Ali on the Run Show Episode 184: Crohn’s Disease and Motherhood with Natalie Hayden

“This illness is just a small part of me. It’s not all of me. I’m still able to be a mom. And I haven’t allowed my disease to rob me of that. It just gives me strength. It almost makes me feel like a badass some days! It’s not always pretty, but for the most part, I’m doing what I want to do with my life despite my illness.”

Natalie Hayden was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease right after graduating college. She was on track to pursue her dream job as a television anchor, but her inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) diagnosis tried to derail that. After several hospitalizations and a series of bowel obstructions, Natalie underwent major surgery to remove 18 inches from her intestines. But despite the disease’s valiant efforts to keep Natalie down, she has persevered. She went on to become a TV news anchor, just as she’d always dreamed, and she’s a mother to two healthy children. Today, Natalie is a freelance, work-from-home mom who chronicles her life with Crohn’s disease at Lights, Camera, Crohn’s: An Unobstructed View. This is an honest conversation about what it looks like when you have a chronic illness and want to become a mom, and what concerns arose for both Natalie and me in our respective journeys.

Thank you to the American Gastroenterological Association’s IBD Parenthood Project for sponsoring this episode of the Ali on the Run Show! If you or someone you know has inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, go to for support on your journey to and through parenthood.

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What you’ll get on this episode:

  • Natalie talks about her Crohn’s diagnosis (4:30)
  • Natalie talks about moving away from home and pursuing her dream job — with Crohn’s as her sidekick (11:00)
  • How having a chronic illness has affected Natalie’s relationships and marriage (16:50)
  • Natalie talks about her history with bowel obstructions, and her bowel resection surgery (23:50)
  • Natalie talks about her decision to have children, and her concerns about how Crohn’s may affect her ability to get pregnant, have a baby, and be a mom (37:20)
  • To breastfeed or not to breastfeed with a chronic illness? Natalie talks about trying to make the decision that was right for her and her family (45:20)

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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