Pregnant with Leukaemia But Not High Risk
Last updated: March 2022
I’ve been in a bit of an odd place with this pregnancy – not that I’ve been pregnant before so this is my first experience, but when I saw those two lines appear, I didn’t think I’d be under the care of two specialists teams alongside the standard midwife care. Not that I mind. It’s been interesting. And I’ve definitely used the knowledge and confidence I’ve learned over the last, nearly 15 years, as a blood cancer patient.
Applying my leukemia experience to maternity
Because I had borderline cancerous cells removed from my cervix in 2015 and they removed a lot of it, I knew that in pregnancy I would need a stitch put in to keep my cervix closed and the baby in. So, I’ve been under the care of the premature clinic since week 16, and at week twenty-something (I can’t actually remember when it was) they put the stitch in. Classic me, instead of it taking 15 or 20 minutes, it was an hour and a quarter. Lolz. When I asked the obstetrician during the procedure how long it had taken and she told me. I laughed and said I should have warned her that my body never does as it should and it’s often more complicated than thought.
Having said that, I should stop saying that as I am very much aiming for a VERY NORMAL, natural, straightforward birth with no interventions. So universe, I hope you are listening!! I was also pretty stoned on some lovely painkillers so I had no idea that the procedure had been going on for that long. I hope that when they take the stitch out at week 36 or 37 it only takes 15 minutes and isn’t a long drawn-out process again. Because the quicker it is, the less anesthetic I have and the sooner it will wear off, and I can go home.
Balancing extra interventions and natural birth
I’ve also been a part of a microbiome study on premature birth which has been really interesting, especially as that ties in with my work as a naturopath. What’s also been great about the premature clinic, is that although I have been there regularly for scans to check my cervix is stable (and a cheeky baby scan and heartbeat listen), they don’t consider me at high risk. And it doesn't change the fact that I am aiming for the birthing center and not the labour ward. Although I have a midwife who is pushing me the labour ward way, but I have pushed back at each appointment and questioned why she wants me to see obstetrics and have other interventions that I don’t need.
Navigating blood cancer and child birth
I know having chronic myeloid leukaemia is scary, but my 20-week scan was perfect, nothing has been flagged in my bloods, the baby's heartbeat is fab and growth is all good. No gestational diabetes and my urine tests are always clear. My weight gain has been fine. I mean, I’ve finally stopped freaking out when I get on the scales (HELLO EXTRA 18 KGS!). And yes, I know there’s more to come in the next few weeks, but I haven’t put on too much or not enough. It’s in a good place. So other than my arguably dormant leukaemia and being 37, I’m super low risk. If I didn’t feel so chilled in hospital settings and happy to question, I think things would be going down a different path. So there are pluses to being a chronic leukaemia patient!
The obstetrics/haematology team is also super happy with where I am and don’t need to intervene with anything and are happy to be on the sidelines and only get involved if my bloods change, which they haven’t, so that’s very good.
Despite cancer, my birth plan can proceed!
The only thing that would put me at ‘high risk’ is if the baby decides to arrive the week I get the stitch taken out if they do that at 36 weeks as the baby would be premature. But the midwife I saw at my most recent appointment, one who I haven’t seen before and was ace, actually asked me about my birth plan and said she didn't see why it couldn't happen. She also said that she makes the labour ward as close to the birthing unit as possible, so if I do end up on the labour ward, I really hope she is on shift!
What blood cancer were you diagnosed with?