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Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Good morning,

I am very curious to hear the experience of women while they were pregnant, and during labor & birth of a child. 

How did the pain, stress affect your epilepsy, and was it easy to manage seazures? I am trying to figure out how to deal with the actual birth process, and I am seriously considering a c-cection, where I would like to be under total anesteshia. I would love to go through the natural birth, no epidural or pain med, but I am worried that the pain of labor will give me seizures. Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

By the way, I am not taking any meds for epilepsy, as my seizures are only about once a year...and I know the trigger, so I avoid doing things that I know could trigger the seizure.

 

Thank you all so much,

Sonja C.

Comments

re:Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

I'm pregnant with my second child while taking Keppra for JME.  Keppra has controlled my seizures very well before and during pregnancy.  My body definitely needs more sleep during pregnancy or I am more prone to jerks.  As long as I get enough sleep and take my proper doses on time (same time morning and evening) then I am fine.

As for labor and delivery:  I feel very strongly about having a natural birth. My OB was very supportive and I had a doula present to help with my first son's birth.  It went very well with no pain meds, no seizures and was about 6 hours (lucky first timer).  A few days after delivery and being very sleep deprived - my main trigger - I did have to call my neurologist and get my dosage upped from 2000mg to 3000mg a day.  I stayed on that dose for about a year and worked back down to 2000mg a day and have been fine.

Discuss different options with both your neurologist and OB.  Be sure to take extra folic acid and prenatals!

Re: re:Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Just wanted to update that my second son was born May 29!  I had no seizures and no pain meds.  God has blessed me with easy deliveries and my body starts working to deliver the baby early.  I started dilating with braxton hicks contractions a month before my due date and was 4cm dilated for 2 weeks before he came.   My active labor was just a little over 3 hours and my doula wasn't even sure we needed to go to the hospital yet.  When we got there I was fully dilated, my OB broke my water, and 10 minutes later my son was born.

Listen to your body and talk about your options with your doctors.  If you want a natural birth then go for it.  Especially if your seizures aren't that frequent.  Mine are, but are well controlled with meds.

-Sarah

Re: re:Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

What kind of medication(s) did you use during the pregnancy?  I have simple-partial seizures and I want to have children someday but I don't know what medications I should look into that are safe for pregnancies.

Re: re:Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

 I am 7months pegnant and I started taking lamictal when I was 4 months. I intake 200mgs a day. My due date is coming up and I am thinking about having my baby naturally, but I have three other children and only one of them came in natural birth. I am considering getting an epidural and IV medicine but not sure if my body can manage that with lamictal. I agree with you about the natural birth thing, but what if I can't handle it? Will the epidural be ok? Did anyone get an epidural while on lamictal? Nicole

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

I am 14 weeks pregnant with my first child.  I had my first and last siezure in 2006.  I am on 200 mg of Topamax.  I was diagnosed with Temporal lobe Epilepsy.  I have partial siezures.  So far my pregnancies been normal.  Other than chronic headaches which I have to see my neurologist for soon.  I also have to take a high dose of Folic acid becuase I'm on Topamax.  But everything is going good so far for me, no partial sizures no full blown siezures.  I do plan on doing natural child birth unless I something happens and I'm not allowed.  Really it's all up to you and your doctor.  You should speak to your neurologist and your ob/gyn about your choices.

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hi, I just found out that I'm pregnant. Like you I'm on 200mg of Topamax. What dose of folic acid do you take? I don't have seizures, so all good here. My first appointment is next week with the OBGYN.

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hi,

I am new to this forum, but not to epilepsy, I was diagnosed at 13 after having seizures for a year, I am 31 now and have a great career as a registered nurse, a wonderful husband, but more importantly a beautiful, healthy 13 month old little boy!!!  The experience was beautiful, i never had a seizure at all during the pregnancy, was unable to have pain meds or epidural (but was encouraged to have epidural by doctor to keep stress levels low) because he came so quickly, thank goodness!!! I take tegretol extended release and have been medication controlled for almost four years, I have just about every type of seizure, petit mal, grand mal, focal, so on and so forth.  I was unable to quit taking my medication, because without it, I would seize. My neurologist put me on 4 mg of folic acid because epilepsy meds increase the risk of neural tube defects and the simplest fix is folic acid.  Now i have a wonderful little boy who functions on a 18 month old level according to the pediatrician and so far no signs of epilepsy. But if your seizures are not very bad and you know the trigger just do everything in your power to avoid it, get plenty of rest, and enjoy the pregnancy, i loved it soooo much and want to do it again, my fear is gone, god saw me through the first and he will see me through another, good luck to you!!!

