Guide to Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery
Many women of childbearing age who are obese want to undergo bariatric surgery to lose the excess weight. However, there is still a lot of controversy and debate about whether it is safe to get pregnant after undergoing weight loss surgery. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published several guidelines about bariatric surgery and pregnancy, and studies show that some women may experience an increase in fertility after surgery, and that bariatric surgery can have some negative maternal and fetal effects. (Source: Guideline.gov)
Here’s what you need to know about pregnancy after bariatric surgery:
Getting Pregnant After Bariatric Surgery
Many women who are obese need to undergo bariatric surgery for health reasons. Some morbidly obese women are declared infertile, and may be able to improve their chances of getting pregnant by losing the excess weight. Obese women who do get pregnant often experience severe complications throughout their pregnancy, including hypertension, gestational diabetes, fetal distress and preeclampsia. Some of these complications can be prevented when the woman loses weight through bariatric procedures and has recovered completely from the surgery.
In most cases, women who undergo bariatric surgery must wait at least 18 to 24 months to get pregnant. This is especially important for women who have undergone gastric bypass surgery or the duodenal switch procedure, because these procedures cause very rapid weight loss and it can take some time for the body to adjust to the new weight. Bariatric patients also need to make sure that they are getting the nutrition they need to maintain a healthy weight.
Many patients struggle with meeting their nutritional requirements after bariatric surgery because they have to severely restrict the amount of food they eat at any given meal. Women who have nutritional deficiencies after surgery must have these addressed before they can consider getting pregnant.
Bariatric Surgery Adjustments During Pregnancy
Women who do get pregnant after undergoing gastric banding surgery will need to visit their bariatric surgeon regularly to have the band adjusted. The band can be deflated completely for a few months of the pregnancy, allowing the expectant mother to eat whatever she needs to during her term. Deflating the band can also increase the absorption of vital nutrients and supplements, including prenatal vitamins.
Patient who have undergone gastric bypass surgery must still work hard to maintain a healthy weight and avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Losing weight while pregnant is not safe, and some patients can benefit from meeting with a registered dietitian and personal trainer throughout their term so that they are strong enough to carry the child to term. Regular exercise and a healthy diet after gastric bypass surgery will help the expectant mom maintain a healthy weight throughout her pregnancy, and can also lower the risk of complications.
If you want to get pregnant after undergoing bariatric surgery or are thinking about a weight loss procedure during your childbearing years, set up a consultation with a bariatric surgeon in your area.