Pregnancy with Tumors: What to Expect When You’re Expecting!

Youtuber, Podcast Host and Author, Hannah Witton has been living with ulcerative colitis (UC), a form of inflammatory bowel disease, since she was 7 years old. In 2018, after a particularly severe outbreak, she had to have an emergency ileostomy to remove her colon and redirect the small intestine through an opening in her stomach. She is currently living with the monstrous cancer she affectionately calls Mona.

It is estimated that one in 500 people in the UK is living with flatulence (Colostomy United Kingdom). We don’t know the first thing about this potential disability.

Known for talking openly about taboo topics and having honest conversations about sex and relationships on her podcast Do itHannah’s willingness to speak candidly about her condition and the use of a tracheal bag in her daily life has helped hundreds of models feel seen, understood and empowered.

Now expecting her first child, Hannah chats with us about her pregnancy so far, from birth plans to new bags and tracking Mona…

PS: For all those with stomach ailments, IBD, scars and stories to tell, your body is beautiful. You can even celebrate it and talk about it with openness, acceptance, and pride.

First of all, many congratulations Hannah! How do you feel?

Thank you very much! I’m feeling pretty good right now and I’m very grateful. I’m just so tired and hungry all the time but I can handle that.

Very little is known around pregnancy with a hematoma, how’s your experience so far?

Oh boy was such an experience. Things are much calmer now (though that could change again…) but in a few weeks my tumor must have gone through some growth and I’m trying to adjust Navigate that by getting larger bags and different types of bags to fit your new outlet. . Luckily, the stoma nurse at my hospital was very helpful but I didn’t expect it to grow that quickly and there can be a lot of trial and error in finding the right bag. For a short period of time, I was in a lot of pain with my tumor and also just felt like the bags weren’t attached to my body, which made it possible to relax and get on with my life. you are really hard.

Do you have any apprehensions or worries about pregnancy? What are your expectations?

Honestly, I got pregnant with very little expectation. I know that everyone’s experience is so different that there is no way to predict how my pregnancy will unfold. I’ve done a lot every day and everything as it comes.

While it certainly wasn’t the easiest time, at least I didn’t face disappointment because it wasn’t what I expected.

Is there anything you must be especially aware of/do differently from being pregnant with hematomas?

When we first saw the midwife, I was immediately transferred to the obstetrics team at my hospital so the doctors could monitor me too. The stoma itself isn’t really a problem for the pregnancy (pregnancy is more of a problem for the stoma!) But I’d say the main thing is that since I don’t have a colon the medical team wanted to create one! make sure I’m getting enough nutrients to grow the baby. I’ve had to take a much higher dose of folic acid to make sure I’m getting enough, I’m also taking iron supplements and I’m having a series of scans so they can check the baby’s growth more accurately than I can. with tape measure. around the abdomen. And I’m not angry about any of that! I feel so cared for and so grateful for the extra scan!

What are your birth plans and how do you plan to have them? Are there any do’s and don’ts/restrictions for childbirth/pregnancy when you have a hematoma?

At first, doctors were considering suggesting I have an elective (scheduled) cesarean section because of my previous surgeries and the risk that scar tissue could be found on my uterus if I had to have an emergency cesarean section. – need more control over the situation if part C is planned.

Since then, however, they’ve seen me more and also talked to my gastroenterologist (who was very cold about the whole thing and didn’t understand why I couldn’t have a vaginal birth). vaginal delivery) obstetricians have said that they’re happy to recommend vaginal birth.

But it’s still completely up to me. The current plan is to give birth at a birth center, run by a midwife at my hospital. However, my birth plan may change with more information than we get from the mass scans I am experiencing. And I’m open to all the options.

The only thing that can add an extra layer of cushion to your delivery when you have a hematoma is if I get an epidural. Then I’ll need someone else, whether it’s my midwife or my partner, Dan, to empty my trachea when it’s full, as I won’t be able to do this.

Geography and childbirth are different, but in terms of postpartum recovery, does having a hematoma affect the recovery time?

It’s all a bit of an unknown to me and the best thing to do is play it really by ear. What I imagine will happen is that after I give birth before I leave the hospital, the hospital nurse will come see me and look at my abdomen and tumor and see if they need to give me another bag to go home. are not. And then it’s just a case of monitoring my stoma for changes again (if it’s there) to adjust as we go on.

How would you deal with people asking you about being pregnant with a vent if you’re uncomfortable talking about it?

Honestly, the only questions I get about it are from close friends and family who know I have stoma and so I don’t mind them asking at all. Of course, I get comments from people online about that which is also good because I talk openly about my cancer and my pregnancy and I just tell them I’m planning on doing both. a video about it.

When strangers notice I’m pregnant and might question it, they don’t know I have a tumor and so obviously don’t ask!

What reassures you that you want anyone going through pregnancy with a tumor to know?

While it’s clear that every pregnancy is different, I felt reassured when my gastroenterologist told me that having a non-automatic stoma meant I couldn’t have a “normal” pregnancy and birth. . Anyway, what is even “normal”?

And for any moms who may need a temporary/permanent colectomy after childbirth, what do you want them to know?

It can take a lot of adjustment, especially if it’s an emergency surgery like mine, but in the end having a hematoma doesn’t stop you from living your life. There’s a lot of support out there (online and in the hospital – all the stoma nurses I’ve met are amazing) and you’ll be surprised how resilient you are.

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