Anytime you are contemplating motherhood you need to consider your overall health, including possible chronic conditions.
And in the case of inflammatory bowel disease, a chronic condition that affects the intestines and other organs, it’s good to know you can usually go ahead with pregnancy, as long as you are under a doctor’s supervision and are diligent about self-care.
A helpful video called “Pregnancy and IBD: What You Need to Know” from Johns Hopkins Hospital lays down a few ground rules:
First, your inflammatory bowel disease -- whether it’s ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease -- must be “very well controlled” before you become pregnant, said Dr. Tina Ha of the Meyerhoff Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Johns Hopkins.
Be sure to discuss family planning ahead of time with both your gastroenterologist and obstetrician/gynecologist, Ha said.
“The fundamental goal is that you want your disease to be in remission. That means you feel perfect prior to becoming pregnant,” she stated.
When you start the pregnancy journey with your IBD in remission, there’s a greater likelihood it will stay in remission. The likelihood of a safe pregnancy increases as well.
On the other hand, IBD that is active during conception and pregnancy raises alarms. Some doctors feel that flare-ups are associated with preterm delivery and low birth weight.
Second, stay on the medications that put your IBD into remission. Your gastroenterologist will monitor types and dosage.
In the video, Ha said that the occurrence of flare-ups from active IBD during pregnancy puts you and the baby at greater risk than the medications themselves. She explained that most IBD medications are Category B, which denotes that they are safe to take during pregnancy.
Third, be sure to maintain your nutritional status and your overall state of health. For example, make sure you are not anemic and that your vaccinations are up-to-date, Ha said.
Fourth, contact your obstetrician and your gastroenterologist if a flare-up occurs during pregnancy. You don’t want it to affect your nutritional needs because that affects the baby, Ha noted.