Life with an Ostomy: Hacks to Living with Your New Stoma

Written By: Lauren Beach

I can’t believe it’s almost been ten years since I woke up in a hospital bed with an ileostomy bag – a day I will never forget. After battling Crohn’s Disease for nearly half of my life, the ostomy bag initially came with a major shock-factor, (this was done via emergency surgery), but with a few years’ experience, some trial and error, and the freedom the bag gave me to start living my life, I began to love my new body. I’ve rounded up a few of my most helpful tips and learnings from life with an ostomy, to help new ostomates adjust to their bags.


  1. I used to think I’d never be able to wear jeans, a bathing suit, or tight-fitting clothing ever again. Boy, was I wrong. At the time, it felt as if the changes in fashion timed up perfectly with my new life with a bag. Nowadays, there are SO many high-waisted styles such as “mom jeans”, full coverage leggings, and one-piece or high-brief bikinis that offer the support and comfort when looking for stylish options to camouflage your bag. In addition, I’ve found a few helpful undergarment sites with things like ostomy wraps or Spanx-like undies to help keep your bag concealed when opting for a tighter-fitting dress or top.
  2. Hydration, hydration, hydration. Looking back to my life pre-ostomy, I found it extremely difficult to keep up with my water-intake. I often felt nauseous due to my Crohn’s and sometimes, even felt like drinking water would add to my seemingly never-ending trips to the bathroom. Flash forward to life without a colon, and water has turned into one of my best friends. I like to always keep an extra-large water bottle with me that is easy to re-fill and helps me stay on track. Your new colon-less body will absorb less fluid, and if you’re like me, you may lose electrolytes through watery output. I also like to mix in an electrolyte supplement once or twice a day to boost hydration and replenish my body.
  3. Chew Your Food. Did you know the digestion process starts the second a piece of food enters your mouth? While having an ostomy has allowed me to eat a wider variety of foods than I could prior to my ostomy, as I am no longer running to the bathroom, it’s also given me a set of watchouts. Without a colon, my body must work a bit harder to digest foods, so it’s important to chew anything a little extra that may be considered more difficult to break down such as raw fruits and veggies. Slow and steady wins the race. I even like to add a few supplements to help balance out the foods I cannot eat in their raw form. That’s where IBD Assist comes in for me.
  4. Time Your Bag Changes. Speaking of food, I’ve also learned to schedule my eating around the time I need to change my ostomy appliance. The same goes for sleeping. I find that if I change my bag first thing in the morning (before I’ve eaten anything), my stoma is less active, thus, less chance for an accident. I also like to make sure I stop eating a few hours before bed and make sure to empty right before I intend to sleep so I do not have to get up in the night.
  5. Always carry extra supplies. I can’t stress this one enough. While having an ostomy has given me my life back (I am no longer worried about not finding a bathroom), I won’t lie and say everything is always glittery with the ostomy all the time. The truth is, leaks can happen. And for me, they usually happen when I least expect it (during the night, when I’m out at a restaurant, or in the middle of the workday). It’s important to always have extra bags and barriers in case you need to change your appliance in a pinch. I like to carry a cute cosmetic case to carry my supplies and always make room for it in my purse. You can never be too prepared!