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Are you thinking about having kids? You’re not alone. Most women with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are diagnosed before or during their childbearing years and may have concerns about having children with IBD.
In this post, we share 5 tips to help you prepare for pregnancy. With proper planning and support from your care team, it’s absolutely possible to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby when you have IBD.
Schedule an appointment with your GI
Before you get pregnant, make an appointment with your Gastroenterologist (GI) doctor to discuss your family planning goals. Your gastroenterologist will be able to help you come up with a plan to prepare your body for pregnancy and should be able to answer all of your questions so you feel completely prepared.
Some of the key questions to ask your GI include:
- When will I be healthy enough to start trying/IVF?
- How will my medications impact pregnancy?
- Who else should be on my care team?
- How do I keep my disease under control before, during, and after pregnancy?
- What are the chances that my child will also have IBD?
Schedule an appointment with your OBGYN or MFM
Your OBGYN or Maternal-Fetal Specialist (MFM) will lead your care throughout your pregnancy and should stay in close contact with your GI doctor.
Your OBGYN/MFM will be able to determine the frequency of visits and how closely you need to be monitored based on your IBD risk to ensure you have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Together with your GI, your OBGYN/MFM will work with you to minimize your risk for complications as you bring your baby to term.
Check your disease activity prior to conception
If you have active disease, it may be slightly harder for you to become pregnant. Being in remission for 3-6 months (without using steroids) before getting pregnant can reduce your risk of having a disease flare up during and after pregnancy.
It’s important to work with your gastroenterologist on a plan to address your inflammation so that you can maximize your chances of getting pregnant when you’re ready.
Work with an IBD registered dietitian to optimize your diet
Your body’s nutritional needs change before, during, and after pregnancy so it’s important to work with a registered dietitian that specializes in IBD to make sure you’re meeting your needs for both your baby and your IBD.
Your registered dietitian can help you
- Optimize your nutrient intake to avoid any deficiencies
- Ensure you’re gaining weight as you should be
- Safely modify your diet to relieve symptoms like constipation or abdominal pain
- Keep your diet expansive and enjoyable so you can honor your food cravings as they change
Check out the IBD parenthood project
The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has created a comprehensive, patient-friendly resource for family planning with IBD called the IBD Parenthood Project. As you prepare for pregnancy, check out their website for answers to many of the most common questions you may have including:
- How medications affect pregnancy?
- Impact of IBD-related surgery on pregnancy?
- Risks your child will have IBD?
- Who should be on your care team?
- What if you have a flare up during pregnancy?
- What are your delivery options when you have IBD?
- Can you breastfeed with IBD?
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