Can you still get pregnant with an ostomy?

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The short answer is yes. Yes, you can get pregnant after having surgery to get an ostomy …and I now can say this from personal experience.

If I haven’t already given it away: Yes, we are expecting! We’ve got a little peanut due July 2015.

pregnant baby conceive ostomies advice tips tricks stephanie hughes out of the bag colostomy ileostomy crohn's disease ulcerative colitis inflammatory bowel disease ibd ostomy blog stolen colon ileostomy colostomy urostomyIt has been a whirlwind the past few months of pregnancy tests, doctor’s appointment, telling our family and simply getting acclimated to the idea that there is a person growing inside of me… that I am going to be a mom in just a few months! Seriously, it’s mind-blowing.

It makes me very happy to say that it is still possible to get pregnant with an ostomy! However, at the same time, (and this is the long answer) I must stress that my experience is not necessarily typical and is not going to be the same as many others. I had been married for two years when I had my first surgery to removed my colon, so I knew that kids were something that my husband and I wanted in our future. I was scared of what having this surgery might mean for that. So of course, I discussed it at length with my surgeon both prior to and after my surgery. He told me that having the surgery should not affect my ability to carry a child, however, it could make it more difficult to conceive in the first place. I believe it has something to do with scar tissue from the surgery and also, just anytime you go moving things around in your stomach/gut-area it can affect the way your body functions. I was blessed to have had both of my surgeries done laparoscopically, so it was not nearly as invasive of a procedure as it is for many.

Now, I won’t get into the actual “getting pregnant” part, because I’m sure we’re all familiar with the process, but I did want to go over some of what it was like mentally trying to do so. I did my best to adhere to the advice that many of us have heard before: Hope for the best; plan for the worst.

When my husband and I decided we wanted to officially start trying, I was scared. Of course it’s scary thinking about how your entire life is going to change by having a kid, but I was more scared that it might not happen for us. Or it might not happen for us for a long time.

Something I didn’t realize prior to us trying to do this is how much waiting is involved. You have a very small window for it to happen, and then you have to wait two weeks to find out if it did, and if it didn’t, you have to wait two more weeks to even try again. It’s a daunting task for any woman… ostomy or not. Then after you finally find out, the doctor likely won’t see you until 8 weeks. Then you go back every 4 weeks after that, but you may not get another ultrasound until 20 weeks. So it’s extremely frustrating to not know what’s going on most of the time.

And unfortunately, there’s not a lot that we can do to make it easier. If it doesn’t work, it’s unlikely that you will know if it’s due to your surgery or if it could be something completely outside of that. In short, if you have an ostomy and want to become pregnant, there’s not really anything different that you need to do outside of the advice given to all women. (Things such as eating healthy, taking vitamins, tracking your cycle, stopping smoking or drinking alcohol.) With knowing that, we feel so blessed that it didn’t take us years of trying or any outside intervention.

After finding out, when I first called the doctor to set up my first appointment, I wasn’t sure if I would be classified as “high-risk” or not. (To be honest, there was a part of me that wanted to because when you are, you get extra ultrasounds and a little more attention.) But I was told that I was low-risk and that I should not need any extra attention than other women. And that’s really an amazing thing, even if I do not get as many ultrasounds.

From here on out, I’ve been told that nothing about this pregnancy should be different from any normal pregnancy, except there is a little extra concern about the fact that my intestine does attach to my stomach and therefore can potentially get in the way as my belly grows. That’s not something I need to worry about just yet, but I will have to be conscious of it a little later on.

I have not seen my GI surgeon yet, so I don’t know yet if there is anything else I need to know or do from his perspective. I will need to speak with him about whether natural or c-section would be the best option. I have known women with ostomies who have gone both directions, so I will be interested to hear his opinion.

I wish that I had some great advice that would work for everyone. I know there are many women who have had this surgery and others who have had a difficult conceiving. I would encourage you to speak with your surgeon or your GI. They may be able to provide some more options or perhaps refer you to a fertility specialist earlier.

In the end, I do hope I can provide some encouragement that it does happen, and just because you have had or are having this surgery, it does not mean you have to give up on your dream of becoming a Mom.

For those of you who are considering trying or have previously had a child, do you have any advice for others hoping to conceive? Did your doctor give you any other options? How long did it take for you to conceive?

Here are some more details on what my experience was like during the first trimester.

47 thoughts on “Can you still get pregnant with an ostomy?

    1. Janet

      First, congratulations. We are so happy for you both! You will be awesome parents!! Second, it is wonderful of you to share your experiences and offer hope to others who are in the same situation as you are! Keep us up to date on how “Mommy” is doing!!!!!

      Reply
  1. bryanna

    I love this and congratulations. I hope to read more about your experiences throughout, as we are planning on this in a couple of years and quite frankly it’s scarey for me! Xo

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Girl, don’t I know it? It’s such a scary thing, even without having an ostomy! I hope I can shed a little light on the subject through my experiences. If you have any specific question, let me know and I’ll try my best to answer them!

