I know a lot of you followed along with my pregnancy with having an ostomy and IBD, so I am excited to take part in a Twitter chat discussing pregnancy, birth and parenthood while living with IBD as a part of the IBD Social Circle. I will be co-hosting with Amber Tresca of About.com, so we will be able to discuss our personal experiences with our families. Dr. Loftus of Mayo Clinic will be joining, as well, to give us the more scientific and medical perspective.
The Twitter chat will take place next Wednesday, March 9, at 12:00 p.m. EST. You can follow along with the hashtag #IBDSC and by following our Twitter accounts: @smlhughes / @AboutIBD / @EdwardLoftus2.
I hope you’ll join us for this chat! We’d love to hear about your experiences and to answer some of your questions, as well.
**Janssen Biotech Inc. is paying for my time to advise on this chat. All thoughts and opinions expressed will be my own.
For anyone who followed along with my pregnancy, you’ll know that the third trimester was not particularly kind to me. I had 4 separate hospital stays during weeks 32-35 for bowel obstructions (which you can read more about here and here), the last of which resulted in an induction and the birth of my son at just shy of 36 weeks.
Thankfully we were mostly done with all of the things that needed to be taken care of before baby’s arrival, but when the doctors first started discussing me delivering early, we jumped into high gear on wrapping up everything that was left to do. Here’s a little of what the final 3 months of my pregnancy were like.
I am happy to report that I did not have any major issues with my ostomy bags. They stayed put for about the same amount of time that they did previously without me really changing much in my routine. However, I’m sure this might be very different for other women, depending on how their stomach grows.
My stoma got huge! Seriously, it was kind of crazy how big it was. It was at least 20 mm bigger than it was prior to my pregnancy, so this is what changed most in my ostomy routine. I had to order larger size bags, because the wafers I normally use were not big enough. Cut-to-fit has definitely been the way to go, since I never knew quite how big it was going to be, and I just measured it every time before cutting.
Even though the stoma was a lot bigger, it was less prolapsed than it had previously been. During the 2nd trimester, I felt that my stoma was hanging out a little far. During the 3rd trimester is was still out far, but more rounded and looked basically like my stoma did previously, just twice the size.
Bowel obstructions are no joke. I definitely know now to pay more attention to what I eat during those final weeks, when baby and your intestines are running out of room. In any future pregnancies, I will probably restrict myself to a liquid diet starting much earlier.
Eating becomes a lot more complicated when you’re pregnant, because you have to consider not just what you’re eating, but what you’re feeding your child. This becomes even trickier when moving to a liquid diet. It’s difficult to get enough calories, while making sure you are consuming healthy calories, protein, calcium and all of the vitamins that you need. I had to start getting creative with the foods that I ate.
Hydration is so important!! I can’t stress this enough. I know I’ve had hydration issues for a long time, which were then compounded by getting an ostomy and have increased further since getting pregnant. It is so hard to stay fully hydrated, and I’m sure dehydration played a role in my bowel obstructions.
I started getting a bunch more tests done once I started getting bowel obstructions. I had a number of what’s called a non-stress test, which monitors the baby for an extended period of time, making sure the heart rate stays where it should. They have to wrap these straps around you, and almost all of the nurses were concerned about bothering my bag, but it really didn’t cause any issue for me at all.
The bag remained easy to empty. I was worried about the logistics of trying to empty it into the toilet, but found that it was really not any different from before. I just had to sit a little farther back on the toilet seat.
I mentioned previously that my ostomy became more visible through my clothes, and that definitely remained the case. Thankfully, there are lots of options to help keep it less visible, such as wearing flowier tops or wearing a maternity band.
Sleeping was not easy, no matter what you do. Pillows help, but my bag did get in the way sometimes, especially since you’re supposed to lay on your side and it can get squished. However, I did not have any actual incidents with it leaking because I was laying on it or anything like that.
I did NOT have a ton of people touch my belly. (Hallelujah!) And no strangers felt the need to do so. Not really a big fan of people touching my stomach at any time, pregnant or not.
Thankfully, my pregnancy did not really bother my stoma site. On occasion I got a kick over in that direction, but nothing too bad. Again, I assume this could be very different based on the baby’s position, but I’m glad to not have had to deal with it during this pregnancy.
Of course I did end up giving birth 4 weeks early, but thankfully the delivery went smoothly and my son was born perfectly healthy. I’ll share more on his birth in the future.
For any other mommas out there who have been through/are going through pregnancy with an ostomy, what was your experience like? For those who have not, what are some of your concerns if you decide to do so?