Myths About Epilepsy and Pregnancy

If you have epilepsy and are thinking about getting pregnant, you probably have some important questions. Here are some commonly held beliefs and realities about epilepsy and pregnancy:

1. Myth: If I have epilepsy, my baby will have it, too.

Fact: Some types of epilepsy are inherited and do tend to run in families. There is a higher risk of having a child with epilepsy if:
    • one or both parents has epilepsy
    • one or both parents has generalized epilepsy
    • parents' seizures started early in life

If a woman with epilepsy is planning about having a baby, she should consult with her family doctor and the epilepsy care team first. They can provide vital information on measures and precautions to take to ensure a healthy pregnancy and infant. Come for a personal consultation where our best Ayurvedic doctors will find a solution to your potential health problems, paying special attention to your epilepsy.

2. Myth: If you have epilepsy, it is not safe to become pregnant. It leads to more seizures.

Fact: There are concerns, but they are typically manageable.

Only about a third of women's epilepsy worsens during pregnancy. During pregnancy, some women experience an increase in seizures. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including:

    • During pregnancy, your body undergoes several physiological, hormonal, and psychological changes. All of these factors can increase your chances of having a seizure.
    • Pregnancy-related physiological changes can modify how your body responds to epilepsy treatment, making it less effective.
    • During pregnancy, nausea and vomiting are typical. You may vomit your epilepsy medication before it has been absorbed by your body.
    • Weight increase happens during pregnancy as well, and weight is frequently a determinant in medicine dosage. If your weight fluctuates dramatically, you may need to adjust your dosage.
    • Pregnancy might generate emotional stress or disrupt your sleeping patterns, and both excessive stress and insufficient sleep are seizure triggers.

3. Myth: If I have a seizure while pregnant, I’ll miscarry.

Fact: Not necessarily.

Ideally, you should have complete seizure control before you become pregnant. Failing this, your seizures should be as well controlled as possible.

Controlling your seizures will become much more critical after you become pregnant. Seizures during pregnancy might be harmful to your baby's health. Uncontrolled seizures during pregnancy, particularly tonic-clonic seizures and status epilepticus, can be extremely dangerous to both you and your baby. Tonic-clonic seizures limit the oxygen supply to the mother and fetus and might result in damage or miscarriage.

Because of the potential consequences, having a seizure while pregnant might be frightening. However, the majority of pregnant women who suffer seizures have healthy kids. Consult your doctor if you are having more seizures. During your pregnancy, your medication dose may need to be modified from time to time.

4. Myth: I won’t be able to breastfeed.

Fact: It’s actually recommended by major organizations that you do breastfeed after you give birth.

You could still be able to breastfeed, but you'll have to be extra cautious and keep an eye on your kid for signs of tiredness, attentiveness, not gaining weight, or other developmental issues.

Another prevalent misconception is that anti-epileptic drugs are passed on to the kid during breastfeeding, hence breastfeeding is discouraged by uninformed family members.

Most anti-epileptic medicines enter into breast milk, but at such low concentrations that they are unlikely to harm your infant. The medicine can be taken safely after breastfeeding, and a two-hour interval between the dose and nursing is sufficient protection.

At the Neeraj Epilepsy Clinic, we can provide individualized treatment for expectant mothers, from conception of pregnancy to the postpartum period. Our ayurvedic doctors can confirm which medications you are taking is safe while you are breastfeeding.

5 Myth: I will have to have a C-section.

Fact: Epilepsy has no effect on your delivery technique in general. If you experience frequent seizures while in labor, your doctor may decide to perform a C-section.

But what happens if you do have a seizure during labor?

Because there is a slight (1% to 2%) chance of seizures during labor, a woman with epilepsy should always have her baby in a hospital. The hospital team can address seizures that occur during labor.

Many epileptic women are concerned that they will have a seizure during labor. This is a reasonable concern. To stop the seizure, your doctor may administer IV medicine. If that fails, you may need to have a caesarean section. Although the majority of women with epilepsy have vaginal deliveries, they do have a greater risk of C-sections than regular women. Anticonvulsant medications might sometimes impair the capacity of your uterine muscles to contract. If this occurs, your labor may not advance as quickly as expected, and a C-section may be your best option.