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

I have grand mal seizures and 2 wonderful sons that I had naturally- no pain meds- and no seizures!!

 I know that not all women are like that, but at least some are.

 

Talk to your doc and see what he/she says. Listen to yourself as well, you know your body better than anyone else!!

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

What kind of medication(s) did you use during the pregnancy?  I have
simple-partial seizures and I want to have children someday but I don't
know what medications I should look into that are safe for pregnancies.

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

What kind of medication(s) did you use during the pregnancy?  I have
simple-partial seizures and I want to have children someday but I don't
know what medications I should look into that are safe for pregnancies.

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

i was (and still am) 400mg of lamictal during both of my pregnancies. both were delived c-section. and seizure free. i had to have my ovary removed with my daughter's birth so i had general. which i wouldn't recommend. they woke me up before administering pain meds... not sure if that is standard or what, but it was not fun.

when my son was born i had an epidural c-section and it was much easier.

i remained seizure free during both very high stress pregnanies. however i only experienced the beginning of labor, as i had scheduled c-sections...

i also breastfeed both kids for a combined 2 and 1/2 years without incident. i have read elsewhere that some women have had milk supply issues, but not me.

prior to getting pregnant i was living without meds, having only one or two grand mals a year, but my doctor flat out told me that having a seizure puts me and my baby at more risk than that of taking the meds.

so i started taking the meds and have not had a grand mal since february 2003.

life on meds is rough, but it is better than having grand mals even once a year. my chilren have suffered no side effects from their exposure to my meds.

good luck to you all!

kat

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

I would have loved to have a forum like this 40 years ago with my first. I've had 3 children all adults now and my first 2 pregnancy went well. My last one was going along perfect until my 6th month when I had a seizure and that was because I got pregnet 9 months after my second. Too soon. Did't have any seizures during any of deliveries.  Strong 9lb 13oz baby boy who is now 6'1. What a doll. They are all healthy.

 God bless you

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hi there, new to the site.  I have had two children , both while on Tegretol XR and had no problems.  I was diagnosed at 18 and was very worried while pregnant.  I was on a high dose of folic acid, and considered a high risk pregnancy because of my epilepsy.  I nursed both of my boys for two years each and both are very healthy and advanced.  My triggers are sleep deprivation and stress, which i thought would make being pregnant impossible, but was lucky to never have any problems.  My second labor was very stressful, and i was able to make it thru without any seizure activity.  It seems the biggest stress in my life never causes the problems, just the little irritating every day stress!!  Who knows, but good luck on your pregnancy!

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

I'm on Tegretol now, I think it's called Carbatrol though. I just found out I'm pregnant and I'm very nervous about what to expect. It seems a lot of people here do have normal pregancies however. I'm curious about your breastfeeding your children, isn't it a concern because of the meds? I'd really like to but I've always been told you can't do it while on meds.

Thanks,

Kimberly Costa
www.cucudesign.com
www.honizukle.com

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

I have had Epilepsy for 8 years, and I had my daughter when I was 18. I was on Keppra, Lamictal and Depakote. I had no problems AT ALL during the pregnancy, however, the evening I went into labor, everything was going fine. I went through 6 1/2 hours of active labor with no epidural. I finally asked for it when I was dialated to 8 1/2cm. What I remember, was pushing 3 times and then they said she began to crown when I had a grand mal seizure. They used the vaccum to get her out since I could no longer push. She was perfectly fine and after about 10hrs of sleeping I was fine as well.

At this point, I am 8 months pregnant with my second and only on Keppra and Lamictal. I've had PLENTY of seizures this time around, but my doctors and I have decided to induce with a C-section making my son 2 weeks early.

Regardless of whether you know what triggers your seizures, you can NEVER be too safe as certain stresses on your body may be too much to handle. 

