Explore the topic of pregnancy after undergoing bariatric surgery, addressing the top 10 questions and concerns that individuals may have about this unique journey.
If you are considering medical weight loss or tubal legation reversal and have questions regarding getting pregnant after your bariatric surgery or if you have experienced pregnancy and are interested in finding out how long you must wait until you can have weight-loss surgery, you are in the right place! These are questions we hear all the time, and we understand the need for answers to these questions. We have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions regarding bariatric surgery and pregnancy.
1. Should I Get Bariatric Surgery Before or After Pregnancy?
The answer to this question will vary by the patient because it depends upon their BMI and overall health. High-weight women have a higher risk of experiencing complications during pregnancy, such as hypertension, developing preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and difficulties during labor and delivery.
Also the risk for major birth defects, abnormally large newborns, early delivery, or loss of the pregnancy increases as well. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing that losing weight before pregnancy decreases the risks of major birth defects by at least 30%.
2. What Are the Benefits of Having Bariatric Surgery Before Pregnancy?
- Decreases risks that you will experience obesity-related complications such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, labor and delivery complications, abnormal gestational infant size, and stillbirth.
- Losing excess weight increases your ability to conceive.
- Reduction of pre-existing obesity-related health issues will prevent additional problems during pregnancy.
3. What are the Drawbacks of Pregnancy after Bariatric Surgery?
No matter what stage a woman is at in her weight loss journey after bariatric surgery, a pregnancy may throw an emotional curveball in her direction. She may be 18 months post-surgery and have met her target weight. She’s eating healthy and exercising, finally feeling great about herself, and fitting into clothes she could never wear before. She may become anxious that she will lose all the progress she just made and will become a higher weight again.
Inadequate Nutritional Intake
During weight loss surgery the stomach size is reduced and most bariatric surgeries also make changes to the digestive system. These two alterations that occur during weight loss surgery help patients lose weight because:
- The stomach size is smaller so the patient can not eat as much in one sitting.
- The changes made to the digestive system keep the body from absorbing all the vitamins, nutrients, and calories that are ingested.
During pregnancy, your body not only has to provide for you but also for a growing baby. Taking extra supplements is critical because of the smaller stomach size and the body’s inability to benefit from most nutrients and vitamins.
Most of the risks associated with a pregnancy after weight-loss surgery are associated with vitamin, mineral, and key nutrient deficiencies. If you experience deficiencies while pregnant it could result in the baby not developing properly, a smaller baby, pre-term labor, or more. Working closely with your doctor and nutritionist and following recommendations for supplemental nutrients can mitigate the risks of pregnancy complications.
Excessive Weight Gain
Gaining weight is normal and necessary during pregnancy. However, after bariatric surgery, gaining too much weight is counterproductive to your goals. Keeping up with your supplements, eating a healthy diet, and staying faithful to your exercise routine can help keep you from gaining excessive amounts of weight during pregnancy. It is advisable to work with your support system to create a plan that will help you stay safely on track during your pregnancy.
4. How Does Weight Loss Surgery Affect Fertility?
It may seem like a strange concept to think about having surgery to lose weight before getting pregnant where you are going to gain weight. It does make sense when you understand some of the ways obesity messes up the natural order of our bodies.
Did you know that obesity triples the risk of infertility? As women, our bodies require a fine-tuned hormonal balance to keep things running smoothly such as our menstrual cycles. Obesity creates abnormal hormone levels and can lead to polycystic ovarian disease (PCOS), irregular ovulation cycles, and fertility issues. Losing weight can even out these hormone imbalances and surprisingly losing even 5% of your excess weight can help boost your fertility.
Obesity also impacts male fertility by lowering testosterone levels, leading to potential reproductive issues. Research indicates that 30% of couples facing fertility problems have a connection to obesity. Ensuring optimal health for parents significantly increases the likelihood of a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby.
5. How Long Should I Wait After Weight Loss Surgery to Get Pregnant?
When planning a pregnancy after bariatric surgery, timing is very important. Based on statistical data, waiting somewhere between 12 and 18 months after bariatric surgery before getting pregnant would be recommended. The optimum BMI for experiencing a healthy pregnancy is somewhere in the 18.5 to 24.9 range. If your BMI is much higher than this range, then getting it as close to this range as you can before pregnancy will help lessen risks and increase the potential of healthy full-term delivery.
