The lovely Stephie over at Colitis To Ostomy and I have written posts for each other’s blogs today. She has written about pregnancy with an ostomy as it is something I wanted to talk about but is not something I have experienced! Many people worry that having an ostomy means they will not be able to have children, which is not the case, as Stephie proves! Let me know what you think and pop over to Stephie’s blog to check out my post over there!
I find a lot of women ask about whether they can still fall pregnant with an ostomy. I am living proof that you can! With any surgery however can come risks; especially if you have abdominal or pelvic surgery as everything is somewhat linked. However unless you have been told by your surgical team that your fertility has been affected whether by adhesions or other complications/reasons, you should be able to conceive. Stress has to be in my opinion the biggest fertility killer, it took 2 years for me to conceive with Lyra-Beth (Ra-Ra) my eldest daughter who I fell pregnant with whilst having a jpouch. I used to track my ovulation, basal temperature and cried every time my period came so clearly that was a big factor for me.
Just before I became sick again with Pouchitis we had decided to try again for another baby, I had the implant removed and just decided to roll with it rather than stress over whether we could fall pregnant again or not. I guess already having Ra-Ra made it less stressful in a way because all my time when not at work was devoted to her.
I ended up becoming so sick I had to make the decision to hold off on falling pregnant so I could have my end ileostomy formed. It was quite worrying at the time because we weren’t very careful with contraception and I really needed my surgery. However we got to my surgery date and weren’t pregnant so I could breathe a small sigh of relief.
We were quite shocked to find out we fell pregnant within two months of my surgery, sadly that pregnancy ended in early miscarriage in the August and was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. In all honesty I probably am still dealing with it but as they say time is a great healer.
We were told to leave trying again until I had had a period and by the October we were pregnant again! I was really anxious that this was also going to end in miscarriage but thankfully on our 12 week scan we were blessed with a healthy looking baby on the monitor. I was able to breathe another sigh of relief and begin to feel positive about my family growing from 3 to 4.
I was looking forward to having a natural birth this time, as with Ra-Ra we were told that due to not having a temporary ileostomy with my jpouch (I do NOT recommend that) it was a bit risky as my pouch never really healed properly I had to have a caesarean. With both a jpouch and an ileostomy there is no generic reason why you can’t have a natural birth and be monitored a bit more.
You may experience more blockages as you progress through your pregnancy as I found that babies find intestines quite a comfy pillow! But as uncomfortable as they are I found once baby shifts position they quickly pass but just be wary of that fact. I didn’t have many issues with my stoma during pregnancy except my output went a bit crazy and because a lot of obstetric consultants and midwives don’t know about stomas I was limited on my loperamide but you can to an extent manage your consistency through diet such as starchy foods like potato, white pasta etc.
Other issues to be aware of are that as your bump stretches so does your stoma, so frequent sizing or seeing your stoma nurse is definitely advised. If you have had open surgery it can affect how your bump stretches and can be fairly painful, plus and scar tissue or adhesions in general can make your pregnancy pretty uncomfortable at times but heck the baby at the end of it is most definitely worth it! Also your intestines can contract (you know when your stoma moves? Yeah that’s contracting)
normally that isn’t an issue but when you’re pregnant because the space is being taken up by a baby everything obviously becomes squished so you sometimes can notice it more. If people told me that when I was pregnant with Ra-Ra I don’t think I would have been quite as paranoid (first time mums always are and it’s nothing to be ashamed of as it’s the unknown!)
My scar tissue etc pains didn’t affect me till I was about 27 weeks and by that point I had had enough, you are pretty limited to pain relief when pregnant plus some people with ostomies can’t have certain types of pain relief due to coatings etc. So I in the end opted for a caesarean because I was becoming quite low in myself and just wanted it to be over in reality, I don’t cope well during pregnancy. Some women do and some don’t but it all depends on you really.
All of my scans went well and showed we were having a boy which Ra-Ra finally had warmed up to the idea she may not be having a sister. As she had been saying “I don’t want a poo poo brudder” typical 3 year old mindset there! I was literally pouring over the apps to find out silly things like how big his feet might be and what stage of his development he was at.
Throughout my pregnancy we tried to involve Ra-Ra as much as we could; she came to the first two scans, helped clean/build nursery furniture, and picked his first blanket and teddy, sung/spoke/read to my bump. I think that they really helped her feel involved and allowed her to bond with Button before he arrived.
Unfortunately for me I was admitted into hospital the week before he was due; we thought I was in early labour as I had dilated a little bit and was having contractions. My parents took Ra-Ra pretty much for the whole week I was in. I went from maternity assessment to labour ward to maternity in the space of a few hours which was a thorough pain in my permanently out of order butt! Even more so when I was kept in because of “hypersensitivity to pain” what kind of BS is that? I still had to wait till the scheduled date as well which in my opinion if they just brought it forward they would have had a bed free!
So fast forward to his birth, I’m not going to go into the full details as it was pretty traumatic for me due to unprofessionalism but there is a post on it on my blog under the category “momostomy” which is where I post all my parenting/pregnancy stuff. But he was born happy and healthy to +44 – When Your Heart Stops Beating, which to anyone who doesn’t know the song it’s much nicer than the title suggests!! 00Steve (my husband) got the first cuddle and placed him on my chest just like he did with our daughter. He weighed 6lbs 15oz and looked just like his big sister, Jacob Terrence was the perfect fit for us and when Ra-Ra came to meet him his eyes opened and his head snapped round looking for her. Clearly love has no boundaries it just knows.
If you are having a caesarean make sure you take a spare bag in with you and tell the midwife or one of the surgical team. They removed mine and put on a flat bag they cut to 40mm which is a bit risky if you nothing about ostomies, because I need a convex bag and not to mention my stoma was only 30mm maximum! Thankfully when we got back to the labour ward I rang my stoma nurse as she sometimes works at the hospital I was at, even though she wasn’t there that day she rang the team there who came down and sized my stoma, even put the bag on for me and put my mind at ease.
Communication is definitely key when you are being seen by a different department because let’s face it even though it’s annoying, people can’t know everything and they are in a specialist area for a reason. So my advice on that is to ask questions, write them down and the answers go back to the other team and do the same so you have a better overview of your care and situation.
I am currently 14 weeks post partum and even though I have been lucky to have lost my baby weight and then some (!) my belly is still pretty wobbly and I’m struggling with leaks, after discussing with my stoma nurses we have decided to just plod on until my body settles down because rings and paste isn’t making a great deal of difference.
If you have any questions you can either read my blog (colitistoostomy.com) drop me a message on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or watch some of the videos I have posted on YouTube. If you are trying or thinking about having a baby, ostomy or not, I wish you all the “baby dust” and luck.