6 Myth: I can’t take epilepsy medication during pregnancy.

You can also take antiepileptic drugs during pregnancy, but it is very important to keep several aspects in mind. Some epilepsy drugs are less often recommended for pregnant women because they can cause developmental problems or birth defects.

In the general population there is a 2%-3% chance that a child will have a birth defect. In women with epilepsy, this risk goes up to 4%-8%. This usually happen very early in the pregnancy, even before a woman knows they are pregnant.

Some of the most common drugs for controlling seizures may be associated with a higher risk of having a child with birth defects, because they reduce concentrations of certain forms of folate in the blood. Your doctor may recommend that you take 4 mg per day of folic acid supplements before trying to get pregnant and throughout the first trimester of pregnancy.

Certain medicines may raise the risk of:

    • a facial abnormality known as cleft lip and palate
    • ventricular septal defect, a heart condition
    • neural tube defects, which are anomalies in the development of the central nervous system
   • mild facial and finger anomalies

It is important to keep these risks in perspective and discuss them with your doctor.

Medications associated with the greatest risks include:

    • Valproic acid (Depakote)
    • Topiramate (Topamax)

Even if you are taking one of these medications, at Neeraj Epilepsy Clinic doctors will likely recommend switching to an alternative, ayurvedic medicines, rather than stopping medication entirely.

If you are making any changes in your antiseizure medications at all, you should do that at least a year before getting pregnant. Switching medications has risks, too. You may not respond well to the new drug and have breakthrough seizures, which could be harmful to a pregnancy. When changing medications, doctors will usually add the new medicine before stopping the old one. If you become pregnant during this time, the baby could be exposed to both drugs instead of just one.

Because of these potential hazards, the American Academy of Neurology recommends:

   • Pregnant women with epilepsy be treated with one medicine only, at the lowest feasible dose, wherever possible.
   • Never discontinue anti-epileptic medication without first consulting your doctor. Stopping your medicine may result in more frequent seizures or status epilepticus, which can be harmful to your unborn baby.
   • Your metabolism changes as your pregnancy continues, resulting in decreasing levels of antiseizure medicine in your body. This means that your body's antiseizure drugs will be more diluted. That is why, during your pregnancy, your doctor should monitor the levels of medication in your blood and may increase the dosage if they get too low.

If you have taken antiepileptic drugs during your pregnancy:

    • Once born, your baby should be thoroughly examined and monitored for withdrawal symptoms.
    • A small number of babies have sedation or feeding difficulties after birth, probably as a result of exposure to anti-epileptic medicines. These problems usually wear off within a few days.

It's important to be aware that most of the risk seems to be related to anti-epileptic medicines. But it's also important to keep in mind that the vast majority of women with epilepsy get through pregnancy just fine. Your chances of having a healthy child are excellent, especially if you talk with your doctor early and often, follow the advice you are given, and take good care of yourself.

Your doctor should be asked about:

• contraception options
• planned pregnancies
• optimizing epilepsy medications before, during, and in the post-partum phase
• pre-conceptional folic acid supplementation
• teratogenic risks associated with epilepsy medications
• the possibility of using ayurvedic herbs
• risk of seizures during pregnancy
• recommendations regarding breastfeeding practices.

How can ayurveda help overcome pregnancy complications?

Throughout your pregnancy, Ayurveda may give holistic care. Please schedule an appointment with one of our specialty doctors for professional and personalized health advice. Medication should be avoided as much as possible throughout the first three months of pregnancy, and even later. Neeraj Epilepsy Clinic’s experienced doctors can suggest the right herbal preparations and home remedies which are safe and effective for ante-natal and post-natal care for woman with epilepsy.

Ayurveda describes nine conditions that can accompany pregnancy – called garbhopadravas: nausea, anorexia, vomiting, dryness of mouth, fever, oedema, anaemia, diarrhoea and fluid retention.

