Most people know about the difficulty involved in carrying twins to term. It certainly makes sense: after all, the space inside your body is ordinarily just enough for one baby. If you try squishing two in the same space, well, this town isn’t big enough for the both of us.

But what if your fetus is sharing its womb space with another neighbor: a uterine fibroid the size of another fetus? While a lesser known issue, uterine fibroids during pregnancy can cause the same kind of space problem, or other pregnancy complications. Most pregnancies with fibroids do result in a healthy baby and mother, and many progress uneventfully, but it’s wise to be aware of the potential issues.

Abdominal Pain
The same hormones that help your pregnancy progress – progesterone and oestrogen – also fuel fibroid growth, primarily in the first trimester. If they outgrow their blood supply, or if the expanding uterus ends up affecting the blood supply, the fibroid tissue can start to degenerate and die. While that’s not dangerous for you or your baby, it can hurt – a lot.

Typical treatments include bed rest, painkillers and other methods of pain management. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – like ibuprofen) should be taken with caution, and especially if taken for more than 48 hours during the third trimester when it may cause adverse effects for the fetus. Consult your doctor to find out what is safe for you.

Fibroids, especially multiple fibroids or fibroids growing into the upper uterine cavity, can increase a woman’s chances of miscarriage during early pregnancy.

Placental Abruption
If the fibroid is growing near (and especially behind) the placenta, there is a higher risk that the placenta could start to become detached from the uterine wall before the baby is ready to be born. This can cause bleeding and pain and be a threat to the fetus.

Preterm Labor and Birth

“This womb isn’t big enough for both of us.” In later pregnancy, fibroids can increase the chances of preterm labor and delivery.

Need for Caesarean Section
Many factors can contribute to a higher risk of caesarean section among women with fibroids:

  • Prior myomectomy to remove fibroids
  • Fibroid blocking the entrance to the cervix and making vaginal delivery impossible
  • Fibroid causing fetus to be breech or transverse

Take Care of Yourself
If you’re pregnant, that’s wonderful! Some women with fibroids have a hard time conceiving. Now do the best you can to help your baby be born safely. Make sure you eat well and stay hydrated. Take iron supplements to prevent anemia, especially if your fibroids cause bleeding.

If you’re in pain, or have any questions about your condition, make sure to consult your doctor. Go in for regular ultrasounds so that your doctor can monitor the progress of your fetus and your fibroids, and make sure all looks normal.

Finally, a little humor always helps to stay in good spirits. As a pregnant fibroid sufferer once wrote  “To make light of the situation, my hubby & I decided to name the fibroid. (I named it after a former boss from hell!)”