An exploration of the experiences of women living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and pregnancy

  • Helen Elizabeth Janiszewski

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Approximately 260,000 people are living in the United Kingdom with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). IBD is long term condition affecting the gastrointestinal tract and is an umbrella term for two main conditions: ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease.

    Women living with IBD have a similar fertility rate as the general population, with a quarter of women becoming pregnant after their diagnosis. IBD increases the risk of pregnancy complications including gestational diabetes, preterm birth (<37 weeks), low birth weight babies (<2.5kg at term) and caesarean section.

    A mixed methods study was undertaken to gain an in-depth understanding the experiences of pregnancy for women living with IBD, which encompassed a national online survey and one to one interviews which were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

    The interviews provided qualitative data which was considered to the primary data whilst the survey provided predominantly quantitative data which was considered to be supplementary.

    Four main themes emerged as being important to the women: expectations, control, care and information giving. Women described what their expectations were, which mainly focused on their IBD activity and how these expectations were shaped, with any advice they were given being valued. Control emerged as being important, with a lack of control sometimes having positive effects. Women also described the choices they made and what influenced these and how these were sometimes difficult decisions as opposed to choices. Who women wanted to care for them, and the importance of a trusted relationship emerged, with the struggle for information about IBD and pregnancy detracting from experiences.

    This small novel exploratory study provided in-depth understanding of the experiences of pregnancy for women living with IBD and recommendations about pregnancy care include a national guideline, a national resource for healthcare practitioners and an online training package caring for women living with IBD. It is also recommended further research into the impact IBD disease activity has on preterm birth and pregnancy loss is undertaken.
    Date of AwardDec 2021
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJane Coad (Supervisor), Joanne Cooper (Supervisor) & Gordon Moran (Supervisor)

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