Family Planning


Doctor showing family planning options for person with epilepsy

Everyone's pregnancy is unique, and research shows that people with epilepsy can have healthy pregnancies and babies. Open and honest communication with healthcare providers is crucial throughout the process. It’s also important to take time and discuss family planning with your significant other and healthcare team before you start a family.

You may ask yourself questions like, “How many children do I want to have?”, “When do I want to start having children?”, and “Am I interested in having children?” Making a plan before you begin your journey is essential for your safety and happiness and will help you best manage your seizures no matter what you decide.

Yes. Thinking ahead can provide safe and healthy pregnancies for people with epilepsy. If you want to have a baby, planning is essential. Ideally, you should begin to plan your pregnancy as much as 12 months before trying to get pregnant.

Taking folic acid on a regular basis can help people with epilepsy. It also promotes healthy babies during pregnancy. Neural tube issues are a common risk factor when folic acid levels are low. Ensuring a regular diet or supplement of folic acid near the time of conception helps lower the risk of neural tube issues. Healthy neural tubes are vital for a developing baby’s brain and spine. Neural tubes even support the behavioral development of your baby.

Anyone with epilepsy that can have a baby should consider taking 1,000 mcg of folic acid daily as approximately half of pregnancies are unplanned. You can get folic acid as a prescription or over the counter. This amount should be taken before pregnancy, while you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or before having another baby.

Sometimes, there are cases in which a person may need to take a higher dose of folic acid. Please note that if you had a child born with neural tube defects (spina bifida or anencephaly) or other complications, your care team may ask you to take more folic acid to help prevent complications.

Most people are told to start taking a prenatal vitamin three months before trying to get pregnant. This amount is continued throughout pregnancy. This will give you an additional 800-1,000 mcg of folic acid daily, in addition to the folic acid you’re already taking.

Additional Information and Resources

*The Epilepsy & Pregnancy Medical Consortium, an expert panel of leading epileptologists and OB-GYN researchers and practitioners, summarize recent research to inform people with epilepsy who are considering pregnancy, are pregnant, or are postpartum.

Authored By:

Naymee J Velez Ruiz, MD FAES

on Thursday, November 30, 2023


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