Hey guys, welcome to next next addition of Carrots 'N' Cake Instagram Live. This is a special episode as I partnered with the AGA on their IBD Parenthood Project. If you've been following me for a while, you've probably noticed that I have partnered with them for about a year on different projects. It is such a great resource for moms with IBD, before, during, and after pregnancy. I had so many questions related to my health when I got pregnant, and the IBD Parenthood Project has a plethora of info all in one place. If you're someone with IBD and you're planning to start a family, I highly suggest checking it out. We crowd-sourced some questions from you guys, which I answer below.
1. Did you struggle getting pregnant?
No. I was very lucky. I was definitely nervous that I was going to have a hard time getting pregnant as I was on birth control for 15 years, and I was in a UC flare; I also had friends that were struggling to get pregnant. But, a month after getting off birth control, we were pregnant! I learned that if you have your IBD symptoms under control, you can get pregnant at the same rate as any other healthy woman - definitely reassuring!
2. Did you stop taking your medication while trying to get pregnant/during pregnancy?
No. I stayed on medication the whole time. But what's interesting is my symptoms got better before I knew I was pregnant - my body was naturally going into remission, how cool! I had a great, healthy pregnancy for 38 weeks, and then I started to flare. An important perspective is that you need to be healthy for the baby to be healthy, so it's important to take care of yourself by taking your meds, if need be.
3. What were you surprised to learn about breastfeeding while on medication?
If you've been following along for a while, you know my breastfeeding story was all over the place, and I worried about everything. And it didn't help that I had a bad flare after giving birth. Every doctor I worked with (pediatrician, GI doc, OBGYN, lactation consultant) had a different opinion on what I should do. I just wish I had known about the IBD Parenthood Project then. Through the IBD Parenthood Project, I learned that women with IBD have the same nutritional guidelines as a healthy breastfeeding mom. Just make sure to check with your doctor to make sure your meds are fine for you and the baby while breastfeeding.
4. Did you flare during pregnancy and/or after giving birth?
I went 38 weeks with no issues. Then I started to have blood and cramping, so my doctor put me on steroids to keep my immune system under control. The biggest risk for IBD moms is to be in a flare - it's important to keep yourself well, first and foremost.
5. Has being a mother and the stress that comes with it impacted your IBD?
Yes! I gave birth to Quinn and labor and delivery went fine, but then when we got home, with the overwhelm of being a new mom, being in a flare, taking care of a tiny infant, not sleeping, and breastfeeding on demand, my flare got worse and worse and worse. I simply was not taking care of myself. At one point, I went to the bathroom 30 times in one day. My doctor wanted to admit me to the hospital, and that's when I knew I needed to prioritize my health ASAP. In hindsight, I kind of procrastinated getting on the right medicine, but I shouldn't have. I suffered longer than I needed to.
6. Are you concerned about your son developing IBD?
I think I would have been a little nervous, but I have learned that if one parent has IBD, your child has a 97% chance of not getting IBD. We try our best to pay attention to what Quinn eats and offer him healthy, gut-friendly foods.
7. What was your diet like during pregnancy?
Well, since I went into remission when I got pregnant (yay!), I gave myself permission to satisfy all of my pregnancy cravings. Prior to pregnancy, I was doing pretty strict Paleo, but during pregnancy I lived on Ben & Jerry's ice cream, mac and cheese, saltines... all the carbs!
8. What is one unexpected thing you learned after pregnancy that you wished you knew before?
Taking care of yourself first! You need to prioritize your own health so you can take care of your child. In other words, you can't be running to the bathroom every 15 minutes. And don't feel like you're alone and need to suffer through symptoms. There are many resources like the amazing IBD Parenthood Project that can be of immense help!
Thank you to the AGA for sponsoring this Instagram Live!