“Hopes, worries and expectations” experiences of pregnancy with inflammatory bowel disease: An interpretative phenomenological analysis study

Rebecca Homer-Perry, Wladyslawa Czuber-Dochan, Tiffany Wade, Satvinder Purewal, Sarah CE Chapman, Matthew Brookes, Christian P. Selinger, Helen Steed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Aims: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) affects many women of childbearing age. High levels of voluntary childlessness and high levels of pregnancy-related fears have been reported amongst these patients in several quantitative studies. We investigated the lived experiences of pregnant patients to better understand decision-making processes around family planning. Methods: Nine participants between 7 and 34 weeks pregnant (6 Crohn's Disease/3 Ulcerative Colitis), with an age range of 22–39 were recruited prospectively from three United Kingdom hospitals. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and audio recorded. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to interpret the data. Results: Two main themes emerged: 1) IBD is perceived as a threat to family planning; and 2) healthcare professional advice, support, and reassurance was important. IBD was viewed as a potential threat to fertility and reproductive health. Consequently, women's lived experience of pregnancy is shaped by anxiety and pregnancy-related worries for mother and baby. Mothers actively sought out expert medical assurances to alleviate some of the perceived fears. Conclusion: Previous research has repeatedly found that women with IBD exhibit high levels of pregnancy-related worries and anxieties. Our findings find that high levels of anxiety are due to patients’ perceptions that IBD is a threat to their reproductive health and their offspring. Women relied on a medicalized discourse to understand their IBD experiences during pregnancy and actively sought biomedical resources for assistance before and during pregnancy. Consultants should be aware that when dealing with pregnant patients, some women may experience anxiety and require extra support.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31954
Number of pages10
Issue number11
Early online date25 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2024

Data Availability Statement

The data that has been used is confidential


  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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