Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pregnancy and Celiac Disease

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease my husband and I had just started talking about having a third child, so I was concerned with how the disease would affect our plans.

I asked the Gastroenterologist what having Celiac Disease meant for pregnancy. I was mostly concerned about whether the baby would be getting enough nutrients with me being on a gluten free diet. The doctor laughed at me a little and assured me that a gluten free diet was very healthy for both me and the baby, but that a lot of people with Celiac Disease actually had a hard time conceiving.

Lucky for us I didn't have that problem. A few months later I was sitting in my OB/GYN's office asking her how my Celiac Disease was going to affect my new pregnancy. I was especially concerned with what would happen if I accidentally (or on purpose, those pregnancy cravings are killer!) got some gluten. The doctor told me that the baby would take the nutrition it needed from my body, so I would be the one to suffer for deviating from the gluten free diet not the baby. She also assured me that the baby wouldn't feel anything if I was in pain from intestinal distress. I was actually pretty worried about that one.

My pregnancy wasn't exactly normal. Due to some physical problems completely unrelated to the Celiac Disease I went into early labor and had to spend the night in the hospital when I was 22 weeks along. This experience gave me a little preview of what it was going to be like to give birth at the hospital.

My hospital had absolutely no gluten free options. There was a little blurb at the bottom of the menu that said they would be happy to work with any dietary restrictions, but when I ordered my roast chicken with no gravy it came smothered in the stuff. My husband had to go out and get me a low carb hamburger so I wouldn't starve.

The next day I spoke to somebody about it and the hospital's dietitian came up to my room to talk to me. She actually asked me for my preferences and sent somebody down to the local health food store to get some of my favorites so that I could eat lunch without any problems. She even purchased a new toaster only to be used for gluten free breads.

I let them know when my due date was, and since I had to be induced (ironic isn't it?) I was able to call them ahead of time and let them know that I was coming. After the first bumpy start, my next visit went like a dream. They even had brownies for me.

So basically, if you have Celiac Disease and are looking to get pregnant here's what I think you should know.

1. You may have a harder time getting pregnant in the first place.

2. If you do cheat on your gluten free diet it probably won't hurt the baby. It will however be harmful to you. The baby won't feel the pain, but you will. Honestly being pregnant is hard enough, why make it harder. I can tell you from experience that that thing you are craving will not be worth the pain and fatigue you'll be feeling later. REALLY not worth it.

3. You may have to educate the hospital about your diet. Most Hospitals have an Expectant Mother Tour, I recommend you go and ask lots of questions. Ask to see a menu, visit the cafeteria and ask them how they will handle your diet, make an appointment to talk to the dietitian. Find out if the Labor & Delivery department has a fridge where you can store your own foods (labeled with your name.)

4. When you pack your Going-to-the-Hospital bag I recommend packing some of your favorite gluten-free snacks. Labor is hard work and you may not be able to get food from the cafeteria right away. Having something to eat handy can save a lot of trouble.

Congratulations and Best Wishes!

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