Main Concerns When You’re Pregnant With An Ostomy

Pregnant and an Ostomy?! What now…

Being pregnant with an ostomy has been an interesting experience so far. When I got my colon removed my surgeon let me know that it might be more difficult to get pregnant naturally. If we were unsuccessful after a year, then we would need some assistance getting pregnant. The concern is if there was damage or scar tissue in my pelvic region then it could make getting pregnant more difficult. I don’t remember the exact reasoning, but basically the egg would have a hard time traveling through the fallopian tubes. Brandon and I tried for roughly 5 months with no success, which is very normal with or without an ostomy. Then, at the end of December, we finally saw the positive test! 

There’s are a few concerns to have while being pregnant with an Ostomy. 1. Your stoma might enlarge/protrude as your belly gets bigger. 2. Your stoma herniating during labor.

Enlarged Stoma

Once you’re all healed from your surgery, you’ll find that your stoma will shrink throughout the next handful of months. For me, it took about 4 months for my stoma to reach its size. When you get pregnant there’s a chance that your stoma will grow along with your belly. Some people even find that as their belly gets bigger their ostomy bags no longer work and they have to try out different styles of bags. From what I have read it is completely normal if your stoma grows throughout your pregnancy and after birth it’ll go back to its pre-pregnancy size. Postpartum you should be able to use your regular style of ostomy bag too.

As of now my stoma has not grown and my ostomy bags still work with my growing belly. Which is a relief. As we all know, ostomy supplies are not cheap!

Stoma Herniating During Labor

At this point, I still don’t know if I will be required to have a cesarean (C-section) or if I will be able to have a vaginal delivery. My OBGYN has done some research with Maternal Fetal Doctors that he knows in other areas; according to them woman with ostomies are safe to give birth vaginally unless their surgeon has instructed otherwise. My understanding is that if during your ileostomy surgery there’s concern of scar tissue or damage to the pelvic region then a there could be difficulties with a vaginal birth. But if there isn’t any scar tissue then you are safe to have a vaginal delivery.

The concern with a vaginal delivery and your stoma is the risk of herniating while pushing. My surgeon said it is most common with women who are overweight or out of shape prior to getting pregnant, but it can still happen to any women, regardless of body type. When Brandon and I were discussing options with my surgeon prior to surgery we asked what happens if you herniate your stoma. He said, if you still plan on having children then the ideal thing would be to wait to fix the stoma until after you’re done having all of your children. Otherwise you would run the risk of continuously herniating. If your stoma does herniate then you have to have surgery to correct it.

Delivery options should be discussed with both your OB and your surgeon prior to having any type of birth plan.

Overall, Pregnancy is Fun, Even with an Ostomy!

If you’re anything like me, figuring out pregnancy while also dealing with an ostomy was intimidating. But, so far, 24 weeks along, it hasn’t been intimidating at all. At least not from a health standpoint. So, if you have an ostomy and you’re nervous about what could happen if you get pregnant then I encourage you to reach out. Let’s talk about it. I can help share my experiences and answer some of your questions.


– The Bon

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