For many men and women across the globe, starting a family and having children is a natural desire to have. Of course, with any pregnancy, there are plenty of new experiences which are bound to cause a mixture of nervousness and excitement. There are a lot of misleading articles and pieces of information out there about the idea of sexual relationships and pregnancy with a stoma, but in actual fact, there is no reason to worry.
So if you are looking to start your own family, there are probably a few questions you may have about what impact your stoma will have. We’ve answered some of the main questions below…
Will my stoma affect fertility?
The good news is that the vast majority of women with a stoma are able to conceive and enjoy a very normal pregnancy experience. Having a stoma won’t affect your fertility so you should be able to conceive without any problems as long as there aren’t any other health issues.
One thing to remember is that even though having a stoma won’t affect your fertility, the condition that led to your stoma might. For example, certain aspects of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis can affect fertility, however, this has been shown to be minimal in most cases and is often not something to worry about.
Should I see a doctor before conceiving?
If possible, we would always recommend that you visit your doctor or GP if you are planning on conceiving in order to confirm that you are fit to go ahead. The vast majority of women with stomas breeze through their pregnancies with no issues whatsoever, however, visiting a medical expert will give you the opportunity to ask any questions and discuss what sort of things to expect during your pregnancy.
What should I do if I experience morning sickness?
The most important thing to do if you are experiencing morning sickness is to drink lots of fluid to prevent dehydration.
Nausea and vomiting can be problematic if you have an ileostomy since fluid and electrolyte imbalances can occur rapidly under these conditions, causing dehydration. Additionally, nausea can stunt your appetite, which can compromise nutrition for both you and your baby. If you are worried about your morning sickness it’s a good idea to go and see your GP to put your mind at ease.
Will I have problems during ultrasound scans?
Ultrasound scans are one of the many exciting parts of being pregnant and the good news is that it won’t be massively affected by having a stoma.
However, the large amount of oil or gel used in an ultrasound scan can affect the adhesion of your stoma bag. Therefore, you’ll need to change your bag after scans and make sure your skin is thoroughly cleaned and with no traces of oil or gel.
Later on in pregnancy, scans may become slightly more complicated because of the position of the baby in relation to the stoma. When the baby’s head is directly beneath the stoma, which isn’t uncommon, measurement of their head isn’t easy. As an alternative to abdominal scanning, you may be offered a vaginal scan.
Is my pouch going to be affected as my tummy gets bigger?
In many cases, the stoma continues to work just how it should all the way through pregnancy. Remember that your body is going through a number of changes which might require extra fluids, so be prepared to up your fluid intake to balance this out.
Occasionally, pregnancy can cause small episodes of intestinal indigestion where the enlarging uterus can result in a standstill of the intestinal contents. If this happens, the stoma might briefly cease working and you may feel a small colicky pain. However, increasing fluid intake can also help to resolve this issue. On rare occasions, a visit to the hospital might be required to ‘rest’ the intestine through an intravenous drip.
Will my stoma get larger throughout my pregnancy?
As your skin and muscles stretch and your tummy gets bigger, your stoma might enlarge slightly. Whilst this might cause a small amount of prolapse of the intestine into your pouch, don’t worry as this normal and not generally a danger to health.
Do I need to adjust my diet during pregnancy?
You probably know of somebody who has experienced some odd food cravings during their pregnancy! Whilst you shouldn’t need to drastically adjust the food that you’re eating, you might find that certain foods become more desirable than they have done before. As a rule, try to eat plenty of protein-packed foods, such as eggs and meat, and make sure that you fit plenty of vegetables in.
It is a good idea to avoid the following foods when pregnant:
- Soft cheeses
- Raw or partially cooked eggs
- Raw or undercooked meat
- High-mercury fish such as swordfish and tuna
Of course, it goes without saying that you should not consume alcohol or smoke during your pregnancy as these could seriously harm the developing baby.
Will I require a caesarean delivery?
Even if you have a stoma, the preferred method of delivery will always be natural, if possible. Doctors will try to avoid having to carry out a caesarean delivery because of the scar tissue that may have formed during your surgery.
Will I become constipated if I need to take iron medicine in pregnancy?
Iron is hard on the digestive tract which can, unfortunately, cause constipation. One way to go about reducing this effect is by asking your doctor for a liquid form of iron supplement. You can then start to experiment with gradually reducing your dose until you find a level that works best for you.
Drinking lots of water, maintaining a balanced diet and exercising regularly can all help to reduce constipation caused by iron tablets.
Will my baby need bowel surgery?
No, it is very unlikely that your child will need to have bowel surgery.
Will my stoma go back to normal after having a baby?
The good news is, as long as there are no further complications, your stoma should return back to normal within a few weeks, so you can enjoy spending time with your baby without having to be overly concerned about your stoma.