Women with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) need more advice about pregnancy in order to make informed choices about their pregnancy.
A research project that documented the experiences of 22 women and found that some had decided not to have children, or restrict their family size, and many women feared the consequences of pregnancy.
‘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,’ said Anna Madill, a supervisor of the research.
‘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.’
Participants were concerned that they would pass down the condition to their children as well as worried that they would be unable to cope with a small child during periods when their condition would flare-up.
IBD is an overarching term that defines severe digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which can cause severe stomach pains, weight loss, and recurring diarrhoea.
There is no cure for IBD and people living with the condition will experience periods of stability, with no symptoms, and then periods of flare-ups which be debilitating and affect quality of life. In the UK, 1 in 250 people have the condition and its incidence is increasing.
The researchers, from the University of Leeds, made three films featuring participants describing their experiences of living with, being pregnant with, and being a mother with IBD.
‘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,’ added Ms Madill.
‘These women coped well with becoming parents.’