Whether you are trying to get pregnant or already are, it’s important to understand what to expect on your journey if you are also living with uterine fibroids. When you’re pregnant, the last thing you want to worry about are potential complications during labor; however, it’s important to know how your fibroids will affect your labor and delivery. During pregnancy, uterine fibroids rarely change size or grow larger.
In a study conducted by the National Centers for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 60% to 78% of fibroids monitored during pregnancy did not change and the ones that did (22% to 32%) only grew a small amount in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy (NCBI, 2010). To preface, most women with uterine fibroids are able to successfully get pregnant and have a healthy baby. Even though fibroids may take up a large amount of space in your uterus most babies are unaffected and are born full term.
In fact, the same study by the NCBI stated that between 10% to 30% of women with fibroids will have complications during pregnancy. In most cases, these complications were not severe. (NCBI, 2010). Although before you are in the delivery room, you’ll want to know how common cesarean sections and preterm labor is if you have uterine fibroids and what to expect when you’re expecting.
What Types of Fibroids Would Affect Labor and Delivery?
First off, it’s important to note that all fibroids are different. If a fibroid grows too large blocking the cervix or fallopian tubes, it may cause a woman to have difficulties conceiving. Similarly, fibroids that protrude into the uterine cavity or change its shape (submucosal fibroids) may cause complications during labor. Large fibroids during pregnancy can also potentially cause complications during labor and delivery.
If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids that are more than 3 inches in diameter, your doctor will want to monitor your large fibroids during pregnancy. Although smaller fibroids (under two inches) are more common, fibroids can grow in response to your hormones. Large fibroids during pregnancy tend to cause more complications than smaller ones, but it still depends on if they protrude inward (submucosal) or dangle (peduncular) within the uterine cavity.
Interested in learning more about your fibroids? The Fibroid Fighters Foundation can help you find a treatment center near you. Contact us online or give us a call at 855.455.5262.
Could Fibroids Cause Complications During Labor?
Depending on your fibroids’ size and location, some fibroids can cause complications during labor. While most women will be able to have their baby full term and vaginally, others may need to have a cesarean section (c-section) or go through preterm labor.
Fibroids and Preterm Labor
Fibroids don’t always cause preterm labor, but there are a few factors that may cause this to occur. One of the main reasons you may have your baby prematurely is if you are experiencing pain caused by your fibroids. This abdominal pain or cramps can sometimes cause uterine contractions, which could result in an early delivery.
It’s important that your doctor knows you have uterine fibroids early on in your pregnancy so you both can have a birth plan set in place in case complications arise. Because uterine fibroids are fairly common, doctors know how to watch for signs in your third trimester.
Cesarean Section and Fibroids
Similar to other complications during labor due to fibroids, it depends on how large your fibroids are and where they are located within your uterus. Fibroids that grow inside the uterine cavity, compared to ones that grow within the uterine wall are more likely to cause issues. According to the NCBI, women with fibroids are at a 3.7-fold increased risk of cesarean delivery.
Even though women with fibroids are at an increased risk for delivering non-vaginally, having a cesarean section and fibroids shouldn’t stress you out. It’s important to note that c-section births with fibroids are typically safe for both mother and baby. With modern medical techniques, doctors are able to perform c-sections easily with very few complications during labor. In many cases, babies can be delivered fvia c-section even while large fibroids are present.
After you have fully recovered from postpartum, your fibroids can easily be treated through nonsurgical treatments like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).
Other Potential Fibroids and Pregnancy Complications
Even with modern medicine, labor and delivery can lead to potential complications. It’s important to be aware of some of the less common fibroids and pregnancy complications such as:
- Miscarriage during pregnancy (usually within the first or second term)
- Placenta abruption (when the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before birth)
- Malpresentation (abnormal positioning of a fetus at the time of delivery)
- Labor dystocia (obstructed path of the fetus during delivery)
- Postpartum hemorrhage (heavy bleeding after the birth)
Thankfully, many of these less common complications during labor due to fibroids can be rectified by modern medical techniques.
Could Fibroids Rupture During Labor?
If you’re worried about your fibroids rupturing during labor, we can put your concerns to ease. Spontaneous uterine fibroid rupture, where the fibroids burst open, during pregnancy or labor is extremely rare. In fact, fibroid bursts in a non-laboring uterus is already rare – less than 10 people have reported this happening in the last decade.
Even as you push a tiny human being out with immense pressure, your fibroids will stay intact within the uterus. In addition, women passing uterine fibroids during vaginal delivery is also a rare occurrence.
Treatment for Fibroids After Delivery
If you’re worried about your fibroids and labor, you shouldn’t be. The first step is to talk with a fibroid specialist before giving birth. Your first ultrasound, usually done between the 6 to 8-week mark, may indicate if you have fibroids. Talking about potential complications during labor caused by fibroids, shouldn’t be a scary subject. Ask your doctor as many questions as possible and let them know any symptoms you may be experiencing along the way.
When you’ve recovered from postpartum, we are here to help you find the right fibroid treatment that fits your individual needs. The Fibroid Fighters Foundation helps women like you find treatment options and centers that can help ease your fibroid pain or bleeding. If you’re thinking that the last thing you want to endure is another hospital stay, we completely understand!
Thankfully, there are nonsurgical treatment options like Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) where you can get fibroids treated in an outpatient setting with no anesthesia or overnight stay. When you’re ready to take the next step to a healthier life, we’ll be here. Feel free to contact us online or give us a call at 855.455.5262.