Any woman with epilepsy who has ever given birth knows that the fourth trimester can be more challenging than the first three. Your primary care physician, neurologist and ObGyn have all guided you and prepared you for the challenges throughout the first three trimesters — as much as they could — depending on the research they had available at the time you were pregnant. (I know some of you are shaking your heads at this) But when it came time to leave the hospital, you were left to your own devices to deal with sleepless nights, hormone fluxuations, medication adjustments, a new addition to the family, possibly post partum depression and much more.
Back to work
If you are anything like me, and your seizures were fairly well controlled, your epilepsy was the last thing on your mind. So when I went back to work, 4 months after delivering, my body including my brain was not ready. My commute was an hour and a half each way. My newborn was not sleeping through the night. I had postpartum depression and an undiagnosed slipped disk from the delivery. Needless to say it didn’t take long for me to end up flat on my back in a puddle of my own making in the conference room at work after a pretty severe grand mal seizure.
A different approach
If I had it to do all over again, I would have recruited more help. I would have taken more time. I would have enlisted the support of a doula. I would have stayed with family longer. I would have talked to a therapist earlier. I would have spoken up about my pain earlier. So learn from my mistakes. Below I have included a few things you can do for yourself or the ones you love who may be entering the fourth trimester.
1. Be Prepared
There is a coalition of organizations that have dedicated resources to this issue. You are not alone and you do not need to struggle. Mind the Gap is a National Initiative led by Postpartum Support International and a broad-based stakeholder coalition comprised of leading experts from national professional and advocacy organizations. You are encouraged to learn more about the Mind the Gap Coalition.Get the PostPartum Toolkit
2. Make meals easier
There are a few ways you can do this. Whether it be through food box subscriptions or grocery delivery service
Hello Fresh – Easy to Use and Good Variety
Our family has used a few different ones and We’ve been happiest with Hello Fresh. It seems to be the simplest to prepare and have a good variety of recipes to choose from. Also the price point is fairly comparable.
If you know of a family who just had a baby this is a great gift. It limits the trips to the supermarket. Though with a baby its impossible to eliminate them completely.For yourself or a Gift
Hungry Root – Good for Vegan and Vegetarian Options
We considered this service when I thought about going vegetarian for a while. There was a little bit of a rebellion in our house at the thought of no more sausage and hamburgers though. I do still insist on at least one or two nights of vegetarian dinners though my family is never happy with them. If your household is vegan or vegetarian I can say the products used by Hungry Root are high quality and delicious (to me at least). My family might disagree.For yourself or a Gift
Misfits Market – No Subscription Fee
This is definitely a way to save time and a few bucks. The produce is not going to be as pretty but with all the diapers you are going to be buying, you won’t mind. And it might be nice to have one less trip to the supermarket. Most importantly in addition to no subscription fee the prices are less than the supermarket!For Yourself or a Gift
3. Sleep when baby sleeps
Sometimes that is at night but more likely that’s in the middle of the day. So set yourself up for success. Consider adding a few things to your life that will ensure that you and baby get a few decent hours of rest so you can avoid the unnecessary and unexpected seizure.
Alfani Pajama Set – Great for Nursing
Having a comfy reliable set of pjs that you can easily nurse in (if that’s your plan) means you have options. You can throw on a sweater, put baby in the stroller, go out for a short walk and come back and flop into bed for a short nap all while wearing these pjs.
No one’s gonna know. You think there gonna know. But there never gonna know.For yourself or a Gift
Hatch Rest 2nd Gen – Add some white noise
According to HappiestBaby.com, white noise works miracles with fussy babies and is an amazingly powerful cue for falling asleep…and sleeping longer. What I wouldn’t have given for this info when my daughter was a newborn (and 1, and 2, ugh).
Apparently, even the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that white noise can be helpful at improving sleep.For yourself or a Gift
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Whether or not you are nursing, your body has gone through a major overhaul. And hormone changes major enough to create a life are no joke. In fact, our body is 60% water and our brain specifically is approximately 80% water. So if you want to avoid those seizures keep drinking your water. Personally I need constant reminders for this so here are a few things to help.
Hydroflask in Lupine
Try a Hydroflask in Lupine since purple is the color for epilepsy. It stays cold for 24 hours and can go right in the dishwasher. These are safe for you and baby especially if you are using formula. It’s a great way to keep sterile water for formula too.For yourself or a Gift
Soda Stream – Terra
If bubbles are your thing (they are most definitely not mine) then you may want to consider a soda stream to encourage you to drink more water. Personally bubbles make my teeth itch and immediately cause me to get hiccups. So they are a no for me. But I’m sure my husband and daughter would give anything for one of these gadgets. They go through seltzer like it’s their job.For yourself or a Gift
5. Recruit all the help you can
When they said it takes a village they weren’t kidding. You do not have to do this alone. If you are in pain, tell your doctor. If you are sad or anxious tell your loved ones so they can get you help. If you are having difficulty breast feeding contact the nurses station where you delivered. They will have resources to help. If your baby is having a reaction to formula or detergent talk to your pediatrican for alternatives. If you suspect something is going on but you can’t put a name to it (this one’s important!!) trust your gut. You know your baby and you know when something is not right.
And hang in there. You got this.
Founder and CEO
Jessica brings a unique perspective to this leading epilepsy blog as she was diagnosed with epilepsy as a teen. She also brings 20+ years experience in marketing.