Date: July 2024, Version 4.0

Quick read

Gabapentin can be used in pregnancy if recommended by a doctor.

What is it?

Gabapentin (Neurontin®) is mainly used to treat epilepsy and nerve pain, and to prevent migraine.


What are the benefits of taking gabapentin in pregnancy?

Gabapentin prevents epileptic seizures, which can be dangerous to the woman and also lead to pregnancy complications. Gabapentin can also improve nerve pain which can severely affect quality of life.


Are there any risks of taking gabapentin during pregnancy?

Gabapentin use in pregnancy is not very well-studied. While the available information does not strongly suggest that it causes problems for the baby, further research is required to prove that gabapentin is safe.

As a precaution, gabapentin is only prescribed in pregnancy when the benefits (most commonly of controlling seizures in women with epilepsy) outweigh the possible risks.

Gabapentin is an anti-seizure drug and some of these can affect folic acid levels. Women taking gabapentin while trying to conceive and during pregnancy should therefore be prescribed a high dose folic acid supplement (5mg/day).


Are there any alternatives to taking gabapentin?

Possibly. Other medicines can be used to treat epilepsy and nerve pain; however, if these conditions are well-controlled with gabapentin, staying on it may be the best option.

Women using gabapentin to prevent migraine will usually be advised by their doctor to switch to a different medicine.

Ideally, women planning a pregnancy should speak to their GP or specialist to determine whether gabapentin is still the best medicine for them. Women with an unplanned pregnancy while taking gabapentin should be reviewed at the earliest opportunity by their GP or specialist.

No treatment

What if I prefer not to take medicines during pregnancy?

It is very important to take any medicines prescribed to treat epilepsy. Uncontrolled seizures can be serious and can lead to pregnancy complications. It is also very important that nerve pain is controlled so that women are as well as possible during pregnancy and while looking after a baby.

Your doctor will only prescribe medicines when absolutely necessary and will be happy to talk to you about any concerns that you might have. 

Do not stop gabapentin without speaking to your midwife, GP, or specialist.

Will my baby need extra monitoring?

All pregnant women in the UK will be offered a very detailed anomaly scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy as part of their routine antenatal care. No extra monitoring for major birth defects is required following gabapentin use in pregnancy. 

Babies exposed to gabapentin before delivery may experience withdrawal symptoms for a few days after birth. They will be monitored in hospital during this period and any symptoms treated as necessary. 

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has taken gabapentin?

We would not expect any increased risk to your baby if the father takes gabapentin.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding the information in this leaflet, please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from   

How can I help to improve drug safety information for pregnant women in the future?

Our online reporting system (MyBump Portal) allows women who are currently pregnant to create a secure record of their pregnancy, collected through a series of questionnaires. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, your pregnancy outcome and your child's development. You can update your details at any time during pregnancy or afterwards. This information will help us better understand how medicines affect the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please visit the MyBump Portal to register.

General information
Sadly, miscarriage and birth defects can occur in any pregnancy.

Miscarriage occurs in about 1 in every 5 pregnancies, and 1 in every 40 babies are born with a birth defect. This is called the ‘background risk’ and happens whether medication is taken or not.

Most medicines cross the placenta and reach the baby. For many medications this is not a problem. However, some medicines can affect a baby’s growth and development.

If you take regular medication and are planning to conceive, you should discuss whether your medicine is safe to continue with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant. If you have an unplanned pregnancy while taking a medicine, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please make sure that the person prescribing it knows that you are pregnant. If you have any concerns about a medicine, you can check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

Our Bumps information leaflets provide information about the effects of medicines in pregnancy so that you can decide, together with your healthcare provider, what is best for you and your baby.