Pregnant women and new mothers with epilepsy have lower self-esteem and are less satisfied with life than pregnant women and mothers without the condition, according to a new study.*
A team from the University of Bergen analysed data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, of over 112,000 women with and without epilepsy from the general population. Investigation took place at pregnancy, weeks 15–19, and 6 and 18 months postpartum. Women with epilepsy were compared with a reference group without epilepsy. The analysis, published in the journal Epilepsy and Behavior, found that 0.6-0.7% of the women had epilepsy at all three assessment points.
Compared with those without epilepsy, these women had lower life satisfaction and self-esteem both during and after pregnancy. They also reported lower satisfaction in their relationships, higher levels of work strain during pregnancy, worse general wellbeing and less belief in their own abilities 18 months after the birth of their baby.
The authors found that divorce and separation were more common in mothers with epilepsy and that fewer women with epilepsy had a paid job 18 months after giving birth.
In the paper, they call for mothers with epilepsy and their partners to be examined for emotional complaints and partnership satisfaction during and after pregnancy. “Women with epilepsy reported lower life satisfaction and self-esteem both during and after pregnancy compared with the references. Single parenting correlated negatively with life satisfaction in epilepsy during the whole study period. Epilepsy was associated with lower levels of relationship satisfaction and higher levels of work strain during pregnancy and lower levels of self-efficacy and satisfactory somatic health 18 months postpartum,” the study concludes.
“Reduced life satisfaction associated with epilepsy during and after pregnancy showed that, even in a highly developed welfare society, women with epilepsy struggle. Mothers with epilepsy and their partners should be examined for emotional complaints and partnership satisfaction during and after pregnancy.”