Deciding to have a baby is a big decision to make. It is even harder if you have medical issues you know will be made worse by pregnancy. Since 2012 I’ve had 3 surgeries to fuse my lumber spine. Over the course of the 3 years I never really gave up hope of having baby number three. At times life has been really difficult and full of pain so I was well aware that becoming pregnant after back surgery would only make this worse.
Having baby number three was a big discussion between my husband and I. We were lucky to have two healthy boys so in some ways I felt a bit selfish for wanting another baby, but I guess I just couldn’t help those maternal urges. Selfish because I knew this wasn’t going to be easy if I fell pregnant and that it would have a big impact on my husband and sons.
I tried to be sensible and spoke to the spinal surgeons and doctors before we started trying for a baby. The important thing for me was that the spinal consultant said although the pregnancy would be painfu,l he didn’t believe it would do any long term damage to my back or make the condition worse.
The right timing
We waited to start trying for a baby until I’d been told that the fusion had taken and my spine was stable. It would have been a huge mistake for me to consider getting pregnant before this point. Once I was pregnant there’s very little they could have done to help stabilise my spine. I also had the metalwork removed from my back before we started trying. I didn’t think that this was essential but it was causing me pain and starting to come loose again which meant it had to come out.
The other important thing I needed to do was to stop taking all the pain medications. At one point I was taking slow release morphine, anti inflammatories and something to help relax the muscles. All of these are not recommend for use during pregnancy. Before even considering having a baby I needed to stop these and be able to function normally without too much pain.
I wanted to start exercising and get to a much stronger place. After the first surgery I could barely walk and I definitely didn’t have any core strength. For a year before we started trying for a baby I did Pilates to help strengthen muscles. I really think this helped me cope with pregnancy, I wouldn’t have been able to manage if I hadn’t have done this.
When we did decide to start trying for baby number three we decided not to put any pressure on ourselves. We agreed that if it happened then that would be amazing. If it didn’t then we would be happy and grateful for the two lovely boys we already have.
Here are some things for consideration if you are thing about trying for a baby;
- The most important thing is to be realistic it won’t be easy.
- Have conversations with you doctors. Take advice about whether the pregnancy is going to make your condition worse.
- Ask them what support the doctors can give you during your pregnancy.
- Do some research and find stories of other women who have a similar condition and can share their experiences.
- Be prepared for the fact that it probably will be more complicated and painful than normal.
- Make sure you have support from friends and family. They can offer help on a day to day basis, especially if you have other children.
- Get yourself as fit as possible before you start trying for a baby, this will really help you during the pregnancy.
Having just gone through this I can tell you that this pregnancy was more painful than having the boys prior to my back surgery. It was trying at times but now that our beautiful daughter is here it was worth every second of pain.