Your J-Pouch & Pregnancy Questions
NOTE: This blog post is written based on my personal experience of being pregnant with a j-pouch. I’m currently early in my 3rd trimester and anything could change between now and then. While most of my answers are based on my own experience, I have done research on pregnancy with a j-pouch and know several other women who’ve been pregnant with a j-pouch. Please remember that I am not a doctor and that you should always seek the counsel of your own doctor or medical professional. Click here to read my disclaimer.
Q: Did you struggle to conceive or had any other complications with fertility due to your j–pouch?
A: No. There are some people who do have trouble conceiving or have other fertility issues with a j-pouch. But this isn’t the case with everyone. There are plenty of women out there who are able to conceive naturally with a j-pouch.
When I was about to have surgery, my surgeon warned me, “You may have trouble having babies after surgery. We will be taking out a major organ and sometimes the fallopian tubes end up with some scarring and cause problems conceiving later on.” At the time, I didn’t really care, to be honest. I was sick. I was focused on me and my problems.
If you want to know the honest truth, my husband and I weren’t even trying. I’ve always used natural methods of birth control (I have my reasons). It worked best for us. I had ONE miscalculation and BAM. I got pregnant.
Q: Are you hoping to have a vaginal birth or are you going with a planned c-section?
A: I am planning for an all-natural vaginal birth. There are surgeons out there that recommend a c-section (and many OB’s will push for a c-section). From my research, this is all based on the unknown long-term effects. The j-pouch procedure is a relatively new one and most OB’s have no knowledge of what inflammatory bowel disease is, much less a j-pouch. And surgeons feel there isn’t enough research done to say conclusively that a vaginal birth is the best way.
In my research, the risks are minimal. The risks are not even directly j-pouch related! One study by the Department of Colorectal Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic states that “…pregnancy has been shown to be both safe for the mother and the fetus without an increase in pouch-related complications…” In fact, the biggest concern among colorectal surgeons and OB’s is sphincter function after birth. Which, from what I’ve read, can happen to women with healthy, in tact bowels.
Q: What helped you decide what route you wanted to go (vaginal vs c-section)?
A: Many, many factors contributed to my decision to go the natural, vaginal route. I will list my reasons below…
I firmly believe I was created/designed to do this.
My body was beautifully designed to bear children. Women (of various backgrounds and experiences) have been doing this for thousands and thousands of years. And up until about 1847, women gave birth without drugs. The c-section wasn’t a “standard” practice until much, much later. My mother gave birth naturally 4 times to 5 babies (yes, I have twin brothers). She had no drugs and no surgeries! You can read her full Crohn’s Disease story here.
I cannot stomach the idea of another surgery.
Surgery sucks. Now, I’m not going to sit here and bash any woman who wants/needs a medicated/surgical childbirth. If that’s what they want/need, then by all means, go for it. You’re stronger than me! But I’ve had two surgeries. And there is the possibility of more in the future (I’ve got a life-long condition/disease, after all–you NEVER know). The more surgeries you have, the bigger your risks of having complications in the future. I’m going to avoid that whenever I can.
It’s riskier to have a c-section vs delivering vaginally.
Again, I am not about to put myself at further risks for complications (click here). Now, I know that a c-section is ALWAYS a possibility. Let’s face it, life likes to throw us curve balls. But I’m going to do my darnedest to avoid it. Natural is ALWAYS better for your health AND the health of your baby.
Lots of women are having VBACs.
The way I see it, having a j-pouch and delivering naturally is no different (and IMHO SAFER) than delivering naturally after a c-section (VBAC). There are lots of women out there who go on to have one or more vaginal deliveries after a c-section. They turn out just fine!
Q: Has your doctor considered your pregnancy high risk because of your j–pouch and medical history?
A: As of now, I have not been considered high risk. As mentioned before, there are some OB’s who will consider you high risk based on the fact that they have NO IDEA what a j-pouch is. My thoughts? Baby isn’t coming out of my butt. If you are in remission and feeling great with your j-pouch, but your OB is considering you a “high risk” based on the j-pouch alone, I suggest you shop around for another OB. Get a second or even third opinion. Arm yourself with the facts! Bring statistics and information to your appointments. This is YOUR pregnancy. You want someone who fully understands your situation and the medical procedures you’ve undergone. There are several women who were not classified as high risk solely based on their j-pouches. And, as I mentioned before, you shouldn’t be either.
Now, if you have gotten several opinions and your doctors all agree that you are a high risk, then you should definitely take that into consideration. Just make sure they are not basing that opinion on your j-pouch alone. I know several women with j-pouches who have delivered without the label of “high risk.” Remember, your pregnancy isn’t a disease. It’s a perfectly normal and natural process and should be treated as such unless you are having complications that would put you or your baby at risk.
Q: Do you have to go to the bathroom a lot more?
A: Some days I do go to the bathroom a lot more. In the first trimester and the beginning of the second, I went a lot more, definitely. I truly believe the reasons to be the fact that more hormones are racing through my body to keep baby healthy and happy. It’s no more unbearable than when my menstrual cycle comes around and messes with my j-pouch frequency. A good bidet, some Calmoseptine and patting my bottom instead of wiping has been super helpful in keeping the butt burn at bay. I heard a lot about pregnancy constipation, but living with a j-pouch, I haven’t experienced much of that at all.
Q: How’s your urgency been? Worse than your typical or about the same?
A: I have not felt an increase in urgency at all. So, I would have to say that urgency is about the same. What has gotten worse is the gas pain. I remember right after my takedown surgery the horrible gas pain, bloating and gurgling. While all that has increased since I got pregnant, it is definitely NOT as bad as right after takedown.
Q: Has your scar felt funny at all?
A: Surprisingly, no! I expected the stretching to really irritate my scars, but so far, not really. Now, I still have my final trimester to get through… so I suppose there’s still that possibility.
Q: Have you had any flare ups throughout pregnancy?
A: No, I have not. I’ve been in remission since my takedown surgery. I do know some women who have had flares (or possible flares) during their pregnancy. But I have not. Some women have been known to go into remission during pregnancy.
Q: Do you take any probiotics to avoid flare ups?
A: I do not, but I should be taking them. For a while I was drinking kefir consistently, but since my husband and I lost our jobs in October of 2015, we had to cut kefir from the budget. Someday (hopefully soon), I hope to pick it back up, but as of now, no.
Final Thoughts & Comments
I’m a firm believer in women seeking the childbirth they desire and deserve. If I could give any of you ladies any advice, I would tell you to take control of your pregnancy and childbirth experiences. Be your own advocate. If there are procedures that you are uncomfortable with, make your voice heard. And don’t back down if you are met with backlash. If someone tells you that you can’t, stand firm and fight for the birth you want.
Still Have Questions?
Do you ladies still have questions? Please feel free to email me! If I don’t have the answers, I can certainly get them. I will be taking a brief break from my personal blog (save for a few sponsored posts) to focus on the remainder of my pregnancy and birth of my child (who will be arriving in the middle of August). In the meantime, I will be hopefully still posting to social media and “re-blogging” old posts for you to read/share/ignore/whatever. I will be checking my email when I can, but please be patient if I don’t respond right away. I love you all and really appreciate your support and patience during this new season in my life. I promise I will be back. I can’t stay away from blogging for long. I love our community SO much.