Does Crohn's Disease Affect Your Birth Plan?

When I fell pregnant a year or so ago, one of the first questions I had was about how my Crohn's disease would affect my pregnancy, birth, and beyond. In my case, I already knew the answer to at least part of the question.

High-risk pregnancy label with Crohn's

When I was first diagnosed with perianal disease, I was told that if I had a child in the future (which seemed such a long way off then!), that I would need an elective c-section. I won't lie, I did feel early on during the pregnancy that I missed out a little by almost 'knowing' the way my birth would go (although I would soon learn that no woman can ever really prepare for such a milestone!!) and that I wouldn't experience those things I'd seen in the movies: like my waters breaking in the shopping center or a crazy dash to the hospital at 90 miles per hour! However, at my first appointment, I also learned that my Crohn's disease would shape my pregnancy too. Just like that, without so much of a blood test or a scan, I received my first label: high risk.

It seems odd my pregnancy could be predetermined in such a way by illness, especially when it turned out, my pregnancy turned out to be completely textbook. Although the label wasn't ideal, I was grateful for the consultant care, close attention and extra scans this entitled me to on the NHS. After all, which mom doesn't like the feeling that they are getting the best care for their little one.

Yet, five months on, I was also keen to hear more from other women about their birth experiences and whether having Crohn's disease always means you're at high risk, restricts our choices and stops women from having the labor they'd like-or were things like home birth and water births still possible? I spoke to a few IBD moms to find out...

What other IBD moms shared about their birth

The home birth

Mom of three Sam from the UK has Crohn's disease and explains that after having her first in the hospital, she managed to have her second and third babies as water births in her own home.

The induction

Some moms might find themselves being induced: to either ensure the safety of their baby or for their own health needs. "Pancolitis hospitalized me for 2 weeks at 19 weeks so I ended up on Remicade and I later developed diabetes from Prednisone. I was induced at 38 weeks due to my Crohn's but this failed and I ended up in a c-section 36 hours later," explains Sarah. Sadly, Sarah also developed medically induced lupus postpartum from the Remicade but this did go away when she stopped the medication.

The water birth

Jennifer was pleased that having Crohn's just meant she was more regularly monitored during pregnancy but didn't affect her births in any way. While she needed a planned c-section for her second (due to being breech), she was able to have a water birth with her first child. "The water birth was amazing, it helped me so much!" she adds. The only thing Jennifer noted was that she had to have Oramoph as pain relief as Ibuprofen wasn't allowed.

The 'regular' birth

Angela gave birth to her son 13 months ago and is happy to report that despite too having the 'high risk' label, she had an entirely complication-free pregnancy and had a regular vaginal birth with an epidural. "I am totally healthy with the one major exception being Crohn's disease. My son is now 13 months and has been super healthy since the beginning," she adds.

Gas and air x4!

Hollie, who has Crohn's disease, has been blessed with four beautiful babies...all being natural babies with gas and air! Luckily for Hollie, all were fast labors! Hollie explains that despite being lucky enough to have four quick and calm labours, her Crohn's has been more erratic when pregnant. In her first pregnancy, her Crohn's flared throughout, whilst in her 2nd she flared after building up Humira antibodies. Her 3rd pregnancy also saw her Crohn's flare, whilst her fourth was calmer thanks to Infliximab.

The traumatic birth

Kerlynn has ulcerative colitis and believes her traumatic birth, in which her baby arrived six weeks early, is due to the fact she flared in the second period and her midwife and medical team didn't intervene. "I should never have had a natural birth and had more care during pregnancy," she adds.

As you can see, the experience of moms with Crohn's range from completely natural births at home to c-sections and inductions. It just shows how wide-ranging Crohn's disease and UC can be!

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