As much as I do want to do a c-section, I worry that a seizure could be too much on this baby if I were to have one during labor.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

c-cection and epilepsy

Hi Ladies,

I disagree with the idea of having a c-section as a "rule - to be safe" UNLESS there is medical necessity. All of the epilepsy literature states this.  I am not a doctor, just a mother who has done a lot of reading on this subject and who went through an experience where the MDs were trying to convince me to do a c-section because they were afraid of a "just in case" scenario that had a less than 5% chance.I did not opt for a c-section. I had seizures during labor, but I was ok. In the end I had a c-section due to a non-epilepsy related issue, but that was after 10 hrs of labor without an epidural. My best advice is to give birth in a place that has a good nic-U in case there are problems with the baby and where their is a good grp of epilepsy specialists in case you have problems. Go natural, unless like me your body requires a little help. 

During labor, if you start to have seizures that would put the baby and//or you in danger, defintiely a c-section is necessary. But it should not be used a routine method of delivery. In my experience, when i was in labor, at the start I had some seizures and as my labor progressed my seizures stopped. Seizures behave in unpredictable ways. Just be and act smart, not afraid.

Please do your homework and google your questions, you will find a ton of info this subject. C-sections have been overused and they are not risk-free.

 

 

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

 

  I have had 3 children. All 3 pregnacies were different.

  During the first, I had absolutly no problems at all. My ob took many precautions. I was on semi-bedrest for the last 2 months. The second was a little harder and I did have some seizures, but they weren't too bad. For this birth, I did not have an epidural, unlike the other two.

  My third was the worst. I had more seizures than ever before. I even ended up in the hospital in and out of a coma. I went into status-epileptus. The doctors did not think I would make it through the night. I din't keep up with my ep.dr. like I should've. She didn't seem to care  and did not think that the pregnancy was a big deal. Needless to say, the hospital gave me a different dr.  If I would've had a different ep.dr., this might not of happened. 

  All three births were normal w/o any complications due to the epilepsy.

  As long as you keep in touch with your drs. everything should be fine. Make sure your dr. knows that you are high risk and that special precautions need to be taken.  I had to see my ob. more often than what you would if you didn't have seizures and take extra vitamens. Folic acid is a big one. I did not get taken off of any of my meds. Except for my third kid, all are normal. The last might have epilepsy though and my other two were tested and all seems to be normal.

 Good luck.

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

During my pregnancy I went almost the whole time without having a seizure, I finally had one about a week before I was due. I chose to have a C-section instead of natural birth because i was afraid of having a seizure while giving birth. After my son was born I couldnt breastfeed because of the meds i was on, but my son still came out healthy and very adorable lol.

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

I was diagnosed with epilepsy when i was 3 days old, my parents expected it because my dad and grandmother have epilepsy, i have been on tegretol CR ever since i was 13. my husband and i have recently decided to have a baby and the symptoms are there but we waiting for alittle while before we can visit the dr but i have great concern because im afraid my baby will also suffer from epilepsy, is there any way for me to prevent this from happening?

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hi everyone ,

When i fell pregnant with my son 13yrs ago before i had him my seizures were regular as clockwork then when i fell pregnant i never had a single seizure till a few weeks after my son was born .

There was alot of worry would i be ok but because i was seizure free the doctors were so surprised but need less to say when i had the seizure after he was born they were back with vengance , i have never found out why it happened like that some people say it was hormonal but if that is the case then why do the medical profession not do more to help women who are more pron to seizures when they are due their periods .

I have little recollection of my pregnancy but the nite befor i remember being put in a room and then i was on a cloud watchin over the hosp the next thing i was walking to the door and opened it to my health visitor what else can i say but i promise it is true , all i will say is my son is fit and healthy and when i was pregnant it was the healthiest i have ever been .

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

hi ya

 I just read your message, and it looks to me your son safed you from your epilepsy :0) I had a fit after my birth why is that?

 

 

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hi, I have just come across this forum whilst researching epilepsy after child birth as my sister gave birth to her daughter 10 weeks ago and her epilepsy has been out of control ever since.

Until she got pregnant she had quite a regular cycle, and usually had a fit, or series of fits, and then was fine for around two years. Throughout her pregnancy, she, the same as you, said she had never felt better. She had no fits whatsoever. Three days after the birth she had a fit, and has not been herself since. She has been in to hospital twice in 6 weeks with status epilepticus and has been told to take frisium every day as well as the fenetone she has taken for 30 years.

