Navigating the First Few Weeks of Pregnancy with IBD

There’s no denying that pregnancy and looming motherhood is the most amazing thing in the world. But IBD and the first trimester may not always go hand in hand. As I type this, I’m 10 weeks pregnant. Although, it’ll probably be closer to the end of my first trimester when this is published. The last few months have certainly been a challenge.

When I found out, I googled accounts of pregnancy for those of us with IBD for a little reassurance. I could hardly find any. So I thought I’d share my experiences so far in the hope it might help some expectant mothers in the future…

The first few weeks were not kind on my belly

Firstly, time for some honesty. My bowels we’re ALL kinds of crazy in the first few weeks (I found out very early before four weeks and this lasted well until week 7).

In the first few days, I could keep nothing down. I’d already blogged before about how my period seems to do weird things to my Crohn’s. I can only imagine it is a similar hormonal response (although ramped up a gear!).

I had only begun Humira several months before, so it was difficult to know if I was flaring or not. But it didn’t feel like my usual Crohn’s symptoms. After speaking to my medical team, they assured me that it was actually really common to get diarrhea in pregnancy and not just constipation as you hear about. They assured me this could well be my ‘morning sickness.’

However, turns out it wasn’t my morning sickness. Right on cue at 7 weeks, my *actual morning sickness* arrived with a dose of daily vomiting. Although my bowels still weren’t 100%, they massively calmed down once morning sickness started. This makes me think it was a hormonal response after all!

I did a google search and found *some* accounts of ladies with IBD who found their symptoms worsen in the early stages which gave me hope it wasn’t just me. I had envisioned an instant turnaround for the better as you often hear women feeling amazing during pregnancy. However, I read that it’s not EVERYBODY that gets better. A proportion stays the same and another proportion gets worse. I’m hopeful I am over the worst of my digestive symptoms now but I’ll definitely update you.

All I Ate Were Potatoes

I am usually pretty conscious of getting a well-balanced diet but sometimes, all I could eat were potatoes without feeling sick. Don’t worry-I’m keeping things varied with potato chips, waffles, boiled potatoes and fries! I was lucky enough to find I had a perfect amount of vitamin D, folic acid, iron, and vitamin B when I first saw my medical team but I still struggle to eat as much variety as I’d like to. Prenatal supplements can be more difficult with IBD too. My nutritionist (Who I didn’t tell about the waffles!) advised me to take liquid drops or a powder-form to ensure I absorbed as much as I could!

I Continued My Meds (For Now)

I had only been taking Humira for one month when I found out I was pregnant. Whilst it may well have helped me conceive and manage my Crohn’s, I can’t deny there was a real sense of foreboding when I injected the first time I knew. My IBD nurse reassured me, explaining they see hundreds and thousands of patients with it. But it just felt so scary. Thankfully, I’ve had a few scans since then to see the baby, but I think I would be worrying about whatever meds I was taking. Whilst we all hope to be med-free, I am realistic that the most important thing is keeping me healthy. I am hoping that I will come off my medication in the 3rd trimester (as only small amounts of the drug crossover before that time).

So that’s where I am so far! I hope and pray all goes well and I am able to come and update you guys on my second trimester. Either way, I really hope this is a useful post for those expecting or planning to.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (4)
  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Thank you for sharing this! Wishing you the absolute best in your pregnancy journey. Keep sharing!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Amanda Osowski moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Jenna my first trimester has sounded so much like yours! Thanks for sharing – Amanda (team member)

  • Jenna Farmer moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    oh my goodness-really! I wonder if this is common!

  • Amanda Osowski moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Hi Jenna,

    I wonder too! I went through IVF and so I began taking oral estrogen a few weeks before my embryo transfer and that immediately caused my bowels to change – I was on it for about 12 weeks total and had diarrhea every day, even though my IBD had been “stable” beforehand. My GI indicated that this was not a surprise, and just to watch the trends once I stopped the medication. I’m just finishing my first trimester this week, and I’m FINALLY feeling like things are stabilizing some. The morning sickness has still been present, but hopefully it’s not for much longer!

    Thinking of you!
    Amanda (team member)

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