Since having your ostomy surgery, have you thought about having kids?
Perhaps you’ve wondered what getting and being pregnant with your stoma might be like. I can obviously only talk from a female perspective but I have been pregnant with both a jpouch and an ileostomy (in fact, I’m pregnant at the moment!), so I have a fair amount of experience to share with those who are interested.
My research told me I should still be able to conceive after stoma surgery
I did a fair bit of research myself into pregnancy with an ostomy before I went ahead with my stoma surgery because 00Steve and I had decided to try for another baby just around the same time that I was diagnosed with pouchitis (an inflammation of my jpouch, making it irritated and inflamed). Our daughter, Ra-Ra, was coming up to 3 and we’d thought it might be a nice little age gap. According to my research, there seemed to be no reason why we wouldn’t still be able to conceive following my stoma surgery (depending on how the surgery itself went), so we stuck to our guns and just tried to be extra careful not to fall pregnant before my surgery!
We fell pregnant really quickly
I had my surgery in April ’16 and by the July we were already pregnant, which shocked us both that it happened so quickly. Sadly, however, that wasn’t meant to be - we had a miscarriage in the August. We were told to wait a month and try again. We were surprised when October rolled round and we were pregnant again! Considering the fact that, after my jpouch surgery, the surgeon said my fertility had dropped by up to 25% and my obstetrician dealing with my c-section for Ra-Ra said she was essentially a miracle, I think I’ve done really well to fall pregnant three times - regardless of the outcome. Now I’m not far off the 3rd trimester and, cor blimey, time has gone quickly!
Having a stoma has actually made this pregnancy much better
So far, this (my second pregnancy) has been the easier out of the two - I guess not being in a flare with Ulcerative Colitis, like I was when pregnant with Ra-Ra, helps massively. Obviously, my stoma has taken away all of the diseased part of my body and I’m so much healthier than I was before, which I think ultimately makes all the difference.
I have still had some stoma-related issues during this pregnancy, though.
None of my research told me that pregnancy might cause hormonal reactions to my stoma bag adhesive. This has affected me quite a lot because my skin, from my stoma to the edge of the base plate, breaks out in an itchy red dotted rash. It looks like an allergic reaction but my Stoma Care Nurses assure me that it’s caused by hormones, not allergies. I am not a huge fan of letting my stoma ‘air off’, so applying cream is pretty much out of the question for me personally. I’ve tried a couple of different stoma bag brands which have suited me in the past - but whilst pregnant I can never seem to find ‘The One’. Some don’t work well with the barrier rings underneath (due to my bump) and others just don’t sit right at all. The other useful thing my Stoma Care Nurses told me was that, as my bump grows, I need to size my stoma more often because it can stretch too. Oh – and to not forget a change of stoma bag when going for ultrasounds as it can get messy! Sometimes I worry, too, that my bump is tiny. But I know from research that weight gain can be an issue for some women with both stomas and Inflammatory Bowel Disease as the body can’t tolerate certain foods, let alone absorb the nutrients properly.
Fingers crossed that late pregnancy and labour goes smoothly
Although I’m considered a ‘high risk labour’ due to my previous c-section, I’m hoping that I don’t have any more problems now in late pregnancy. Or at least not the same problems I had with Ra-Ra. Between the pressure of her moving and the excruciation of my bump stretching against scar tissue, I swear I was seen by the maternity unit every week for the last few months. I also suffered with polyhydraminos (where the baby has too much amniotic fluid in the sac), which sucked big time. Here’s hoping that now I don’t have the jpouch or my rectum, it allows for a little more space in there for Button to move and grow!
I reassure myself by reading about - and meeting - women with ostomies who have successfully gone through pregnancy and labour with no problems at all. I’m allowed to try for a natural birth, too, so my medical team must have confidence in me but I do know there’s a chance a C-section may be required - which I’m okay with, it will just be like it was last time.
I hope this has been helpful to anybody either pregnant with a stoma, or considering trying for a baby. I have written posts on my own blog about my pregnancy and miscarriage if you would like to read those, or feel free to post any questions for me in the comments below.