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How will pregnancy affect my stoma?

8th May 2019

Will a stoma affect my pregnancy?

At some stage in their life, most people want to start a family and have children with their partners. Every pregnancy is an exciting experience, even if it can be a little scary at times! As an ostomate, you might have your own concerns regarding pregnancy and any problems that you might encounter.

With a number of misleading pieces of information floating around the internet with regards to stomas and pregnancies, we thought that we would answer a few frequently asked questions in our latest blog post.

And, with another royal baby welcomed to the world in the past week, what better time to do it?

Do I need to speak to my doctor first?

Speaking to your doctor or GP is one of the best places to start if you are planning to start a family, but have a stoma. It’s highly unlikely that they will have any concerns due to the fact that most women with stomas glide through their pregnancies without any trouble. Even if you don’t think pregnancy will be an issue, speaking to a healthcare expert will give you the chance to air any questions that are on your mind which will help to put your mind at ease.  

As my stomach grows, how will my pouch be affected?

This is a completely normal thing to be worried about. Your stomach will get pretty big towards the end of your pregnancy, however, your stoma should continue to function correctly all the way through. As your body develops during pregnancy, we recommend that you keep drinking plenty of fluids to keep your strength high.  

On rare occasions, 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. In unlikely circumstances, a visit to the hospital might be required to ‘rest’ the intestine through an intravenous drip.

As your tummy gets progressively larger, it’s completely normal for your stoma to slightly enlarge with it. Don’t worry if this causes a small amount of intestinal prolapse into your pouch; this is to be expected and it is not generally a danger to health.

Do I need to adjust my diet during pregnancy?

In short, no. Continue to eat as healthily as possible throughout your pregnancy and stick to foods that your body gets on with. Foods that are high in protein such as eggs and meat accompanied by plenty of vegetables are ideal.

You might find that, during your pregnancy, you begin to get a craving for certain foods or unusual combinations. Don’t worry – that’s completely normal, too!

What if I require a cesarean?

For people with or without a stoma, the preferred method of delivery will always be natural, if possible. Doctors will try to avoid having to carry out a cesarean delivery on women with stomas because of the scar tissue that may have formed during your surgery.

Following on from delivery, you can expect your stoma to return back to normal in a matter of weeks as your tummy decreases in size.

Pregnancy is a daunting prospect but a magical one at the same time. Just because you have a stoma does not mean that you can’t enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy. 

If you have got any questions about pregnancy as an ostomate, you can always feel free to get in touch with one of our healthcare nurses or speak to your doctor for expert advice. Best wishes for an enjoyable pregnancy!

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