Focusing on your pregnancy

During your pregnancy, you will have regular check-ups with your midwife and obstetrician. They monitor the baby’s development with regular checks and monitor your health. They help you make a birth plan and explain what to expect if the baby needs to be delivered early.

You might worry if the baby is at any risk from the cancer. But for the cancer to affect the baby, cancer cells would have to pass through the placenta. This is very rare, and it is even rarer for cells to spread to the baby. Your cancer doctor or specialist nurse can reassure you about this.

If you feel like the cancer and treatment are taking over your pregnancy, you could try some simple things to help you focus on your pregnancy. They can also help you bond with your baby.

You could try:

  • spending a few minutes each day thinking about your baby
  • talking to the baby
  • keeping a journal
  • putting a scan picture somewhere you can look at it.

Your pregnancy care

During your pregnancy, you will have regular check-ups with your midwife and pregnancy doctor (obstetrician). They will monitor your baby’s development as well as your health, and work closely with the doctors treating you.

You will have the usual checks and care that all pregnant women have. But your midwife and doctor will see you more often and may do more checks to monitor the baby.

You should still have choices about the birth. Your midwife will talk to you about this and help you make a birth plan. Most women will go to full term (over 37 weeks) with their pregnancy and have a normal birth. But sometimes your doctors may advise you to have the baby delivered early.

If the baby needs to be delivered early, you will either have your labour started off (be induced) or have a Caesarean section. Sometimes the baby is delivered early because your natural labour starts sooner than it should.

Before you decide, it is important to talk things over with your doctors and nurses to make sure you understand the reasons for their advice.


Can cancer affect the baby?

One of your main worries may be whether the baby is at any risk from the cancer. If you are worried about this, talk to your cancer doctor or specialist nurse. They will usually be able to reassure you.

Your midwife and pregnancy doctor (obstetrician) will work closely with the team treating the cancer. They will often arrange for you to have more ultrasound scans of the baby to make sure there are no problems.

For the cancer to affect the baby, cancer cells would have to pass through the natural barrier of the placenta. The placenta is attached to the womb during pregnancy. Oxygen and nutrients from your blood supply pass through it to the baby. However, it is very rare for cancer cells to spread to the placenta. It is even rarer for cells to spread to the baby.

Advanced melanoma (a type of skin cancer) is more likely to spread to the placenta than other cancers. But this is still very rare. Melanoma is usually diagnosed and treated early before it has the chance to spread to the blood stream.

If your doctor has any concerns, they will arrange to have the placenta examined after the baby is born. They can check to see whether it contains any cancer cells.


Thinking about your baby

Sometimes it may feel as if the cancer and treatment take over. Or you may feel that you are too tired to focus on being pregnant. There are simple things you can do that may help you focus on your pregnancy and bond with your baby.

Try to spend a few minutes every day thinking about your developing baby. You could do this at the same time as going for a walk or having a bath.

You might also find it helpful to talk to the baby. As the baby develops, it may start to respond to your voice.

Keeping a journal can also help you to focus on your pregnancy.

If you have a scan picture, you could put it somewhere you can look at it, or use it as the wallpaper or lock screen image on your phone.

Talk to your midwife about any concerns you have about your pregnancy. There is lots of helpful advice they can give you.

A pregnant woman with cancer should be treated as a pregnant woman first and foremost.

Mummy’s Star