You Can Get Pregnant After Surgery

I spend a lot of time talking with fellow inflammatory bowel disease patients. Several times a month, I get questions from women worried about fertility and whether or not they will be able to conceive. They wonder if a healthy pregnancy is possible. Not just because they have a chronic illness, but because they’ve had surgery. More specifically, j-pouch surgery. I am living proof that you can get pregnant after surgery.

Do You Want Children?

It was one of the first questions that my surgeon asked me when my husband and I went in for my consultation. I had been dealing with a year-long flare and I had had enough. I was tired of jumping from medication to medication hoping for relief. I knew that a j-pouch was a very real possibility and that it offered me a 94-95% chance of feeling better. Because of this, I honestly didn’t care about children. I just wanted the stupid colon out! And I wanted it out NOW.

The surgeon explained to me that surgery is a very delicate process. He said “We’re going to be working around your fallopian tubes… they’re featherlike and very sensitive. You could have scarring that could make it difficult to get pregnant later on. I could very possibly take your colon out, you could live with an ostomy, have your children and when you’re finished, we can create your j-pouch.”

“I don’t care,” I said. “I’m ready.”

Oops!

Fast forward to nearly 3 years after my first surgery. I honestly never really felt that maternal pull. And babies were cute, but I didn’t get the baby fever that so many women talk about. Babies were far from on my mind. I was more focused on my IBD advocacy efforts. I love raising awareness. It’s my passion.

And then it happened. On December 4, 2016, I found out I was pregnant. People often ask me if it’s difficult to get pregnant after surgery. For some patients it most definitely is. But for me (and others like me), it wasn’t that difficult at all. I had one miscalculation and ended up pregnant. I remember feeling very panicky. I didn’t want to have to deal with more doctors again! But that’s a story for another time. I was pregnant and I was determined to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

My Story Isn’t Unique

There are many, many women out there living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis who’ve also had surgeries and had healthy pregnancies. My situation wasn’t a fluke. My mother and aunt have Crohn’s and both of them have had surgeries. They’ve also both had several children afterward. I have several friends with ulcerative colitis who’ve had surgery and they’ve also given birth to several children.

All this to say, you can have babies. You can have a healthy pregnancy and healthy babies.

My Pregnancy

I had no problems related to ulcerative colitis or my j-pouch during my entire pregnancy. The worst was the morning sickness and my j-pouch being cranky because of the pregnancy hormones. Beyond that, everything went really well. I do remember being extremely exhausted nearly all nine months. But that’s a “normal” pregnancy symptom.

Childbirth

Childbirth wasn’t so bad either. I didn’t give birth in a hospital, but a birthing center! I found a midwife who was willing to take me on as a client despite my medical history. Something I feel freaks many doctors out is the fact that they do not understand IBD or j-pouches. But as I tell so many people, babies don’t come out of colons or j-pouches. I wanted to have that baby naturally (mostly due to hospital PTSD). And so, I did.

I had a 29 hour labor. It was hard, and yes! Painful. But I did it. There were no problems j-pouch related at all and at 1:15 on August 20, 2017, my beautiful, healthy baby daughter was born. She is my world. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Conclusion

So yes! You can have a healthy pregnancy. You can get pregnant after surgery. There are a few ladies out there who do need fertility treatments, but again, just because you’ve had surgery doesn’t mean it will be difficult for you to get pregnant. If you have any questions, please ask me! I love the questions and I love helping people.

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