Women with IBD need more pregnancy advice

By Julie Griffiths on 09 April 2018 Advice Research

Researchers say that women with inflammatory bowel disease should be given more advice about pregnancy, so that they can make informed choices about their options and care.

The study, led by the University of Leeds, chronicled the experiences of 22 women who have had children, to plug an information gap about the realities of becoming a mother with IBD.

The research, published in the journal Qualitative Health Research, draws on the evidence that women with the disease often decide not to have children, or to restrict the size of their family, because of fears for their health during pregnancy and that of their baby too.

The testimony of the women who took part in the study revealed fears about the consequences of becoming pregnant: whether they would pass on the condition to their baby or if they could ever cope with a small child during periods when their condition would flare-up.

IBD is an umbrella term referring to severe digestive disorders including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. It causes stomach pains, fever, weight loss and recurring diarrhoea and fatigue.

Although IBD can cause complications during pregnancy, research shows that one third of women with the condition will not get worse and another third will actually see an improvement in their health.

The researchers have made three films featuring the women in the research, who describe their experiences having IBD and planning for a baby, being pregnant and having IBD, and being a mum with IBD.

Professor Anna Madill, a psychologist who supervised the research, said: ‘It is desperately sad that women are opting to remain childless because they are unable to get an accurate picture of the risks they face.

‘If they have access to that information, they may make an entirely different choice. The healthcare system needs to make sure that women living with IBD have access to all the facts necessary to make a fully-informed decision.’

She added: ‘One of the main points to emerge from the study is that learning to live with a chronic illness has helped the women prepare for motherhood. These women coped well with becoming parents.’

Access the research paper here.

View the videos here.