Can I still have a baby?
Women of childbearing age that have faced ostomy surgery or are due to have ostomy surgery fear that having an ostomy will make a pregnancy dangerous or high-risk. This simply is not true in fact women who had a child before ostomy surgery claim that a pregnancy after surgery was easier than prior to having their surgery.
Concerns about your Stomach and Stoma
The abdomen of a pregnant woman goes through many changes during the term of the pregnancy. You will notice that the stoma will change in size and shape during this time. You will need to measure your stoma more frequently and may need to change your pouching systems as your abdomen grows (the stoma is likley to become oval in shape as your stomach stretches).
Additionally if you have had multiple abdominal surgeries, you may have scar tissue and adhesions which may cause you some discomfort as your stomach expands, but is of no harm to you or the pregnancy.
Will having an ostomy affect my chances of becoming pregnant?
The short answer to this question is no. Having a stoma should not make the slightest difference to your ability to conceive and bear a child. If you do experience difficulties in conceiving, the reasons will be no different from those of women who have not had an ostomy.
Some women with an ileostomy my experience episodes of intestinal obstruction, the enlarging uterus can cause a hold up in the passage of intestinal contents. If ileostomy stops flowing into the pouch and the abdomen becomes distended, restricting the diet to fluids only and resting may solve the problem.
On rare occasions hospital admission and an intravenous drip will be needed to help ‘rest’ the intestine.
Maintaining an adequate fluid intake is also important, especially if you suffer from morning sickness, as if this is excessive it may lead to dehydration.
Ultrasound scans may cause a problem with adhesion of the pouch by the large amounts of gel used in routine ultrasound scanning which can seep under the back plate of the pouch. It is worthwhile taking a change of pouch when having such scans, scans later in the pregnancy can be complicated by the position of a baby in relation to the stoma. When the baby’s head is directly beneath the stoma, which is not uncommon, measurement of his or her head is not easy.
As an alternative to abdominal scanning you may be offered a vaginal scan which is also useful in detecting any early pregnancy problems.
There is no added risk to having the baby in the normal way even if the rectum has been removed. A vaginal delivery is usually preferred to a Caesarean section, due to the possibility of adhesions and scar tissue that have likely formed from the abdominal surgery.
The stoma usually will go back to pre-pregnancy size approximately 4 weeks following your delivery.
Just because you have had an ostomy, it dose not mean that you can’t enjoy pregnancy and childbirth. The possibility of having a family is a natural desire. After a long period of ill health a pregnancy is probably the best confirmation you can have that having a stoma is not a disability. In fact, it’s your ultimate reassurance of normality. Enjoy your pregnancy and your baby.