The best way to deal with difficulties is to resolve unbalanced situations before pregnancy. Pregnancy stimulates all three doshas: vata with change and expansion, pitta with increased metabolism and heat, and kapha with increasing body bulk. These changes affect the woman's constitution as well as the baby's constitution and environmental factors. The simplest approach to health is prevention.

Now lets see ayurvedic recommendations which focus on diet, behaviour, activities, herbs and therapies, while following the stages of pregnancy:

In the first trimester women’s body may not be showing but a lot is happening internally. During your pregnancy, you will notice an increase in the attributes of all three doshas. Vata is the dosha of movement, and pregnancy represents this trait in many ways. Your body is changing quickly to make place for the life that is developing inside you. Because Vata dosha controls the neurological system's energy, it requires special attention during pregnancy. A diet rich in fresh, plant-based meals, whole or sprouted grains, and non-processed foods is ideal for balancing vata. Warm, freshly cooked dishes with healthy olive, ghee, and coconut oils are ideal. Sweet, sour, and salty are the three tastes that balance vata. Stress management is critical at this time. The idea is to take it slowly. There are simple actions you may take in your diet, exercise, and spiritual practice to alleviate these symptoms.

Keep in mind that you are feeding two bodies and two body kinds. The most crucial piece of advise is to eat whenever you want and to consume enough amounts of protein, healthy carbohydrates, and vegetables.

It is just as important to eat how you eat as it is to consume what you eat. After her lunch, the mother should feel light, cheerful, and pleased. She should not be uncomfortable, experience gas or pain, or be drowsy. It is advisable to have the major meal about noon, wait at least 3 hours between meals, and eat while sitting down. She should also taste the food, prevent distractions, and avoid overeating.

Ayurvedic practitioners hold a variety of views on what foods should be taken for optimal health. High-quality milk, butter, ghee (clarified butter), buttermilk, and yogurt will provide you with the ojas you require during this period. The sweet taste should be emphasized throughout pregnancy because it is the most satvic or nutritious for the baby. Warm, buttery, spiced milk will flow straight to your reproductive system and help your body prepare to provide milk for the baby.

Tips for morning sickness that often occur in the first trimester:

• Roast cardamom seeds, powder them and eat small pinches through the day.
• Sip tea made of 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder and/or fennel seeds and hot water.

Avoid a lot of travel and rigorous cardio. Walking and pregnant yoga are examples of gentle exercises that will keep you active while keeping you centered. Grounding poses such as mountain pose, warrior pose, and downward dog should be practiced. Holding these provides a sense of security.

Strong emotions are natural and acceptable throughout the second trimester. You can, in fact, honor them. The baby's heart has formed by the end of the third month. You have two hearts beating at the same time. If you already have heartburn or indigestion, try to avoid fried, spicy, and very acidic foods. Continue to drink the ojas-enriched, high-quality milk.

A study of 335 women was undertaken by the Gunasheela Surgical and Maternity Hospital in Bangalore, India. Approximately half of the participants performed one hour of yoga per day, which included postures, breathing, and meditation. The other half walked 30 minutes twice a day for 30 days. They began the trial with women between the ages of 18 and 20 weeks pregnant. The study's findings revealed that yoga is safe. It also enhances birth weight and lowers the risk of premature labor.

Although the baby is too big for you to move fast in the third trimester, you can still add modest movement into your routine to avoid feeling stuck. Now is the time to take it easy. Continue to add light activity into your regimen while you slow down and prioritize relaxation. To ease back and neck strain, begin to incorporate more heart-opening poses into your yoga asana practice. Gentle walks are also beneficial in keeping you strong without causing extra strain on your muscles. Your digestive tract may be unpleasant since you've been expanding and making place for your kid for 7-8 months. Continue to drink your spiced, buttery milk to maintain your health and vitality.

