An easy way to check on the status of the colon and to make sure everything is status quo is to have a colonoscopy. By going through the procedure, doctors are able to get a look at the intestines and the colon to see how healthy the area is. And by having a colonoscopy, as recommended, the chances of catching colon cancer early are greatly improved. Something pregnant women likely do not have on their minds as they get ready to welcome their babies into the world. But there are times when colonoscopies are needed while expecting and things women need to know when getting them.
Women who have to undergo colonoscopies have to do the same prep and have the same procedure that everyone else does who is not expecting. Therefore, it is easy to see why there would be some nervousness surrounding being told that one is required at any stage of pregnancy.
But, given the number of women who have successful colonoscopies when expecting and the lack of complications that result from them, the anxiety felt is for not.
Here is what women need to know when having a colonoscopy while pregnant.
Having A Colonoscopy Is Safe During Pregnancy
When it is recommended for pregnant women to have a colonoscopy, there may be some trepidation about the prep they have to take and then going under general anesthesia for the procedure. But according to BMC Gastroenterology, the risk of complications for pregnant women and their unborn babies is low when having a colonoscopy.
But, the necessity for pregnant women to have a colonoscopy is rare, given that the first age recommended for having a colonoscopy is 45 years oldaccording to WebMD. While there are unique circumstances that would call for women younger than this to have the procedure done, most women have had their babies by the earliest age to have a colonoscopy.
As such, it is not very often that the procedure would be done while expecting. But if it has to be done, women should not be concerned.
Timing Of Colonoscopy During Pregnancy
If there is a medical reason that mothers-to-be need to have a colonoscopy that cannot wait until after they deliver their babies, it appears that the longer the procedure can be put off, the better off women and their unborn babies are.
According to The American Journal of Gastroenterologywhile a colonoscopy can be performed at any time during pregnancy, the second and third trimesters have proven to be the safest. This is because there is a risk of “spontaneous abortion” during the first trimester of pregnancyaccording to the publication that does not exist for the latter two-thirds of pregnancy.
Therefore, if the possibility exists to prolong the procedure until women are beyond their first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the risks are reduced for any complications to pregnant women or their babies as a result of getting a colonoscopy.
Risks Associated With Colonoscopy During Pregnancy
Having a colonoscopy during pregnancy means that women are not only exposed to the same risks as everyone else who gets a colonoscopy, but there are also a few risks they face from having the procedure while expecting as well.
According to the University of Michigan Health, Some of the risks that all people face after the procedure include:
- Abdominal pain
- Poor reaction to anesthesia
Pregnant women also have to contend with complications that come from the anesthesia. Those complications, according to the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health include:
- Decreased blood flow
- Low birth weight
- Birth defects
Given that pregnant women and their babies are closely monitored, the likelihood of any issues from the anesthesia is low. But they do exist. And they should be thoroughly discussed with healthcare professionals before going through any procedure to speak about any concerns present.
Reasons For Colonoscopy During Pregnancy
In order for healthcare professionals to recommend that a colonoscopy be done during pregnancy, there are some serious health issues they are concerned about that need to be addressed.
According to the World Journal of Gastroenterologythose health issues include:
- Lower GI bleed
- Belief that there is a mass in the colon
- Severe and / or chronic diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal pain
Because these symptoms can be indicative of a problem much larger than can be seen by tests and blood samples alone, healthcare professionals may recommend a colonoscopy to determine the source of the problem.
As with all things, healthcare professionals will weigh the risks and benefits of the situation. And if it appears that pregnant women need to have a colonoscopy because their lives may be in jeopardy, that recommendation will be made without hesitation.
Source: WebMD, BMC Gastroenterology, The American Journal of Gastroenterology, Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Michigan Health, World Journal of Gastroenterology