As your story is similar I was wondering if you could give us any advice. How long did this period last fo after you gave birth? Have you since found anybody else that has suffered this way? The research I have carried out has come across problems during pregnancy but not after. As with you, hormonal inbalance was mentioned but now the nurses are saying her hormones should be back to normal! Any advice or info you coukd give us would be much appreciated

Many thanks

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

im 23 i  have a two year old son i took three seizure after i had my son he was like 4 months old i never took one before that at all so im on meds now and we want to have another baby i havnt took a seizure in almost two years but im scard to get pregnant if i stop the meds will i take one or will my baby be healthy if i took the meds? anyone been through this thanks alot if i can get a anwser or a story god bless

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

This whole thread is full of such wonderful stories of women having healthy babies. I found it while I was trying to find something relevent to me. But this thread is so active that I decided maybe somebody would see it and respond. My seizures are not under control. I go into status epilepticus and I have blood clotting issues. The OB is worried about me stroking out and the status. She has recommend that I terminate. She doesn't think I have a good chances of living. she said that she doesn't believe she can keep both the baby and me alive. So.... this is my problem. I've got to decide but this is SUCH a terrible decision that it almost feels surreal. I have three boys already that I had before my epilepsy kicked in. (Got it as a result of severe closed head injury) My health is not good. My husband is scared to death and says there is no choice. He doesn't want to lose me. But I can't help but think this little baby is one of my children now too. I don't know that I can 'terminate' it. Anyone else ever had this struggle.???

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hi Srchtt3,

I didn't have your difficulties but I did want you to know that you have support for what ever you decide. 

God bless you and your family. 

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Thank you so much..

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hi Srchtt3,

I am sorry to hear about your difficulties. If this were to happen to me, I would get a 2nd or third opinion from a top epilepstologist and an OB specialist with epilepsy experience. I can recommend some superb MDs in the Boston area. If interested email me at info@womenwithepilepsy.org. Best of luck with whatever decision you make. 

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hi, i got pregnant and gave birth to my daughter before i figured out i had epilepsy. I would say that there wasn't a huge increase in seizures (now that i know what they are and look back on them), and i dont think the birth process effected my epilepsy at all. But every person is different any every pregnancy is different. I would say it depends on how bad your seizures are, what type of seizures they are and what type of epilepsy you have. Good luck though.

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hi, 

I just delivered a 7lb 14oz baby boy on Dec 1 2009.  I am 41 years old and have every type of szr from simple to grand mal and was on 4 different aeds when I concieved and was tapered down to just two (Zonegran 600 qhs and Keppra 1500 2x/day) by the time I delivered.  I have adult onset epilepsy. I have one other child who is 10 years old who I was able to have completely natural... no meds, no IV, less than 6 hours in the hospital before I delivered. So, I wanted the same for this one but felt the exact same fears you are going through.  I had every Christian I knew praying and sought out the most knowledgable OB around.  The local hospital did not have high risk OB or an NICU and so we decided to drive a little ways to get both, I also called the local Bradley instructor who said the local chapter had only had one epileptic deliver naturally that they new of in their entire history.  Things were not looking good, so I went to the C section classes and talked to my OB who said that delivering naturally would be the best thing for both me and my child if at all possible but that I should be ready for both especially since my seizures were still not controlled.

When all was said and done all 4D ultrasounds showed a perfectly healthy baby boy  despite all the meds and grand mal (tonic clonic) seizures while he was in utero and on December 1st (1week late) they induced me with high dose pitocin and I was still able to have a completely natural childbirth with absolutely no auras or seizures!!!! I did get scared when he was in the canal but nothing adverse happened and he is a perfect, healthy, happy,  alert, baby...who keeps me up at night.  So, all things are possible with God and don't let all those stats scare you ( I know it is hard so, I wanted to share with you some of the postive stats as well).  I wish you the best.  LB34

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hi, I have had epilepsy my whole life. Well I was scared of getting pregnant as well, but it kind of happened. My whole pregnancy was pretty easy. I did have 2 grandma seizures. I went to the ER and they checked both times and the baby was just fine. When it came to delivery my doctor told me she wanted me to have a normal delivery. She was afraid that if I did a c-section I might have a seizure. I had a perfect delivery. I only had to push for 30 minutes which is stressful and that causes seizures, but it was a breeze! After my delivery I didn't have a seizure for 4 months, and then they came back. I would love to have another baby, but I'm having the surgery next month and I'm going to wait till I recover from that. I wish you the best!