      Reply
  2. Elizabeth

    This is wonderful news! Congrats! I am not trying but I have thought that maybe in the future I might want another baby. I was told by my OB that I would have a c-section because I had my son via c-section and my ostomy surgery was not laparoscopic. It’s not ideal but it isn’t the worst.

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Thank you, Elizabeth! I will also be interested to see what my surgeon has to say about the best delivery options. I know it can go either way.

      Reply
  3. Leslie

    I’m so happy for you. I was not one of the blessed ostomates able to conceive. Might have been due to the 12+ intestinal surgies or the related female problems I had. I pray you have an uncomplicated natural child birth.

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Leslie, thank you for sharing. I know this can be a difficult topic since there are many who have very different stories. And thank you for the kind wishes and prayers.

      Reply
  4. Lisa Mason

    Congratulations! I don’t currently have an ostomy, I have a j-pouch. My hubby and I have been trying since June. You really hit the nail on the head when you talked about the tiny window of opportunity and all the waiting! Good luck to you and your litte peanut!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Thank you, Lisa. And yes, I’ve been finding out that conception and pregnancy are very unlike I expected them to be. I was really difficult to not be too hard on myself at the end of the month when my period would start and I’d have two weeks of waiting around. Best of luck to you and your husband! I will definitely be hoping to hear good news from you soon!

      Reply
  5. Tara Penney Parkal

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Great to hear about your pregnancy. I have a permanent ileostomy and became pregnant through IVF due to scar tissue. I also had an unplanned csection due to baby being transverse and preeclamsia. Baby is now 10 1/2 months, happy and healthy. If you haven’t joined yet, please join my group on FB called Ostomy and Jpouch moms. I will also share your story with the ladies. Feel free to contact me too!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Thank you, Tara! And also for sharing my story. I love your Facebook group and I plan and utilizing the ladies there over the next few months (or eternity.) I appreciate the tips, too. And I love the idea of a stoma doll! I will definitely have to look into that 🙂

      Reply
    2. Kimberly Fetty

      Thank you for your story. I have a permanent colostomy and had 12 abdominal surgeries before the age of 5 for Hirschsprung’s Disease. So, as you know a ton of scar tissue is in there. My husband and I have not been able to conceive naturally and this week started the process for IVF. I also have hydrosalpinx (fluid in fallopian tubes) which affects fertility and is due to the many abdominal surgeries. Your story is very inspiring. I feel so relieved to hear the positive stories of women with ostomies and pregnancies! Thank you!

      Reply
  6. Shari

    I had my daughter, 10 mos ago, with an ostomy and it went better than I expected. I had my first, pre-surgeries (his birth actually jump started my need for surgery). We were fortunate that we conceived naturally, but it did take some time and I had put off some surgeries solely to have more kids (w/o intervention). I was followed by a high risk OB and consulted regularly with an ostomy nurse as you will need to change up your products as you grow. I have other issues (hernia), so that was followed as well. Happy to answer specific Qs any time.

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Shari, thank you for sharing. I’m so glad that you had a good experience being pregnant with an ostomy. Since I’m not too far along, things have been smooth so far, but I am a little nervous about what will happen once everything starts growing more! I will definitely be needing some tips!

      Reply
    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Thank you, Karin! Can’t wait to share some of my experiences and hear from some others about theirs, too.

      Reply
  7. Kristen*

    Congratulations! How incredibly exciting for you! I have a 2.5yr old son and recently (Dec 1) had an emergency partial colostomy (sigmoid) and though I will be doing a re-connection in Feb, we hope to get pregnant later this year as well. It’s great to know that should my reconnection not be an option – that pregnancy with stoma and delivering full term is still completely possible. I am curious if many have had reconnection surgery and gotten pregnant after so if you are please speak up 🙂

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Thank you, Kristen. I hope you are doing well after your surgery and best of luck with the reconnection next month!

      Reply
  8. Ava

    Congratulations Stephanie! I’m so happy for you and your husband. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for a while. It’s been a bit rough but your story gives me some hope. I pray all goes well during these upcoming months.

    Reply
  9. Kathy Uveges

    So happy for you Stephanie! You look awesome by the way:). Your mom keeps me updated on your race endeavors. Any exciting ones planned before the little one arrives?

