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breastfeeding and epilepsy

Information for women with epilepsy about breastfeeding including concerns about passing medication to the baby.

The Department of Health recommends that every woman is encouraged to breastfeed her baby if at all possible. Breastmilk usually provides all the nutrients a baby needs for the first six months of their life.

AEDs and breastfeeding

If you take anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), your baby will have become used to the drugs while in your womb. If you decide to breastfeed, then a small amount will be passed to your baby in your breastmilk. Breastfeeding can be a useful way of weaning your baby off the medication that they have become used to.

Some drugs, such as phenobarbital and primidone, can pass more easily into breastmilk and can make a baby sleepy, so it may be a good idea to alternate between formula milk and breastfeeds. See table of anti-epileptic drugs used in adults.

The patient information leaflet that comes with your AED often includes information about breastfeeding and that particular drug. You can also talk to your neurologist, midwife, or health visitor about any concerns you may have.

The Breastfeeding Network (opens new window) has a helpline run by pharmacists on a voluntary basis. You may have to leave a message so that they can call you back.

Sharing feeds

If you are more likely to have seizures when you are overtired, sharing night time feeds with a partner might help to increase the chance of a good night’s sleep. 

What’s next?

See parenting and epilepsy for ideas about keeping you and baby safe if you have seizures.

Taken from our Pregnancy and parenting leaflet. Order this leaflet from our online shop as part of our 'first five free' offer.

 

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