If you are pregnant

Pregnancy and chemotherapy

Your cancer doctor and nurse will explain how pregnancy may affect your treatment. It is important you are aware of the possible risks and benefits to help you make decisions.

Chemotherapy is the commonest treatment given during pregnancy. You can have it after you have reached 14 weeks in your pregnancy. Research shows these babies don’t seem to have problems any different to babies whose mothers did not have chemotherapy.

If you are later on in pregnancy, it may be possible to delay chemotherapy until after the baby is born. If your pregnancy is early and the cancer is fast growing cancer you may be asked to think about ending the pregnancy. This is only when the risk to your health is serious and chemotherapy needs to start urgently. Having to make decisions about continuing with a pregnancy is very difficult. You need lots of support from your family and friends and cancer team.

Women usually stop chemotherapy a few weeks before the baby is born so the blood cells can recover.

If you are continuing with chemotherapy you won’t be able to breastfeed during it. This is because the drugs can be passed to your baby through breast milk.

You should be able to breastfeed a few weeks after chemotherapy finishes. Some women express milk, which can’t be used or kept, so they are still producing milk when chemotherapy is over. Your cancer nurse and midwife will give you advice about breastfeeding.

We have more information about pregnancy and chemotherapy that you may find helpful.

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