6. What Happens if You Get Pregnant Too Soon after Bariatric Surgery?
The first 12 months, post-surgery is the time of most active weight loss and would not be optimal conditions for the development of the fetus. This may expose both mother and baby to risks associated with obesity, nutritional deficiencies, or both, depending on where the patient is on their weight loss journey. Working closely with your team of specialists, i.e. OB-GYN, bariatric surgeon, and nutritionist, would be necessary to closely monitor your progress during pregnancy, especially your nutritional intake levels. Adjustments in nutritional supplements can be made as necessary to ensure both you and the baby are getting what you need.
7. Is Pregnancy High-Risk after Bariatric Surgery Or Can You Have a Healthy Pregnancy after Weight Loss Surgery?
If you become pregnant after bariatric surgery you are at a higher risk than a woman of healthy weight that has not had bariatric surgery. That being said, the degree of higher risk would be dependent on the mother’s BMI and overall health.
Many women experience uneventful, full-term pregnancies and deliver healthy babies after undergoing bariatric surgery. Not every OB/GYN will fully understand how surgery will affect pregnancy, so if at all possible, choose an OB/GYN who has worked with bariatric surgery patients before.
Also, keep in close communication with your bariatric weight loss team during the entire pregnancy so they can monitor your health as your pregnancy progresses. Your team of experts will help you stay on track and minimize risks associated with deficiencies in bariatric surgery and pregnancy. If your team of doctors feels that you are at a higher risk, they will monitor you continuously throughout the pregnancy and make corrections as needed.
8. Can You Have Weight Loss Surgery While Breastfeeding?
Some doctors may be hesitant to perform surgery on a breastfeeding mother. Typically, weight loss surgery will not affect the composition of your breast milk. However, anything like pain medication or anesthesia introduced to you during your surgery and recovery will pass through to your breast milk. You may be able to freeze enough breast milk in advance to ensure all of the medication has gotten out of your system before you resume breastfeeding.
To ensure the health of both you and your baby, it is crucial to take the recommended supplements. However, it is advisable to complete breastfeeding before considering bariatric surgery. Although it is not impossible to achieve this goal.
9. Is the Post-Bariatric Surgery Diet Going to Be Safe For Me When I am Pregnant?
After weight loss surgery, your diet will be quite different than it was prior. You will even have to drastically adjust the way you eat and even the timing of drinking liquids between meals. After bariatric surgery, maintaining a healthy diet becomes crucial for pregnant individuals. It is essential to diligently consume nutritious foods, alongside vitamins and mineral supplements, to adequately nourish the growing baby. As the baby relies on the mother’s body for its needs, a well-balanced diet becomes even more important.
Pregnant women usually do not require extra food until the last trimester. However, it is crucial to increase calorie intake during this period. To prevent nutritional deficiencies, it is important to collaborate closely with your doctors. They will guide you with a dietary plan, exercise recommendations, and regular monitoring. Blood tests, ultrasounds, and checking amniotic fluid levels will be performed to ensure a healthy pregnancy. By following medical advice, a dietary plan, and taking supplements, you can have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
10. What Kind of Supplements Are Needed When Pregnant after Bariatric Surgery?
There are specific vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly. Bariatric surgery patients are required to take supplements after surgery for life to obtain all they need since they will not be able to get them all from their diet.
During pregnancy, women normally need to take extra vitamins to ensure both mother and baby are getting what they need. Pregnant women who have had weight loss surgery should prioritize taking prenatal vitamins and minerals.
Our bariatric weight loss team will assist in selecting the most suitable supplements and recommended daily intake for you. If pregnancy occurs following a gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, or duodenal switch procedure, periodic blood tests will be necessary throughout each trimester to ensure adequate nutrient levels.
The supplements you will need may include:
- Vitamin B12.
- Vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- Folic acid.
Best Way to Avoid Complications
Many women experience healthy, uneventful pregnancies after bariatric surgery. However, to mitigate risks and avoid complications during pregnancy, it is important to make healthy diet choices. Working closely with a team of doctors helps identify and address potential issues before they become serious.
Contact our offices today for weight loss surgery or pregnancy questions after a bariatric procedure. Our team of experts at IBI Healthcare Institute can address any concerns and provide information on various weight loss options. Reach out to us now!