Postpartum recovery

A woman's body and lifestyle change throughout pregnancy, which Ayurvedic therapy can help with during postpartum. This is a time of healing that necessitates the utmost gentleness. If you have any worries, such as:

    • feeling that your mood is too low to care for yourself or the baby,
    • having any feelings or thoughts that worry you,
it is essential that you contact your doctor.

Also, as a new mother, you may be anxious about your and your baby's safety if you suffer a seizure. However, the danger is likely to be low if you take reasonable precautions and other caregivers are aware of what to do in the event of a seizure. It is important to note that the risk of seizures may increase after birth due to changes in hormone levels, stress, and sleep deprivation. Always keep in touch with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Don’t forget to rest
Remember to prioritize rest whether you're at the beginning or conclusion of your pregnancy. This is a period of emotional, physical, and spiritual expansion for your body. Even when the symptoms are unpleasant, it is a very lovely process. This is the moment to pay close attention to all of your body's needs.

Each woman's pregnancy experience is unique. Remember to always visit a doctor for your health needs if you are pregnant. More than 90% of women with epilepsy have normal, uneventful pregnancies and have healthy babies when they receive good care.

How can herbs help us during our pregnancy?

Using herbs during pregnancy is a personal choice, but in order to secure the best outcome for you and your baby, you need be fully educated about the many types of herbs and how they can be used.
Never self-medicate or self-diagnose with any drugs, including plants. Because each pregnancy is unique, it is advisable to use herbs under the supervision of a physician, naturopathic, or homeopathic practitioner.

Common herbs used in pregnancy according the american pregnancy association

    • Red Raspberry Leaf – This iron-rich herb has been shown to tone the uterus, boost milk production, reduce nausea, and relieve childbirth pains. Some studies have even found that taking red raspberry leaf during pregnancy can lessen problems and the need for delivery interventions. Pregnancy teas derived from red raspberry leaf may be available to enhance uterine health during pregnancy. Because there is some debate over whether this should be used throughout pregnancy or only in the second and third trimesters, many health care practitioners remain cautious and only recommend using it after the first trimester.
    • Peppermint Leaf – Helpful in relieving nausea/morning sickness and flatulence
    • Ginger root – Helps relieve nausea and vomiting
    • Slippery Elm Bark – (when the inner bark is used orally in amounts used in foods) Used to help relieve nausea, heartburn, and vaginal irritations
    • Oats & Oat Straw – Rich in calcium and magnesium; helps relieve anxiety, restlessness, and irritated skin
    • Blond Psyllium – when used orally and appropriately
    • Black Psyllium – when used orally with appropriate fluid intake
    • Garlic – when used orally in amounts commonly found in foods
    • Capsicum (Cayenne, hot pepper) – when used topically and appropriately
    • Dandelion – Rich in Vitamin A, calcium, and iron; dandelion root and leaf can also help relieve mild edema and nourish the liver
    • Chamomile (German) – High in calcium and magnesium; also helps with sleeplessness and inflammation of joints
    • Nettles (Stinging Nettles) – High in vitamins A, C, K, calcium, potassium, and iron. Used in many pregnancy teas because it is a great all-around pregnancy tonic.
Note on the safety of nettles: The Natural Medicines Database rates nettles as Likely Unsafe, despite the fact that it is used in numerous pregnancy teas and is recommended by the majority of midwives and herbalists. This may depend on whether the root or the leaves of the Nettles plant are utilized and how much is used.

    • Aloe
    • Ginseng (American & Korean)
    • Evening Primrose
    • Feverfew
    • Kava Kava
    • Senna

The Natural Medicines Database considers these hems to be safe. This indicates that there have been scientific evaluations, clinical trials, and human investigations that have revealed no negative effects.
However, if you consume safe herbs in big quantities, it could be harmful to your pregnancy. Some herbs, such as garlic, rosemary, sage, ginger, and turmeric, may be contraindicated in pregnancy when used in excessive or concentrated dosages, but are deemed safe when used in proportions present in food.

Is it safe to take ashwagandha and Brahmi during pregnancy?

