If you are a woman of child-bearing age who has undergone bariatric surgery, you may now be turning your focus to growing your family. What an exciting time!
Pregnancy and childbirth are generally safer following weight-loss surgery than they are for obese women who do not have the surgery. Weight loss after bariatric surgery has been shown to reduce risk for maternal hypertension (high blood pressure) and gestational diabetes, and possibly increase the survival rate for babies at risk due to maternal obesity. In addition, infertility, hormone imbalances, and other issues can be improved after surgery. There are, however, some things you will want to consider and possibly do differently as you plan for pregnancy after your bariatric surgery.
Resist the Urge to Jump Right In
Due to the ways surgery can change how your body absorbs nutrients, your physician will likely suggest you wait 18 months to two years for your weight to stabilize before getting pregnant. This is the timeframe when many patients experience the biggest amount of weight loss. During this time is also the most difficult period for keeping your body’s nutritional needs in line.
Your bariatric surgery procedure may prevent you from getting the vitamins your body needs solely from the foods you eat. So even after you give your body time to adjust, you will want to make sure you stay on top of any recommended bariatric vitamins both before and during your pregnancy.
Nutritional deficiencies may be more likely with malabsorptive procedures such as gastric bypass and duodenal switch, but studies have found no significant difference in the obstetric and birth outcomes between women who have undergone one type of surgery over another. The point to be made here is that when you do become pregnant, taking some simple extra precautions can help ensure you get all of the nutrients you need for you and baby.
Benefits Go Beyond Your Health
You may understand the many health benefits of bariatric surgery for you, but did you know those benefits extend to your child as well? Compared to pregnancies among obese women, weight-loss surgery prior to pregnancy plays a role in lowering maternal risk of developing gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure). Additionally, it reduces the risk of premature birth, stillbirth and the need for cesarean delivery.
The National Institutes of Health offers some examples of how the life and health of your child may also be impacted by maternal health problems:
- The development of gestational diabetes during pregnancy nearly doubles the risk of childhood obesity.
- Children born to previously obese mothers who had weight-loss surgery may be less likely to become obese themselves.
- Moms who have lost a significant amount of weight after bariatric surgery give birth to babies with fewer heart-health risks as compared to siblings born before surgery.
- Better neonatal outcomes, such as fewer premature deliveries and a lower rate of low and high birth weight.
Enlist the Right Help
Successfully combining a healthy event (weight-loss surgery) with a happy one (pregnancy) takes planning and the proper health care team at your side. At Lee Bariatrics, we have a skilled bariatric surgeon, nutritionists and other professionals on hand to oversee your care and offer long-term support. Your path of first undergoing bariatric surgery to lose weight followed by the pursuit of pregnancy once your weight is down to a healthier level is a smart way to start your life as a mom-to-be.
Call us at 1-888-715-4330 to learn more about your surgical weight-loss treatment options.
The above is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the medical guidance from and discussion with your physician.