Updates in the management of inflammatory bowel disease during pregnancy

Sally J Bell and Emma K Flanagan
Med J Aust 2019; 210 (6): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50062
Published online: 25 March 2019



  • The best pregnancy outcomes for women with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) occur when their disease is in remission at conception and remains in remission throughout pregnancy.
  • Active IBD can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes, including spontaneous abortion, pre‐term birth and low birthweight.
  • The majority of women with IBD who are taking maintenance medication will require medication throughout the pregnancy to prevent disease relapse.
  • Most IBD medications are considered safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding, except for methotrexate.
  • Pre‐conception counselling should be arranged with the patient's IBD specialist and should include discussions regarding the importance of optimising disease control before and during pregnancy as well as the medication management plan for pregnancy.
  • Patients with IBD should be reassured that their fertility is normal when the disease is quiescent, with the exception of women who have had pelvic surgery.
  • IBD activity should be carefully monitored during pregnancy using non‐invasive techniques, and disease flares during pregnancy should be treated promptly with escalation of therapy in consultation with the patient's IBD specialist.
  • Mode of delivery should be determined by obstetric need; however, caesarean delivery is preferred for women with a history of ileal pouch anal anastomosis surgery or active perianal Crohn's disease.


  • Sally J Bell
  • Emma K Flanagan

  • St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, VIC


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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