July 26, 2023

Can you get chemotherapy while pregnant?

Chemotherapy can be an option during pregnancy. Find out how Kaiser Permanente helped a cancer patient navigate chemo while pregnant.

Freeman gave birth to a healthy baby girl thanks to the care they received from a team of specialists.

Four months into her pregnancy, Stephanie Freeman was excited to meet her baby. Then she felt a lump in her breast.

She went in for a biopsy and learned that she had breast cancer.

Her Kaiser Permanente oncologist put together a treatment plan. Morgan Swank, MD, a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine, joined her care team. Maternal-fetal medicine focuses on women with high-risk pregnancies who may have conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.

Our specialists work together to get the best outcomes for both moms and babies.

Expert, compassionate care for mom and baby

Freeman had many questions for her care team. Is chemotherapy during pregnancy even an option? How would she tolerate chemotherapy? And how would her growing baby respond?

“Before I’d ever spoken with Dr. Swank, she called me and reassured me that the baby was going to be fine,” Freeman said. Dr. Swank explained that with certain types of cancer treatment, risks to the baby are small after the first few months of pregnancy.

“Doing chemo while pregnant was really scary. The biggest thing was finding doctors that I trusted who understood that I was pregnant and wanted to keep this baby, and who would make sure she was okay.”

parents with 2 children on a beach

Stephanie Freeman with her husband, AJ, their son, Max (left), and their daughter, Layla (right).

Both mother and baby made it through the cancer treatment and the delivery in good health. More than 4 years later, Freeman is cancer free, and her daughter, Layla, is thriving.

“Layla is growing up beautifully,” said Freeman. “She's dancing, cheerleading, doing gymnastics, riding her bike without training wheels, and swimming without floaties.”

“She is feisty and a fighter, like her mom,” Dr. Swank added. “To go through what Stephanie went through in the pregnancy and what Layla went through  I think the bond they have is pretty special.”

In another milestone, Layla recently became a big sister when Freeman gave birth to a baby boy named Max.

“My husband, AJ, and I feel very lucky that we get to raise our children together,” Freeman said. “I'm looking forward to hitting the 5-year milestone of being cancer-free.”

Learn more about cancer and pregnancy.