Specialised help for women with IBD to manage safe pregnancies
Pictured: Patient Stefanie and her three children at home.
St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne opened the doors to Australia’s first Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Pregnancy Clinic in September 2017. Since then, the clinic has helped almost 400 patients through a unique model of care, which enables safe pregnancies and healthy babies.
IBD is a collective term for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which impacts over 75,000 Australians at any point in time. Patients at the clinic have access to a variety of unique services, which include free onsite intestinal ultrasound and stool testing for inflammation, which is useful as part of optimal pregnancy care for those with IBD.
The clinic is also dedicated to education and counselling, which improves patient knowledge and anxiety levels. The specialist team monitor drug levels in patients and babies and lead international research to help determine the levels of drugs in mothers’ and babies' systems. They also take the time to discuss and answer any concerns regarding IBD and IBD medications in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Dr Emma Flanagan works alongside Dr Emily Wright and Dr Ralley Prentice, who are all Gastroenterologists with additional training in the treatment of IBD during pregnancy. In addition to this, the patients have access to a specialised nurse, Alyson, who is available five days a week to address any concerns the patients may have between their visits.
One of the clinic’s first patients, Stefanie, was introduced to the service while pregnant in 2017. Stefanie soon learnt that the clinic would play a pivotal role in the safe delivery of her first daughter, Poppy. “They have helped me in every way, shape and form,” said Stefanie.
Stefanie, who has now had three healthy pregnancies - all through the guidance and expertise available at this clinic - shared some of her experience of how having access to these resources helped her during her pregnancy:
“I wish every person who is pregnant or is planning to become pregnant with IBD had access to this clinic. I don’t know what I would have done without it”, said Stefanie.
The IBD Pregnancy Clinic is available weekly at St Vincent’s Hospitals Melbourne’s Fitzroy campus and is also available for regional patients via Telehealth.
Click here to find out more about the IBD Pregnancy Clinic and referral information.