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Why Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery is Not a Problem

Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery


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Are you thinking of thinking of having a baby or are pregnant after bariatric surgery? Then this article is for you.

Weight loss is known to enhance fertility and resolve hormonal imbalances, as well.1 Bariatric surgery helps eliminate co-morbidities that can help you conceive if obesity was preventing you from getting pregnant.

It can also reduce the risk of certain problems related to pregnancy, such as:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Preeclampsia

Getting Pregnant After Bariatric Surgery

  • It is not recommended to get pregnant soon after the surgery.
  • One definitely can get pregnant after weight loss surgery but the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says that one should wait for 1 to 2 years after bariatric surgery before conceiving.
  • A pregnancy occurring during a period of malnutrition, like after bariatric surgery, could lead to adverse outcomes such as low birth weight or malformations.2

Why Wait to Get Pregnant After Weight Loss Surgery

Pregnancy After Weight Loss Surgery

  • As there is drastic weight loss right after the surgery, this is the time frame when one cannot really provide nutrition for the baby. The meal plans are very restrictive and the body is going through potentially stressful changes as well.
  • Waiting for 12 to 24 months is a good idea as it will help one achieve their weight loss goals.
  • Conceiving after this time frame will ensure that the fetus is not adversely impacted by the rapid weight loss and is not deprived of nutrients.
  • Conceiving before this time frame would warrant closely monitoring the candidate’s weight as well as the state of nutrition.
  • The Mayo Clinic states that continuous weight loss might contribute to a low birth weight on account of deprived nutrient supply to the fetus.3
  • For this purpose, according to AAFP, a close surveillance will have to be placed on the baby’s growth with a series of ultrasounds.

If you want to become pregnant after surgery or even have a surprise pregnancy after surgery (which happens. . . A LOT!), please reach out to a registered nutritionist to find out good nutritional information to keep both you and the baby as healthy as possible!

  • A 2013 study showed that babies born following a maternal bariatric surgery can be lower birth weight if they do not get the proper nutrition during the gestation period. This could give rise to complications.4

Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery and Weight Gain

Pregnancy can result in some weight gain which can be frustrating after having undergone bariatric surgery. But, with healthy practices, one can always get back in shape within 6 months after delivery. The amount of weight gained will be based on:

  • Weight at the time of pregnancy
  • BMI at the time of pregnancy
  • How far you are out from surgery

Weight Goals and BMI

Pregnant Post WLS

Using current BMI (post-op):

BMI Weight Gain (lbs)
19.8 or lower 40
19.8-26 25-35
26-29 15-25
29 and above Minimum Gain

Remember that after a baby is born, breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your little one; it is also a great way to help moms lose some of the extra pounds.

These days gynecologists have become more aware of the anatomical requirements of bariatric surgery patients.

Women who have undergone bariatric surgery are more likely to have a C-section delivery. The gynecologist will work in collaboration with the bariatric surgeon to avoid unforeseen circumstances.

Nutrition for Pregnant Women Post Bariatric Surgery

In your prenatal stage:

  • You may have to consult a dietitian to ensure all your nutritional needs are met.
  • You may be required to take extra vitamin and mineral supplements after bariatric surgery and mineral supplementation after bariatric surgery as it may make it difficult for your body to absorb certain nutrients, such as calcium, iron, and vitamin B12.5

Gastric surgeries can cause nutritional deficiencies especially because there are a lot of food items that are prohibited and calorie intake is relatively reduced. Keep note of signs and symptoms of malnutrition after bariatric surgery.

It is essential to monitor the health status of the woman every trimester to keep a track of the level of nutrients. At times, supplements may have to be provided intravenously.

Pregnancy After Weight Loss Surgery

Tips on Pregnancy After Weight Loss Surgery

  • Eat small, frequent meals and snacks (at least 5-6 per day) in order to reach calorie and protein goals.
  • Weight gain during pregnancy is completely normal. Do not starve yourself if the scale starts going up.
  • Do not skip meals or planned snacks.
  • Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups.
  • Do not eliminate or severely restrict carbohydrates. Carbohydrate goal is 175 gm. Look below for examples of carbohydrates and gram amounts.
  • Separate consumption of solids and liquids by at least 30 minutes after a meal.
  • Report any persistent vomiting after meals or other significant barriers to meeting the meal plan goals.
  • Keep your doctors informed. Your gynecologist needs to know you have undergone a bariatric procedure.

Examples of 15 Grams of Carbohydrate or 1 Serving

Diet for Pregnancy Post Bariatric Surgery

  • Baseball size piece of fruit (apple, orange, peach, etc.)
  • 8 oz milk or 6oz of reduced sugar yogurt
  • 1 slice of whole wheat bread
  • 3/4 cup of cheerios
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened dried fruit

Weight Loss Surgery and Pregnancy Tests

  1. Blood test– Women with a history of weight loss surgery will have to undergo blood tests more frequently for a regular checkup of nutrients such as protein, calcium, iron, ferritin, etc. and blood count.
  2. Glucose test– The liquid administered to examine glucose levels cannot be tolerated by women with altered stomachs. Therefore, such tests might not be performed on them. As mentioned by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)6, an alternative to this is home glucose monitoring.

“I know too many folks that have had kids after their bariatric surgery. Actually, it seems to improve fertility.” – Tasha T. (A Mexico Bariatric Services Client)

Our Clients’ Experience with Pregnancy Post Gastric Sleeve and Bypass

  • Many of our clients have been successful in becoming pregnant post-surgery.
  • On an average, they waited for approximately one and half a year to get pregnant. Some of them have also delivered healthy babies after getting pregnant 12 weeks post-op.
  • Most of them were able to maintain their weight through a healthy lifestyle.

References

  1. Karin Schindler, Felix Langer et al. “Management of Pregnant Women after Bariatric SurgeryJournal of Obesity 2018 (3)
  2. Michelle A. Kominiareak “Preparing for and Managing a Pregnancy After Bariatric SurgerySemin Perinatol (2011); 35(6): 356-361
  3. Tobah, Yvonne Butler. Getting pregnant – What do I need to know about pregnancy after gastric bypass surgery? Will my baby be able to get enough nutrients?
  4. Mette Mandrup Kjae, Jeannet Lauenborg et al. “The risk of adverse pregnancy outcome after bariatric surgery: A nationwide register-based matched cohort studyAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2013(6) 464.e1-464.e5
  5. Christopher Slater, Lauren Morris et al. “Nutrition in Pregnancy Following Bariatric SurgeryNutrition 2017 Dec; 9(12): 1338
  6. Carrie Armstrong. “ACOG Guidelines on Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery.AAFP – American Family Physician, 2010.
  • Is it safe to get pregnant after bariatric surgery?
  • Complications from pregnancy after bariatric surgery
  • Pregnancy after gastric sleeve or bypass
  • Forum for pregnancy after Weight Loss Surgery
Updated on December 1, 2018

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