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hello to everyone! First of all, I am so excited about this forum!! It is so great to be able to get information from actual women who are in the same predicament as myself! I am 27 and started having seizures when I was 19. About a year before I starting having auras but I had no idea what they were or why I had them. I have only had 4 seizures since I was 19. I had two grand mal seizures the first night and then two more about 2 years later. I decided I didn't want to take my medication anymore! BIG MISTAKE!! Now my husband and I want to start a family but of course we have the typical questions and concerns. I wanted to know if there is anyone who is or has been pregnant and has children while being on trileptal. I have heard about all the other meds but I have not heard anyone say anything about trileptal. I have been on this since day one. It works great for me and I have no break through seizures. So, does nayone know anything about my medication and being pregnant? If so, can you send me some info on it? mudslngingrl@aol.com. Also, I have heard that the Epilepsy clinic in Winston Salem NC is great. Does anyone know anything about this cinic? Thanks for your help!!

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Would you consider participating in a survey about this very issue? Your experience is important and would be invaluable for other women with epilepsy. Thanks, see below.

Survey: Women Who Had Epilepsy While They Were Pregnant And Who Have Already Completed One Or More Pregnancies That Resulted In Giving Birth

The survey takes less than 10 minutes.

Please visit www.WomenWithEpilepsy.org/takesurvey.html to participate in a survey for Women With Epilepsy (WWE) who have already completed one or more pregnancies to term.  The purpose of this survey is to gather information about the experiences of WWE who had seizures/epilepsy related events during pregnancy. The results of this survey will be compiled in order to give WWE who are considering pregnancy information that may help resolve some of their concerns and fears by learning from the experiences of other WWE.

For more information, contact info@womenwithepilepsy.org.
 

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

April

 How many weeks were you when you had these seizures

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

April

 How many weeks were you when you had these seizures

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

April

 How many weeks were you when you had these seizures

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

i had tonic clonic seziures all the way through havin my little boy which is now 4month old i was told there could be a risk but there is things they can do to prevent it like induction i got induced and did perfectally fine good luck tho

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

im 19 i have gran mal epilepsy an i just found im pregnant unplan an i want to keep  it but im so scared im going to have a fit during it. do the docotors take u off ur medication whille u pregnant?

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

no kids but im the same age as u and from my research u dont get taken off for fear of the seizures losing control but then there is also the risk of how the meds affect the child and it depends on how bad ur seizures are given that we have the same type of seizures (violent rite?) they'll ptobably keep u on them and a whole bunch of close watch too

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

I have been having seizures for a while and didn't even realize it. I had my son 9 months ago. I was going to have a water birth with no medication but due to absolutely no sleep the night before labor and really painful back to back contractions, I tried an IV medication. It didn't help much so I went for the epidural.  The labor was pretty easy and I was able to get rest before the labor too.  I found that the epidural didn't hurt as much as the women made out on tv.

I think it's important to know what you want but to know what else you would consider acceptable options.

Some people can go through labor all natural and some can't.  You are not a bad person for wanting medication.  I would recommend an epidural over having a c-section.  You really shouldn't have one unless it is medically necessary because it can affect whether or not you are able to have a vaginal birth with another child.

If you can find a midwife who is flexible, that would be the best. I would recommend staying informed on what your options are and also the risks.  Also, be very open with your doctor or midwife.   

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Pregnancy - well like many women before me, I wasn't expecting a baby at the time one came along! So the whole pregnancy idea, along with epilepsy was a new ball game for me! I prayed "God, you'll have to take me every step of the way, because I can't do this without you." (Yep, I was scared!)

The epilepsy was controlled on Tegretol CR (Extended Release) unless I didn't take it! I had auras sometimes, but didn't know what they were then.

I saw a specialist and had more check-ups than usual, plus the 'High Risk' label and Folic Acid supplements. The specialist suggested a natural birth with suction; pushing was not recomendeded. At first it sounded ok; later I figured the stress and fear on the day might well cause a seizure, so I opted for a C-Section with epidural pain relief instead.

The procedure went smoothly and baby was fine. The recovery takes a little longer and you can't drive for a few weeks, but you soon forget those limitations once they pass. Gladly able to breastfeed for 2 years or so and no problems for my son from my meds.

Then I switched off Tegretol, as it prevented my recall of language, and words, which I love!

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Do you mind if I ask what medication you take now, after going off of Tegretol? Also, did you take tegretol through your whole pregnancy / breastfeeding and if so, did you notice any effects on your son?
I am currently on Carbatrol but looking at switching to Keppra to get pregnant. Trying to get as much personal information as possible on this subject.

Thank you so much,
Sary
www.gofundme.com/SaryvsEpilepsy

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Hi there, thanks for your question. Sorry this is way too much information, but I hope if I put it all out there, you'll take out of it what you need, I'm pointing out the different reactions I had to different drugs - might be different for you. The ***** comments relate to babies. All the best with it : )
BeeJay

MEDS IN ORDER -

TEGRETOL CR (aka CARBAMAZEPINE)
11 years on this - My first epilepsy drug; was good at controlling seizures. Initially too high a dose - I felt dizzy, stumbled around quite 'out of it', which was gross. But the lower dose was fine, I felt normal. It managed seizures ok, unless pills were missed. I did have auras that were quite strong. (Didn't know that these were mini-seizures.)

Side-Effects: Not quite fully normal cognitively; hated the mind fog, and poor recall of words. (The tip of the tongue thing - but words would NEVER come to mind later, whereas they used to.)
Auras on this drug were physically/ mentally unpleasant and uncomfortable. It felt like a wave of something crawling under my skin and loud sounds in my ears. I probably should have had a little higher dose to stop the auras, but since I didn't know they were mini-seizures, I did nothing. Later the dose was raised when my specialist explained. I was cautious though.

************************************ Had my baby while on this drug and they didn't seem too concerned, on a fairly low dose. They may have increased it slightly, since my body was coping with growing the baby, but I can't remember now. For me it had no problems at all. Someone else posted online they had also been on it and had no problem with their baby, pregnancy, etc. My son was fine and very healthy, it didn't affect breast-feeding or anything. Would highly recommend it if you can take it. The only caution was to not trigger stress or a seizure at time of birth, but that depends on what is the cause/ trigger of your seizures. The C-section was fine for me.

LAMOTRIGINE (aka LAMICITAL)
on 1 year - Switched to see if could improve memory and brain-fog. It did improve word-recall, but still some memory problems. (Did not know if it was meds OR damage from seizures by then.) The auras were far more pleasant on this drug, slightly dream like, not as physically irritating.

Side-Effect: The problem for me was the auras increased a lot. Too high a dose probably affected my memory, so after showing my specialist the Aura record, was switched to Keppra. (Sadly, after ending the drug, found out the pharmacist gave me a generic brand, on which, auras worsened. Wish I'd realised it earlier.)

- Recently read this drug can lift the mood of depressed people. I felt fairly okay emotionally, coped with life.

KEPPRA (aka LEVETIRACETAM)
2+ years -
This seemed okay initially, during the first few months I had bad depression, so was put on CITALOPRAM. It didn't seem to help. If anything life was more AWFUL.

I thought feeling low, was about job and personal stress. Life continued becoming MORE flat, depressing, pointless, I lost interest in life and relationships; was angry, tired, unmotivated, couldn't cope with parenting, decisions or even preparing meals, it was all too much. It was very out of character. I slept a lot!

I left the job but it didn't improve. I didn't know I had PMS. I rarely exercised then either, I ate too many sweets. After a year, I went off the anti-depressant (Citalopram), thinking that was the whole problem. Withdrawal was revolting, worse than normal depression. My tiredness improved a bit, but I was still 'flat', bored with life, excited by nothing, sick of the drudgery, had no interest in people. I began exercising by walking more which helped somewhat.

Side-Effects: Shortly after starting, I noticed I would bite my tongue during sleep/ dozing. (Never happened before.) On this drug memory and word recall were ok. The auras were well-controlled, but physically they felt unpleasant and irritating. Still I just couldn't handle the lack of caring, that a heavy cloud was over me. (Some personal issues that got resolved improved my mood a little.) I tried to remain on as low a dose as possible, without any auras.

I learnt through Online Forums that other people felt flat and demotivated on this drug. I pinpointed the beginning of this lethargy matched the time I'd begun this drug. I worried about my mental state.

(Tip: Breathing - make sure your breathing isn't causing more auras. When you breathe into your lungs, instead of your diaphragm, it causes light-headedness or hyperventilation, and starves your brain and body of oxygen. I do believe it contributed to my auras. So retrain to breathe properly if you're not. My auras improved.)

*******************************I would be very wary of taking Keppra myself during pregnancy, because of the potential effect on mood and mental health.

LAMOTRIGINE/ KEPPRA - current (Mar 2013)
- 4 months +
Because of the 'flat feeling', specialist agreed to go back to LAMOTRIGINE. As I increased the Lamotrigine, memory problems resurfaced. I kept missing letters out of words, or typing a different word than I meant to. The same on paper, sometimes missing a whole word. (NOT normal prior to this med.)

Because of the memory I didn't go fully onto Lamotrigine yet, I've stayed on both - Keppra 750gm + Lamotrigine 50gms(morning and night). It seems to strike a reasonable balance between the two. My auras are much less, tend to be shorter and more euphoric, pleasant, seldom are they physically uncomfortable.

Side-Effect: my recall is slightly worse regarding events coming up that I need to attend, bills to pay, jobs to do on a certain date. Was mildly there before, but now is irretrievable. (Using Calendars, notes, reminders to prompt me, otherwise I will not remember it at all. I let people know my short-term memory may be affected by medication, as I can forget conversations more easily.)

When changing to this new regime I began taking a Multivitamin, Magnesium, Vit B complex and Fish Oil supplements. This boosted my mind and energy. Mentally I feel better, more motivated to be active and able to cope.

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

HI

I'm not sure when the original post was written, but I'm going to share my story because at some point it may help someone and I'm new to this site.  

I am a juvenile epileptic - 41 now, diagnosed at age 9. I had my son in 1999 (now 13 years old). Let me tell you, it was scary before, during, and after, but I made it through. I have a wonderful kid: healthy, happy, and well-adjusted. That being said, I took a lot of responsibility on myself before I made the decision to get pregnant and as my pregnancy advanced. I researched constantly. I spoke at length with Mother Risk in Ontario. They were an unbelievable source of information for me before and during my pregnancy. I asked to be referred to a gynecologist/baby doctor, as opposed to working with my GP (who understood my decision) in conjunction with my neurologist. That's what Mother Risk recommended and I totally agreed. I was able to get extra care, extra ultrasounds. I made informed decisions and wasn't bullied into anything I didn't feel was in my best interest. I lived in a city that had a medical program - meaning where people earned their medical license. Thus, there was lots of research being done through the university and the hospital. I volunteered from the start that if in some way I could be involved with the university in this capacity, that I would like to. I knew this would give me additional care. IT did. I was followed up with constantly. It was a help to them and to me. I got to know the interns quite well, along with the doctors, and ultrasound techs. I was really healthy.

It's like anything else in this world, you have to be your own advocate. Constantly research. The internet is loaded with valuable information (so long as you are using credible sites). When I had my son, there was not nearly as much information online as there is now, so I had to do alot of it on my own via doctors offices, hospitals, books, library, etc. My husband was amazing and just let me take control and did whatever I needed.

 Now here is the most valuable piece of advice to you. What I didn't do, was focus enough on how having a baby would impact my epilepsy after I had him. I had an overabundance of emotions. No seizures. But side effects. I didn't work enough with the community, I didn't ask for enough help. I would strongly recommend that you set up support networks for yourself. Take advantage of EVERYTHING your community has to offer. If you aren't sure of what that is and neither is your doctor, start researching. I know here (now I live in a rural community), there are general (not set up for epileptic moms, just everyone) clinics, mother baby activities, health nurses, phone numbers you can call for support, etc. Use ALL of it! It's your baby. Sleep EVERY moment that you can and tell your family and friends that you are going to use them as much as they are willing to let you, until you adjust. Don't get them to pay lip service and say "yes we will help", nail them down on how/when etc. before your new life begins.

I hope this helps. I know how you feel and where you've been. I don't know or remember my life without my condition and there are always scary moments, but use resources. I think by just writing here, it's creating a new resource! Cheers.

Re: Epilepsy, pregnancy and giving birth

Thank you quietmember! I am new to the forums here, but have been working through figuring out my epilepsy for the past 8 years. I am pregnant with my first (and all is going very well!), but I have had 4 seizures during my pregnancy and every day I am afraid of another one.

Your advice is very helpful to a mom-to-be, and something I will certainly keep in mind. I have been hesitant to delve into too much research because, in all honesty, it scares me. But I know that if I want what is best both for myself and for my child, it is what I SHOULD be doing so that we can both live healthy lives.

Thanks again!