Pregnancy After an Ileostomy
by Karen B. Hart, Metro Maryland; via Seattle (WA)
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
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
Having an ostomy would not be a concern in any future decisions to
have more children.