

Epilepsy Centre

Pregnancy and epilepsy

More than 90% of women with epilepsy will have normal, healthy infants. However, they are at greater risk for complications of pregnancy, labour and adverse pregnancy outcomes than women without epilepsy.

Before you get pregnant

Before you try to conceive, schedule an appointment with the health care provider who’ll be handling your pregnancy. Also meet with other members of your health care team, such as your family doctor or neurologist. They’ll evaluate how well you’re managing your epilepsy and consider any treatment changes you may need to make before pregnancy begins.

It’s important to make healthy lifestyle choices. For example:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Take prenatal vitamins
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine
  • Keep stress under control
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol and illicit drugs
  • Limit the amount of caffeine in your diet.

To minimise the risks to you and your baby, you need to do everything possible to maximise the chances of a normal pregnancy and delivery. Prenatal care is most important in helping you achieve this goal.

Pre-pregnancy and follow-up appointments with your neurologist will help to monitor your medication as your pregnancy progresses.

What you can do to help reduce the risks to your baby

The best thing you can do for your baby is to take good care of yourself.

Reduce stress

While you are pregnant, try to reduce the stress in your life. Get plenty of rest and sleep, and engage in moderate exercise such as walking every day. If your stress level remains high, it may be helpful to ask your doctor or nurse about relaxation techniques.

Take prescribed medication

Always remember to take your medication as prescribed, and be sure to report seizures to your doctor so measures can be taken to reduce them. Usually uncontrolled seizures pose a greater risk to your baby than does any medication.

You should also take prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid. It is recommended that all women of childbearing age take at least 0.4 mg of folic acid per day because it may play a part in reducing the risk of birth defects. To get the maximum benefits of folic acid, you should begin taking it before you become pregnant, and then continue it throughout your pregnancy. Keep in mind that much of your baby’s development will take place during its first six weeks in the womb.

What to do if you have a seizure when you’re 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 may adjust your medication to help prevent other seizures. If you have a seizure in the last few months of your pregnancy, your health care provider may monitor your baby at the hospital or clinic.

Labour and delivery

Most pregnant women who have epilepsy deliver their babies without complications. Women who have epilepsy may use the same methods of pain relief during labour and delivery as others. If you have a seizure during labor, it may be stopped with intravenous medication. If the seizure is prolonged or your labour doesn’t progress normally, your health care provider may deliver the baby by C-section.


Breast-feeding is encouraged for most women who have epilepsy, even those who take seizure medication. Discuss any adjustments you’ll need to make with your health care provider ahead of time. Sometimes a change in medication is recommended.

Our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EWP) is available 24 hours a day if you want to know more about epilepsy. Call us on the EWP number or email us at
var prefix = 'ma' + 'il' + 'to';
var path = 'hr' + 'ef' + '=';
var addy82016 = 'help' + '@';
addy82016 = addy82016 + 'lifeassist' + '.' + 'co' + '.' + 'za';
//–>n ]]><![CDATA[
]]>This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.