Real Women: Breastfeeding with an ileostomy

Ileostomy and giving birth can be a complicated match but not impossible!

Here at Lily and Ribbon, we found another relevant real experience to share with you.

Recently, Gemma from @ileostomy.gem took over our stories to talk about breastfeeding her toddler Matilda whilst living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Here we share snippets of her amazing takeover.

How did your breastfeeding journey start?

My breastfeeding journey did not get off to the best start as my daughter Matilda was 100% tongue tied and we relied on nipple shields for the first seven weeks of her life. It’s not something that comes naturally to a lot of babies and it didn't come naturally to me. So, we really had to work for it and now feeding at 21 months is a huge, huge achievement for us.

Tell us about your ileostomy journey...

Once we got into the groove of breastfeeding, I was called for stoma surgery. So, having life changing major surgery when you were exclusively breastfeeding your five-month-old is a bit tricky!

My partner stayed with us overnight in the hospital so he could pass it to me during the night for her feeds. I have an ileostomy, which means I've had all of my large colon removed, and they've brought the end of my small intestine out through my optimal wall. And that is how I go to the loo! It's such a huge life changing thing. I would never ever go back to having my colon and I'm so so grateful for my stoma!

Do you have any tips for breastfeeding with a stoma?

So, my number one tip for breastfeeding with a stoma is hydration. Keep that water bottle with you. Breastfeeding hydrates you and stomas can dehydrate you because you can't absorb water through your colon. After surgery, I had to have lots of pillows along my stomach all along that same side. Probably the trickiest thing now she's a toddler is her little toddler grabby hands trying to pull the bag off, which is just dreading the day it happens!

Gemma is only one in a million mothers out there who faced this struggle, and we hope that her experience will inspire and help as many others as possible.

Moreover, if you would like to share your experience or if you have any queries please feel free to leave a comment and we’ll be more than happy to support you.

For professional advices we suggest you to have a look at these website pages which cover topics such as: Living with an ileostomy, Ileostomy, Pregnancy and breastfeeding and Crohn’s and Colitis UK website.

Hope you’ll find some interesting and useful insights
Lots of love
Lily and Ribbon Team x