How to Manage Crohn's Disease During Pregnancy
A Healthy Delivery
Alissa Light, a 34-year-old mom from Independence, Kentucky, gave birth to a healthy daughter five years ago, despite living for 16 years with Crohn’s disease and undergoing one surgery. She remained on 6-MP throughout her pregnancy. “My doctor said it would be better to stay on 6-MP,” she says. She tried to ignore what she read about the medication possibly causing low birth weight, kidney problems, and an extra toe.
Throughout her pregnancy, Light’s obstetrician and her gastroenterologist worked together and communicated often. She had six ultrasounds to monitor the development of the baby. “He was extremely cautious,” Light says about her obstetrician. After 12 hours in labor, her daughter, Madison Ann, was born at a healthy eight pounds, four ounces.
Light says she felt healthier during her pregnancy than she had in a long time. She even traveled on a cruise for seven days and stopped taking her regular dose of Immodium for her diarrhea. “Everything was a piece of cake,” she says.
“I’ve actually been impressed that a significant number of patients will go into remission during pregnancy,” says Dr. Stephen B. Hanauer, MD, professor of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at the University of Chicago, during a CCFA medical lecture. “Many women tell me they’ve never felt better than during pregnancy.”
For Light, the recovery was the difficult part. She thinks that the stress of a fourth-degree episiotomy (a cut to widen the birth canal) and her prior surgery caused a fistula, which has yet to heal. In Crohn’s disease cases with abscesses or fistulas (a channel that develops between the anus and the skin), the CCFA recommends delivery by Cesarean section.
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