    Reply
  10. Melissa

    Stephanie you have no idea what a blessing you have been to me! I am so excited for you! My colon and rectum were paralyzed by a spinal injury caused by the spinal block they gave me with my third child 10 years ago. Last summer they took out my entire colon hoping it would help, however it made me sicker. I still couldn’t eat and I lost 50 pounds. In December we found out an ileostomy was the only way to go. I was devastated. Then I found your site – you are young, beautiful, and positive. Through lots of prayer and finding you I was able to go through the surgery yesterday. I feel total peace and strength. Thank you!!
    Melissa

    Reply
  11. Michelle J

    Congrats to you!! I wish you a easy pregnancy!! I can tell you from personal experience that pregnancy with UC was no picnic. I was in a constant flare up while pregnant with my son and ultimately I delivered him 8 weeks early. My second pregnancy was great but after I delivered my daughter I went into a flare up that ultimately ended in the removal of my colon (all while having a 12 week old baby at home). Take comfort in the fact that your pregnancy won’t be impacted by UC/Chrohn’s!! Also, if a c-section is in the cards please know that it is not a bad procedure; I have had 2 and they were easier than the colon surgery:)

    Reply
  12. Gabi Cox

    Hello! I’m so glad you wrote about this. I’m 23 and have a ‘temporary’ ileostomy- the likelihood is this will be made permanent. Although I’m no where near having kids right now it is something I want in the future & have worried about. Your post has put my mind at rest. Thank you xx

    Reply
  13. Carly

    Congratulations! Such an exciting time. I had my Ileostomy surgery 20 years ago (when I was 16 years old) and always thought about it affecting my ability to have children. It took us 18 months when we finally conceived. We now we have a beautiful 3.5 year old daughter. My pregnancy went great. I had 1 day where I felt terrible, possibly due to my Crohn’s, otherwise it was great. It was tricky at the end of the pregnacy to get my appliance to stay on, but nothing unmanageable. I laboured naturally until they discovered that my daughter was too big and actually stuck, so I ended up with a c-section. I healed wonderfully from it. They actually used my previous scar from my Complete Abdominal Proctocolectomy, so it was nice not to have yet another scar. Good luck with the pregnancy and please feel free to drop me a line if you have questions or want to chat with someone that’s been through the process!!

    Reply
  14. Tangela smith

    I have had surgy remove my hole colon and recta due to chrons i have beautiful son who 11 now but i had
    him before all this occured. But im trying mow and it been hard im keep trying i really want another child thanks alot bout share yo story it shadeed some light for me

    Reply
  15. Marci

    Hello, my name is marci, I just found out that I have to have the surgery to get a colostomy bag, I had one for a year when I was 10, but it was removed. Now the surgeon just told me I have to get it permanently, so I Googled to get information on having kids and your page came up, I do know anyone around me who has the colostomy bag, and I was wondering if we can email or something to get some kind of idea of what kind of change I’m going to face now that I am a 31 yrs old. I would just really love to talk with someone who can help me think positive about this journey into am about to take.

    Reply
  16. Graham

    Congratulations fellow Stomate I know it will go well for you. Only one question did Radio/Chemo play a part in your Pre/Post opp? If so does that affect having a baby. Sorry I’m a bit ignorant in this area….:-D 🙂

    Reply
  17. Alicia

    Congratulations! I just stumbled upon your blog trying to do some research about getting pregnant with an ostomy! Was just told I finally need to bite the bullet and have the surgery. I’m 30 and my husband and I want to start a family, now were told I should wait until I have surgery because it could be too unsafe with such severe active UC. So glad I came across your page to give me hope that I can still get pregnant with an ostomy!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Hughes Post author

      Thank you! I’m so glad that I could provide some hope about still having children. I would definitely discuss it with the surgeon beforehand so he/she is aware of your plans. Best of luck with the surgery. If you need anything at all or have any questions, please let me know.

      Reply
  18. Lissette

    I pray that you and your baby are well! I stumbled upon your page through Twitter and love your topics. This is one of my favorite! I have a five year that was born through IVF due to so much scar tissue (8 at the one of conception). It was obvious early in that natural pregnancy would not be an option and afraid does not even begin to explain what I felt. I had to stop ALL treatment for my CD throughout the pregnancy. My pregnancy was my “healthiest” time and my daughter is very healthy and very active. She is my number one cheerleader tied with my husband. It is scary, but possible and wonderful!!

    Reply
  19. Felicia A Reynolds

    Hi. Im 28 already have two kids but my boyfriend who’s been by my side for 4years want his own kids. In May 2016 i had my colon removed and now have an ostomy bag. We were trying to figure out how long will it take to produce an egg. Ive been off birth control for three years now. What shall we do. Im praying and wishing i could get pregnant now asap

    Reply
  20. Nancy

    Hello. For one I found your article so inspiring and hopeful. I am 35 years old. I was diagnosed with UC and Crohns almost 11 years ago after giving birth to my son. Since then i have had multiple surgeries and now I have a permanent ileostomy going on 3 years now. My husband and I have been trying to conceive with no luck. I was told I have many scar tissues and after getting an HSG done it showed I have a blocked Fallopian tube from scar tissue and I most likely will never be able to conceive naturally. Part of me is still praying and hoping it will happen naturally since IVF is not in our budget now. I was just wondering if you or anyone have any advice on what I can do to help with my situation? I’d appreciate everyone’s input. If anyone has similar experiences please share! Thanks a bunch!

    Reply

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