We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Women's campaigns

An ongoing series of campaigns to raise awareness of the particular issues facing women with epilepsy.

HealthE mum-to-be 2013

Fortunately, the majority of women with epilepsy have healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies. But having epilepsy poses a risk to the health of both the mother and her baby, during pregnancy. This includes the increased risk of malformations in an unborn baby when taking anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). It also includes an increased risk of uncontrolled seizures, in mums-to-be who abandon their medication (without their doctor’s support) in pregnancy. Uncontrolled seizures increase the risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Every year, around four women with epilepsy die during pregnancy. Epilepsy Action’s HealthE mum-to-be campaign is driven towards achieving a happy and healthy future for mums and their babies.

Epilepsy Action wants to support all mums-to-be with epilepsy to be empowered to make important decisions about their care and treatment during pregnancy. To do this, Epilepsy Action has updated the ‘Pregnancy diaries’ online and created a magazine style version too. In the Pregnancy Diaries mums with epilepsy have shared their personal experiences of pre-conception counselling, pregnancy and parenting. They hope that their experiences and tips will support other mums, parents and parents-to-be. You can become part of the ‘Pregnancy diaries’ by sharing your experience as a mum, dad or partner. What you write could really support other people with epilepsy who are going through a similar thing.

The campaign will also support health professionals to provide better care to women with epilepsy before, during and after pregnancy. A group of epilepsy specialists midwives and nurses have updated guidance for midwives and obstetricians about epilepsy in pregnancy. This Epilepsy in pregnancy obstetrics resource pack is an excellent tool to help health professionals give the best advice and care to women with epilepsy.

It is important for women with epilepsy to plan their pregnancies as simple measures can decrease the risks associated with pregnancy and epilepsy. Under no circumstances, however, should women stop taking anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) without consulting their GP or health professional. Women need to work in partnership with healthcare professionals so that they are able to make informed choices regarding their epilepsy and its management. The aim is to achieve good seizure control during and after pregnancy.

Nicole Crosby-Mckenna, Epilepsy Action's campaigns and policy officer for women said: "At this important time in a woman's life, it's vital for her to feel well-informed and in control. We think the ‘Pregnancy diaries’ will prove an invaluable support network for women with epilepsy, who may be having a hard time deciding what's best for them and their unborn baby."

  • Updated January 2013
    To be reviewed December 2014

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