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Pregnancy Diaries: My new arrival and surviving the post-pregnancy flare

Hi everyone! As I’ve updated Inflammatoryboweldisease.net readers about every stage of my pregnancy (including my first trimester, second trimester and third trimester)  I thought it only fair to share my post-pregnancy experiences too! My baby boy Jude arrived three weeks ago, and, along with him, a massive dose of hormones and potentially a reawakening of my Crohn’s symptoms. Here is my experience so far of my first three weeks of being a new mother…

My C-section experience due to fistulas

I went for an elective C-section because of my history with fistulas (since labor can cause tearing in this area). This was quite a surreal experience (going from 0 to baby in about ten minutes is pretty difficult to get your head around!) but overall, definitely the right one for me. Along with the obvious medical need in my case, it also has added benefits for an IBD patient in my opinion.

Knowing when I would have my baby might take the fun out of things a little, but it allowed me to plan. Spontaneity isn’t the best thing for my IBD! It meant I could (try!) to get plenty of rest and eat well before the big day. Of course, although it is a big procedure, natural labor can go on for days and could be extremely draining for an IBD patient with the additional stress of making sure you are fed and hydrated properly throughout too. The downside was after the procedure, my painkiller options were limited (since I couldn’t take the NSAIDS on offer since they can aggravate IBD) and it did take longer to be back on my feet.

A change in symptoms after delivery

I had been warned I wouldn’t go to the toilet for a few days after my C-section and was thrilled when this prediction actually came true! I don’t think I’ve ever gone that long without a bowel movement before. I must admit, I did think: perhaps this is my new normal? All my fears of rushing to the toilet on a labor ward did not come to fruition thankfully.

At first, my bowels were normal, but about 5 days after my section, my milk ‘came in’ and I suddenly found myself struggling with diarrhea and cramps that I hadn’t experienced since my first trimester (along with frequent hot and cold spells which apparently is called the milk flu.) At one point, I found myself on the toilet in the middle of the night holding baby in one hand and attempting to wipe with the other! Not what I expected from early motherhood!

Surely it wasn’t an IBD flare already?

I called my doctor, who had warned me that many women (IBD or not) can experience altered digestion post-birth so she wouldn’t be quick to treat and am waiting for an appointment. I googled and googled and did find many women who found their digestion was erratic post-birth and of course, many women with IBD who sadly flared shortly after giving birth too. Whether this was a Crohn’s flare or a blip it made sense: I have always been hugely hormonal when it comes to my IBD-noticing it worsening at certain points (like during my period and first trimester) when hormones surged!

However, about two weeks later or about 5 days since I stopped breastfeeding (more on why in a moment) and ever since,  I have noticed things have normalized again. I really wish we understood more about hormones and IBD as it is such a fascinating area.

Breastfeeding with IBD

Prior to giving birth, I had toyed with the idea of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding with IBD is a fascinating topic and one I plan to dedicate more time to in another article. After deciding to try to breastfeed whilst on Azathioprine, I didn’t manage to achieve what I wanted. As well as struggling with latch issues, as soon as my milk came in and I tried to express, my symptoms took a turn for the worse. Of course, some women have reported the opposite: that breastfeeding has kept a flare at bay (As I said before, hormones and IBD is truly fascinating isn’t it?) and I did research on this too. However, latch issues combined with battling toilet trips and a stay in hospital with my little one (Who struggled with weight loss in his first week) meant that breastfeeding became more complicated and after a few weeks, I decided to stop. I needed to focus on my health and accept help from loved ones to take care of my little one. I read many stories of breastfeeding and IBD (and as mentioned, plan to share these in another article) before reaching a decision and it’s hard not to feel ‘mom guilt.’ But since stopping, I feel so much healthier and that’s the most important thing for us both!

I hope this update has been useful and you’ve enjoyed following my pregnancy and post-pregnancy journey!

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

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    1 month ago

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Jenna! I am actually getting a scheduled c-section in a few weeks for our first child and had the same reasoning for it as you do–possibility of tearing and creating/worsening fistula, as well as at least having some control over the situation 🙂

    I appreciate you being open about the first few weeks of motherhood, as you raised a few points that I did not consider, especially regarding breastfeeding.

    Congratulations on your new addition, and thank you again for sharing this, as I am sure so many other new moms will benefit from it!

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • crystal.harper moderator
    1 month ago

    Congratulations on the new addition to your family! It seems like mothers put a lot of pressure on themselves to do things “the right way” (or so society makes it seem) and I’m so glad you’re doing what’s truly best for you and your new family. I can’t wait to keep reading about your new journey as a mom! Best wishes!

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    3 months ago

    Congratulations on the birth of your baby, Jenna!! Toasting from afar!

    Thank you for sharing this, it is really interesting. I too, am fascinated with the topic of hormones and IBD.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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