Cancer and your pregnancy care
A team of specialists will look after you during your pregnancy. This includes your pregnancy doctor (obstetrician) and midwife, and cancer doctors and nurses.
During pregnancy, you will have the usual checks and care that all pregnant women have. But your midwife and pregnancy doctor (obstetrician) will see you more often. They will do more checks, such as ultrasound scans to check your baby's development, as well as your health. They will also work closely with the cancer doctors treating you.
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. Your pregnancy and cancer teams will work together to try and make sure your pregnancy goes to term.
Sometimes your natural labour starts earlier than it should. But sometimes your doctors may recommend delivering the baby early.
Doctors may recommend having your pregnancy care and baby delivered in the same hospital you have your cancer treatment.
Sometimes it may feel as if the cancer and treatment are taking over from your pregnancy. Or you may feel too tired to focus on being pregnant. There are simple things you can do that may help you focus on your pregnancy. They can also help you to bond with your baby:
- Spend a few minutes every day thinking about your baby, for example, think when you are out for a walk or having a bath.
- Talk to your baby – as the baby develops it may start to respond to your voice.
- Keep a journal about your pregnancy.
- Put a scan picture somewhere you can look at it, or set it as the wallpaper or lock screen image on your phone.
Talk to your midwife about any concerns you have about your pregnancy. They can give you lots of helpful advice.
Your doctors may recommend delivering the baby earlier to allow you to start treatment. If the baby needs to be delivered early, you may either have:
- your labour started (induced) earlier
- a planned Caesarean section (C-section).
Talk things through with your doctors and nurses before you decide. It is important to make sure you understand the reasons for their advice. Your doctors, nurses and midwives will give you support.
Babies born before full term are cared for in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) or special care baby units (SCBUs). They are looked after by specialist doctors and nurses.
There are organisations that can support women who have a premature birth, including: