Some 113,000 people have some type of weight loss surgery every year in the United States, according to the National Institutes for Health. While the surgeries are highly effective at combating obesity, what do they mean for women who want to become pregnant following the procedure?
Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning weight-loss surgery and want to become pregnant at some point in the future.
Can I Get Pregnant Following Bariatric Surgery?
Quite simply, yes, you can. It may actually be a little easier to conceive, especially if obesity was the cause of your infertility. To that end, women who are diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (POS) should also consider bariatric surgery as a way to increase fertility. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, weight loss following surgery is the best solution for infertility faced by women with POS.
How Long After Surgery Should I Wait?
Immediately after surgery, your body will experience stress resulting from the procedure. Additionally, weight loss, while ultimately good for you, also puts stress on your body. Therefore, medical professionals say you should wait about 18 months after surgery before trying to conceive.
According to a study published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, waiting for this period of time increases your chances of having a healthy baby. Your weight will have stabilized by that point, and your ability to pass nutrients on to the baby will be maximized.
If you want to become pregnant after having weight-loss surgery, be sure to consult an obstetrician for preconception planning. You’ll likely need to take nutritional supplements such as folic acid, vitamin B-12, iron or calcium. And because of the special diet you must follow, you should also consult a registered dietitian for advice on nutrition during the pregnancy.
What Should I Expect During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, expect to have your blood checked for iron, folate, calcium and vitamin levels. Your doctor will also monitor your weight gain and ask you to keep a food journal. Additional ultrasound scans may be performed to ensure the baby is growing appropriately.
While women who have had weight-loss surgeries might be at an increased risk for internal hernias during pregnancy, obese women stand to risk much more serious complications during pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, premature delivery and low birth weight babies are significant threats during an overweight woman’s pregnancy. The chance of these complications is lessened exponentially during a pregnancy following weight-loss surgery.
There are many factors to consider when getting pregnant following weight-loss surgery. Just be sure to give your body time to stabilize following surgery. Work with a doctor to plan your pregnancy and make sure you’re following his or her recommendations for diet and exercise.