Pregnancy With an Ostomy

If you’re expecting a child, it’s an exciting time for you and your family. And there’s no reason why having a stoma should negatively affect your pregnancy.

Pregnancy with an Ostomy

Learn about pregnancy with an ostomy

Having an ostomy should not have much of an effect on your pregnancy. As long as you take a few precautions, your expecting months should be trouble-free.

Here are a few things you need to know:

Intestinal obstruction

If you‘ve had an ileostomy, you may experience episodes of intestinal obstruction during pregnancy. This can happen when the enlarging uterus slows down or blocks the passage of intestinal contents and keeps the ileostomy discharge from flowing into the pouch. The abdomen becomes distended, and cramping pain is felt.

Temporarily restricting your diet to fluids and resting may solve the problem. However, if the lack of stoma discharge persists and the pain continues, seek medical help. On rare occasions, hospital admission and intravenous fluids are necessary to “rest” the intestine.

Morning sickness

If you have morning sickness, it’s especially important to maintain adequate fluid intake to avoid dehydration. Also, try to eat frequent, small meals and avoid rich, greasy foods. Consult your healthcare professional at once if your sickness is persistent or severe enough to keep you from eating or drinking.


Women with urostomies may be more prone to kidney infections during pregnancy. Drinking lots of fluids is important. Although your urine will be tested at every prenatal visit, call your healthcare professional right away if you think you have a urinary infection. The doctor may want to do further tests, and will decide if an antibiotic is needed.

If you have a urostomy, don’t confuse the normal fine strands of mucus in your urine with an infection. There may be small amounts of bleeding from the stoma itself, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you have an infection. Women with urostomies are pleasantly surprised that they do not have to go to the toilet as frequently as most pregnant women.

Prenatal exercises

Attending pregnancy and pre-birth classes is an important part of your prenatal care. There is no reason why you can’t take part in the exercises. As your abdomen enlarges, however, certain movements can affect the security of your pouch. Remember to empty your pouch before the start of the class.

Stoma changes

As your abdomen enlarges and changes, you may need to modify your pouching system. For example, you may not need to use convexity. If you are changing your pouch more frequently, you may need to use something different. It’s a good idea to consult with your stoma care nurse.

Also, measure your ostomy from time to time, and change the stoma size of your pouching system as necessary. Most women find that soon after delivery, their stoma quickly reverts to its original size. Also, the skin may be different after delivery as the abdomen shrinks, so a pouch adjustment may be needed.


When you get an ultrasound, be aware that the oil or gel may seep into the tape or skin barriers. This can prevent or weaken adhesion. Change your pouch after these scans. Clean the skin thoroughly and make sure all traces of oil or gel are gone.

If you’ve had a urostomy, abdominal ultrasounds can be an issue. The absence of a bladder means that a clear view of the baby in early pregnancy may not be possible. Later, scans may be hindered by the position of your baby in relation to your ostomy. When your baby’s head is directly beneath the stoma, which is not uncommon, measuring is not easy. An alternative to abdominal scanning is a vaginal ultrasound—which also is useful in detecting any early pregnancy problems.

Diet, medications, and vitamins

A healthy diet is important for any pregnancy, with or without a stoma. During your prenatal visit, be sure to tell your healthcare professional all of the medications (even over-the-counter) that you are taking. A prenatal vitamin containing folic acid may be recommended.

Pre-existing conditions and therapies

Of course, any pre-existing disease might impact your pregnancy. If you are undergoing further treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, this is also a concern. Consult with your health care team for guidance.

Download the full pdf: Living with an Ostomy: Sex & Parenthood