Ashwagandha, commonly known as Withania somnifera, Indian ginseng, or winter cherry, is one of the oldest known adaptogens. An adaptogen is a type of herb or plant that helps our bodies cope with stress. It supports the adrenal system and helps to maintain hormonal equilibrium. This plant has been used for generations by Ayurvedic practitioners in India, however it cannot be stated to be safe to eat during pregnancy.
Pregnant women in India commonly use Ashwagandha to boost their energy and keep their growing baby on track. But be careful to not use more than 1/2 to 1 tsp. of the powder daily during pregnancy because it can induce abortion. Because this herb may interact with a number of drugs, it is best to consult your doctor before using it.
Brahmi , also known as ‘Bacopa monnieri’ or many people know it as water hyssop or herb of grace. For thousands of years, the leaves of the herb have been used to treat epilepsy. because of the influence it has on brain pathways, this is the case. it is quite effective in preventing epileptic seizures. during pregnancy, brahmi can be eaten for a brief duration of 2-4 weeks. it's also safe to take if you're breastfeeding.

Although herbs are natural, not all of them are safe to use while pregnant. before using any natural medication or herb during pregnancy, it is best to talk with your health care physician or someone educated in herb use. at the neeraj epilepsy clinic, we provide the best ayurvedic care for epileptic women in the globe. we have hundreds of successful pregnancy plans under our hands.

the following herbs are considered unsafe during pregnancy, when used orally

• Saw palmetto – has hormonal activity
• Goldenseal – when used orally, may cross the placenta
• Dong quai – due to uterine stimulant and relaxant effects
• Ephedra
• Yohimbe
• Pay d’ arco – in large doses; contraindicated
• Passion flower
• Black cohosh – in pregnant women who are not at term
• Blue cohosh – uterine stimulant and can induce labor
• Roman chamomile – in medicinal amounts
• Pennyroyal
Aromatherapy is another way to use plants. mitti attar (baked earth) is a vata-calming oil that is applied to a pregnant woman's tummy when the baby is very active.
mandarin, tangerine, grapefruit, roman cahmomile, geranium, rose maroc, rose bulgar, ylang ylang, lavendar, and jasmine are among the essential oils that are considered safe to use during pregnancy.
basil, cinnamon, clove, peppermint, and thyme are among the oils that should not be used during pregnancy.

It is advisable if you conduct additional research and consult with your doctor before using any herbs.

Finally, Here's What You Can Do to Have a Healthy Pregnancy

During pregnancy, every woman should take additional care of herself and her health. And if you have epilepsy, it's even more critical that you don't skip it.
    • If you have epilepsy and want to get pregnant, it’s important to start your journey with a plan.
    • To reduce the chance of birth abnormalities, take prenatal vitamins and folic acid. These vitamins should be used prior to pregnancy and during the pregnancy.
    • Do not stop, start, or change the dose of any medicine without first consulting your doctor.
    • Make an additional effort to sleep more.
    • Women with epilepsy should maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, and abstaining from smoking and alcohol while pregnant.

Things to Avoid

    • Eating too much or fasting.
    • Food that is dry, stale, fermented, heavy, heated, or strong, alcohol, and meat.
    • Getting enough sleep during the day and staying up late at night.
    • Witnessing or hearing events that elicit feelings of grief, indignation, horror, or anguish.
    • Long-distance travel in an aircraft or vehicle, or on bad roads.
    • Sitting for an extended period of time, sitting in awkward positions, or sitting on hard surfaces
    • Moving heavy objects or lifting objects from a position that puts strain on your back and abdomen
    • Unless there is an emergency, do not suppress normal needs (such as sleep, hunger, yawning, crying, elimination, and so on).

By integrating Ayurvedic practices into your pregnancy path, you will reconnect with yourself and your needs while also nurturing the new life you are carrying into the world. At the Neeraj Epilepsy Clinic, we can provide individualized treatment for expectant mothers, from conception of pregnancy to the postpartum period. Come to us for a consultation where you can meet some of India’s most prominent Ayurvedic doctors.

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