From Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) Ostomy Outlook October 2001:

Pregnancy After an Ileostomy
My Personal Experience

by Karen B. Hart, Metro Maryland; via Seattle (WA) Ostomist

I always wanted to be a Mommy someday. Due to circumstances, it happened after ileostomy surgery. I was 25 years old when I experienced the first symptoms of ulcerative colitis. In 1990, after 6 years of the disease, I had to have ileostomy surgery. A few years later, after I got married and we had settled down, we were ready to start a family.

My gynecologist knew me for years before and after my surgery. The ileostomy surgery had altered the angle of the cervix. It was a little more difficult to get a pap smear than it was prior to surgery, but it has never really been a problem. The doctor did not feel that this would hinder natural delivery. As a matter of fact, he preferred not to perform a Caesarean section, so he did not have to cut through scar tissue created from the surgery. I asked the doctor if he had any other patients with an ostomy and he said he did not. But he had plenty of confidence and that reassured me.

I became pregnant in 1994 when I turned 35 years old. One of the concerns I had as I would grow larger was if people patting my stomach would be able to feel the stoma or the pouch. It wasn't really a problem because it did not occur as often as I thought it would. My clothing covered all signs of the ostomy anyway. I also wondered what would happen to my surgical scar -- would it stretch too? It seemed to do so, right along with my stomach.

Eventually, I had to depend more on a mirror when changing my pouch because I couldn't see everything. I used the same pouches throughout my pregnancy and childbirth that I had been using all along. Leakage had occurred occasionally but no more frequently than pre-pregnancy. (I am currently using better pouches than I had at the time, so it rarely happens now.) At about 5 months, I noticed that the stoma had grown a little wider. I did not have any problems with food blockage (fortunately it has never been a problem for me).

I had read in literature that women with ileostomies who were pregnant did not have to worry about constipation or hemorrhoids, so that was a plus. Also, there was no enema used during childbirth.

In April 1995, I gave birth naturally to a healthy, almost 8-pound boy. The delivery was normal in every way. I brought extra pouches to the hospital in case I would need them. My stoma shrank down again, but it did not go back to quite the same size it was previously.

I am very blessed and feel fulfilled. The entire experience was rewarding.

Having an ostomy would not be a concern in any future decisions to have more children.

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Content last revised 2001-10-10