Whether you are already well into your pregnancy, or just beginning to talk with your partner about growing your family, questions and concerns about being pregnant with an ostomy are normal and expected. From the biggest question of ‘can I get pregnant with an ostomy?’, to general guidelines on health and nutrition, we have put together some information to help you along the way. Keep in mind that these are general tips, and every body and pregnancy is different. Should you have additional questions or concerns, you should consult your surgeon, OB-GYN, or WOC nurse to discuss further.
Can I get pregnant with an ostomy?
It is possible to conceive, enjoy a happy pregnancy, and deliver a healthy baby following ostomy surgery. If your surgery was recent, speak with your surgeon or WOC nurse to discuss timing, as you will want to allow time for your body to heal. While having an ostomy generally should not affect your ability to get pregnant, it’s possible that the disease and treatment that led up to your surgery may have had an affect on your fertility. There are at home tests you and your partner can take to determine likelihood of conceiving, or you may wish to make an appointment with your doctor.
Your Stoma May Change in Shape and Size
Your stoma as well as your peristomal skin (skin surrounding the stoma) will most likely change in shape and size with your growing belly. You may need to use extra accessories or even change your pouching system type during pregnancy, as well as postpartum while your body is growing and changing. Take frequent measurements of your stoma to ensure you are using the correct opening size, as the stoma may enlarge with pregnancy.
As your belly grows – depending on the placement of your stoma – it might become difficult to see it when you are changing your pouching system. Use a mirror to help you see those challenging angles. You may also require a second mirror (such as a hand mirror) to get more perspective.
Hydration and Nutrition
With any ostomy, and especially with an ileostomy, hydration is very important. Many women with ostomies make it through their pregnancies with no complications. If you have an ileostomy, there can be risk of intestinal obstruction where the growing uterus blocks the intestinal passage, keeping the stoma from working properly and causing cramping pains. A brief liquid diet can help to free up the blockage, be sure to consult your doctor or WOC nurse for more information or if this problem persists. Keep in mind that chewing your food well and drinking more than the suggested amount of water for the day can help immensely with digestion.
Oh, and enjoy those maternity pants, you may never want to switch back!
Comfort Medical does not practice medicine. The recommendations and information in this material are not medical advice. Contract your healthcare provider for personal medical advise or diagnosis. If you think you have a medical emergency, dial 911.