A diagnosis of a preexisting condition that can cause concern during pregnancy is not uncommon.
Most of the time, diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common diagnoses. However, up to ten percent of pregnant women are also diagnosed with uterine fibroids. These are abnormal tissue growths inside the uterus, but they aren’t cancerous growths. They’re usually discovered during prenatal ultrasounds. For many women, this is a discovery, while many are aware that they already have this condition.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
This condition is a common one. 40-60% of women over 35 have developed this condition that causes abdominal bulkiness and heavy, painful periods.
Despite how common this diagnosis is, it can still be frightening. Finding out that there is some kind of abnormal tissue growing around your baby isn’t something you want to hear. But what does that mean for your baby’s health?
There have been many studies on women who aren’t pregnant, but studies on how fibroids can affect pregnancy are limited. Thankfully, we know that most fibroids patients will have an uneventful pregnancy and delivery.
If you have a few small ones, it’s not a cause for immediate concern. Generally, the location and number of fibroids are observed. If they’re larger, a physician might monitor for anything that can cause complications during pregnancy.
Most of the time, the risk to a growing baby is low. If your fibroids are larger, physicians will monitor for the following concerns:
- Abnormal placenta: Some fibroids can cause abnormalities in the placenta during implantation over the cervix and placental abruption when it separates from the uterus. A common way to monitor this is by using ultrasounds to check the position of the placenta during pregnancy.
- Fibroid growth: According to a few studies, two-thirds of fibroids can change in size during pregnancy. If the size of the fibroids changes, it might happen during the first trimester. Your physician will use ultrasounds to monitor fibroids’ size and ensure your baby is developing correctly. So far, there isn’t a link between fibroids and fetal growth.
- Breech position: If there’s a risk of the fibroids limiting the space within the uterus, your baby might turn the wrong way and be in the breech position. Ultrasounds can tell you which way your baby is turned. If your baby isn’t in the correct position, your physician might suggest a Cesarean section (C-section) delivery.
- Preterm delivery: Fibroids can stress the uterus, resulting in early contractions or your water breaking early, causing a premature delivery. If you suspect you’re in labor too soon or leaking fluids, contact your physician immediately.
Generally, a physician won’t remove fibroids during pregnancy. However, there are options to remove or shrink them after your baby has been delivered.
How do I Treat Fibroids After Pregnancy?
Natural birth is possible, even with fibroids, and is preferred due to the complications associated with C-sections. Your physician will discuss the risk factors with you, if you have any, during your pregnancy. If your physician deems it necessary, they might schedule a C-section for you.
If you aren’t pregnant, there are many treatments available. However, if you’ve been pregnant recently, your physician might suggest waiting for six months after delivery. This is to compensate for uterine shrinkage. The uterus naturally shrinks after giving birth. Once your body is back to normal, it’s easier to monitor how the fibroids affect you if they still do.
Fibroid removal surgeries require a decent recovery time. After delivering a baby, your body is healing and mentally adjusting to a new routine. A procedure that isn’t an emergency surgery can stress the body out.
Your physician can help you choose the right treatment option for you. There are noninvasive procedures as well as complete uterine removal. Talking to your physician will help you decide what would be best based on what you want and how severe your symptoms are.