Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery: What You Need to Know
If you are considering bariatric surgery, much research should be conducted beforehand. You should also think about what happens next – after the weight comes off, what will you want in your new life? If you’re thinking of getting pregnant after this type of surgery, there are other important facts to know – whether it’s your first pregnancy or your third.
And if you’re worried that pregnancy might not be as safe after obesity treatment, you may be pleasantly surprised: pregnancy after surgery can actually be safer due to fewer complications from obesity.
Wait 12-18 months after surgery
It’s a good idea to wait approximately 12-18 months after surgery to start trying to conceive, so that your weight can stabilize. After weight loss surgery, the size of your stomach and the way your body intakes food are altered, so you should give your body enough time to replace necessary nutrients. During this time, you want to make sure you are eating healthy and that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to produce a healthy baby.
According to Deb Hart, Registered Dietitian for Barix Clinics, a leading bariatric surgery program, paying close attention to your nutrition during this time is key. “It’s a good idea to see a dietitian following surgery, and pay particular attention to your nutrition to ensure your body is getting what it needs.”
Fertility May Be Increased
Research has found that women who experienced fertility issues before surgery actually have an easier time conceiving after because their bodies can start ovulating regularly once again. Because you want to wait at least 12-18 months after surgery to get pregnant, you need to be extra careful with contraception not to get pregnant before your body is ready.
Increased fertility after surgery certainly seems to have been the case with Tabetha A., a Barix Clinics patient who received a gastric bypass in 2007. After 10 years of unsuccessfully trying to conceive, she was delighted to give birth to a healthy baby.
“I had the best surprise of my life since my surgery,” she said.” Approximately 18 months post-surgery, and after 10 years of trying, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child.” She adds, “Without surgery, who knows if I would have ever been able to have a child, let alone keep up with one!”
Monitor Your Nutrient Intake
After bariatric surgery, it is crucial to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle, and part of that lifestyle is making sure that your body is receiving the nutrients it needs. Problems with nutrient deficiencies – the most common concerning iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D –can be very common in pregnant women following surgery.
“Definitely see a dietitian and take all recommended nutritional supplements, and make sure to have your lab values monitored,” Hart suggests. “That way your doctor can help you correct take any nutritional deficiencies.”
Inform and educate your OB/GYN
Although bariatric surgery has become more frequent and popular among women, not all obstetricians have treated patients who have had the surgery. So, if you are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant, you’ll want to inform and educate your doctor (and all of your providers for that matter) early about the surgery. This will give them the opportunity to do their research.
Risk of Complications Drops (But Still Exists)
Since many women remain plus-size to some extent after surgery, there can still be pregnancy risks and complications – they don’t necessarily just disappear – but, that being said, the risks are fewer and less serious.
Body Image Issues
After losing weight and adjusting to your new figure, gaining weight during pregnancy can be stressful. Any scars from the surgery also may become more noticeable during pregnancy. However, the most important thing to remember is that this is the time to eat more so that you – and your baby – are getting the proper nutrients you need. Some women worry about gaining back some of the original weight lost and, as a result, go to crazy dieting extremes. Gaining weight during this time is natural and healthy. The best thing to do is to consult a dietitian to discuss a proper, healthy diet during this time.
Cesarean More Likely
According to an article from BabyCenter.com, pregnant women after weight-loss surgery also find that they are more likely to give birth through a c-section. It is important to speak with your doctor, as all cases are different. In some cases, however, you may be more likely to give birth vaginally by specifically following your doctor’s advice: exercising regularly, gaining the recommended weight, and even taking a childbirth preparation class.
If you do your research, speak with your healthcare providers, and keep a close eye on your diet and nutrient levels, you should have no problem delivering a healthy baby – and returning to your pre-pregnancy weight.
Get your new life started today. For more information about bariatric surgery performed at Barix Clinics, visit www.barixclinics.com.This is a paid partnership between Barix Clinics and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio