A Guide for New Parents With Ulcerative Colitis
Get Some Backup
Support -- from a partner, family, friends, or paid help -- is critical for parents with UC.
Take advantage of a helping hand to grab a nap or to step away from the house a while. Or have them take your baby on an outing while you stay home.
"It's a relief for my husband or mother to take our daughter to the park or go to the store for me on a bad day," says Guarnaccia.
Stay on Your Meds
If you take your medications, you'll be more likely to keep flares under control and have fewer of them over time. Don't stop taking any meds unless you check with your doctor first, and don't miss any doses.
"There's never a good time for a flare, but postpartum with a newborn is a particularly bad one," Cross says.
Ask your doctor about which UC drugs are safe when breastfeeding. Most of them are OK, but some are not.
Also, ask about medicines that don't treat flares but might make you feel better. For example, certain drugs can ease diarrhea and cramping.
It may sound impossible, but new parents with UC must get enough rest. Poor sleep and stress often come before flares, research suggests. No need to feel guilty about putting yourself first.
"If you can't take care of yourself, then you can't take care of your baby," says gastroenterologist Annie Feagins, MD. She's the director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic at the VA North Texas Health Care System.
Sleep when and as much as you can. Ask family or friends to fill in so you can get some ZZZs, she says.
Find a Bright Side
Sometimes, attitude is everything. Be creative, and try your best to be upbeat about your situation.
Due to surgery issues, Guarnaccia only had a 3% chance of getting pregnant. But she had no problems conceiving and is now expecting her second baby.
"I'm just trying to look on the bright side of things, because I know I'm lucky enough to get pregnant easily," she says.
Guarnaccia makes the most of her bathroom breaks by timing them with potty training visits for her daughter. When the new baby comes, she'll be ready with her plan for the bathroom, she says.
"Even if I'm in there 12 times a day, we make it work. We just take it one day at a time."
Postpartum depression can hit anyone, but your risk may be higher if you have an ongoing illness. If you feel depressed or anxious, talk to your doctor about working with a mental health professional who has experience treating people with long-lasting health problems.