Pregnant Chiarians

I am wondering how it has been for other women with chiari to go through pregnancy. I am almost in my second trimester and the main symptoms have been increased headaches but I’m so happy to be pregnant that they really aren’t so bothersome despite being debilitating sometimes. I have been decompressed twice now and I had the bovine dural patch placed in May. So from a neurosurgery standpoint, I’m cleared for normal delivery but I don’t want to risk the high pressures of childbirth with a normal vaginal delivery. I had such a terrible recovery from my last surgery and everything is finally going so great, I’m afraid that my patch will rupture or something terrible will happen. Would anyone be willing to share their childbirth experiences with me? My regular OB hasn’t experienced a pregnant chiarian so he has sent me to high risk but he did say he would imagine a c-section will be done

Hi St3,

I don't have Chiari, so certainly cannot relate a like experience. I'm just a temporary helping hand here, but would like to congratulate you on soon becoming a mother. When you expressed how happy you are to be expecting I just wanted to wish you a safe and smooth delivery and a lifetime of happiness of being a mom. The only thing better is being a grand parent!

Wishing you and yours my very best,


Hi St3, I also don't have Chiari but I do have a chronic pain disorder, Fibro. While it is certainly different than Chiari, some of the symptoms are similar. I went thru pregnancy / birth with Fibro and I now have a wonderful 10 year old daughter. I can say that personally, it was the BEST thing to ever happen to me. I did have a C-section birth and healed from that just fine. Have you had a chance to talk to your NS about the pregnancy / delivery and any special considerations that might be advisable? I know the NS isn't the birth expert but I would think they have run across this situation before and could have valuable information. And CONGRATULATIONS on your upcoming bundle of joy! There is no other feeling in the world quite like being a MOM. Please keep us updated on how you are doing. Hugs!

Hi St3,


Looking back, my Chiari headaches actually first started when I was pregnant with my 3rd child. While you are pregnant, there is extra fluids in your body to help support the baby’s growth and development. I suggest talking with your NS just to see what s/he recommends. But, having a c-section will most likely be the way to go. It doesn’t have to be a planned one. You can still listen to your body and the baby by going into labor before the c-section happens.

Keep track of your headaches during your pregnancy, frequency and intensity. This may also help your OB to understand how, at least one way, Chiari can affect pregnant women and may make him/her more open to forgoing the vaginal birth and opting for a c-section.

Again, you will have to be your own advocate. But at least this time, you shouldn’t have to fight too hard for the c-section. There are people out there who schedule a c-section for the sheer convenience of having a date picked out. You have a legitimate reason to insist on a c-section. Pushing out a baby is no joke. I remember joking with a nurse when I finally got a good push in with my first, that she should have told me I should push in a way that makes it feel like my head is about to explode. Not pain-wise, more pressure-wise.

Good luck!!

Hi St3,
I do have a chiari (have not had surgery) and I have been pregnant multiple times. (I’ve had pregnancy complications that are not related).
I have had symptoms as long as I can remember but they got WAY worse after actually delivering my children.
I had a vaginal delivery with all three and had an epidural for the first two (as I was still undiagnosed). After having my babies, the pain got a lot worse for me and I have had issues with blacking out during normal daily routine- things like standing up.
During delivery of my first, my blood pressure seriously dropped and I blacked out once.
During delivery of my second, I had a rough time pushing because i could not push the full ten count. (Still couldn’t for third either).
During delivery of my third, I had a REALLY bad headache and I nearly blacked out while pushing again.
If I had it to do over again, I think I would opt for a cesarean (although they are rough too, I’m told). My OB happened to have another pregnant chiari patient at the same time and I am old she delivered normally with no problems. My doctor also told me that she would not feel comfortable ordering any spinal anesthesia, so pain relief was IV only (and in my opinion was worthless) and if I had a cesarean, I would be placed under general anesthesia.
I think this is a highly individualized decision that should be discussed with your doctors, as a team. (Mine had a conference with my neuro).
Best of luck to you for a safe and healthy pregnancy and baby!!

I have three kids - 2 pre-surgery, 1 post. I was mostly symptom free until about 6 mos. after the birth of my first. Symptoms were pretty bad until I got pregnant with my 2nd and all symptoms went away during pregnancy. They came back as soon as I delivered. My 3rd was born post surgery. I had vaginal births and epidurals with all three. We did not discuss anything about Chiari with the 1st pregnancy. For my 2nd and 3rd I had a diff doctor than with first and they were aware and had exoerience with Chiari. We all agreed on a vaginal birth if everything went well and it did. I have big babies - 10.4, 9.9 and 9.5 (I am 5’3" and 125 lbs.) My symptoms did not come back after baby # 3 - he’s 11 now.

Congratulations!! I am in my second trimester of my first pregnancy and doing great so far!! My doctor has expressed that a c-section will be my best option due to the pressure and some chiarians cannot handle having any type of spinal blocks or epidurals done. I have not had any type of decompression surgery at all and am hoping i will not have too. as bothersome as my symptoms have been i was told i had 50/50 chance the surgery would work without causing more harm than good. Your OB and nuero will most likely talk and sort out a birthing plan! Good Luck keep us posted!!

Hi there, congrats on being pregnant:) I have not been but have tried. After talking with my neurosurgeon he told me I should have a c section. I too had a decompression surgery with a dura patch. He said it would be safer if I become pregnant to have a c section because of all the pressure caused during natural child birth. Wish you all the best:)

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I have had 2 children after decompression. I had complications during my first but nothing too crazy. With my second I was in active labor for 5 months. Horrible hip pain and uterine rupture resulting in a premature baby. Unbeknown to me I have eds but didn’t know it and that is why I had these complications. Because my bloodpressure was so low to begin with I had to have 2 c sections.

Hi Brandi,

Sorry to hear about the EDS, we have a nice little group for EDS here on Ben's Friends. You may already be a member, but here is a link just in case.

Wishing you well,


Hi Stephanie,

I have ZERO advice, but we are in our first trimester of first pregnancy as well. I'm only 4 months post-op and this is CRAZY! We're thrilled because we've been trying 4 years, but wasn't planning so soon! I'm also terrified of the pressure from birth causing a rupture, but I'm equally as fearful of the epidural needed for a c-section, as they frequently cause harm to Chiarians. :O! Sorry I can't be more help!

Soooo, now I’m pregnant and looking for advice?! How did it go ladies? I also had a decompression almost exactly a year ago and have a dura patch as well. I contacted my neurosurgeon via email and I don’t meet with my OBGYN for a few more weeks. Thank you ladies!