Can I Become Pregnant After Bariatric Surgery?
Your individual health may play a pivotal role in your family planning. If you want to have children of your own but are struggling to control your body weight, bariatric surgery could be the answer. Along with assisting with weight management, weight loss surgery makes it possible for many women to become pregnant. However, there are a few essential points to understand and a timeline to follow to ensure that you and your baby are safe and healthy if you want to become pregnant after weight loss surgery.
Wait At Least 18 Months
Under appropriate circumstances, women can safely become pregnant after bariatric surgery. Weight management is vital for a woman to have a healthy pregnancy and bear a healthy child. For the safety of both mother and child, wait to become pregnant for at least 18 months after bariatric surgery and until your weight has been stable for at least one full year.
It is absolutely imperative that you follow this counsel and avoid pregnancy during periods of acute weight loss after bariatric surgery. Failure to wait until you are maintaining a stable weight puts both you and your child at severe risk of medical problems and birth defects. Some of these include:
- Neural tube defects
- Low birth weight
- Prolonged neonatal ICU stay
If you are of child-bearing age, you should use an appropriate form of birth control during the initial weight loss period after bariatric surgery even if you were experiencing infertility beforehand. Weight loss can trigger a natural fertility boost that may result in an unplanned pregnancy before the health safety timeline has passed.
Talk with your doctor and ob-gyn about your desire to have children after bariatric surgery. Together you can come up with a plan and timeline to help you fulfill that desire safely and in full health.
Getting Pregnant After Weight Loss Surgery
For a healthy individual, pregnancy can be very safe after weight loss surgery. Your weight may even assist you in becoming pregnant – fertility problems associated with obesity or PCOS may resolve themselves with post-surgery weight loss.
Still, your health and weight loss surgery may affect your pregnancy. Nutritional deficiencies common after bariatric surgery may require you to take vitamins and supplements. During pregnancy, it is even more important to monitor your vitamin levels for your baby’s health. Additionally, bariatric surgery leaves some women with post-surgery nausea that can be exacerbated by morning sickness. You may need to talk to your doctor about anti-nausea drugs that are safe to take during pregnancy.
Lastly, be aware that weight loss does not eliminate your risk of complications during pregnancy (although the risks are significantly reduced). Complications such as pregnancy-induced hypertension and gestational diabetes may still occur. Keep in close contact with your bariatric surgeon and ob-gyn to monitor your health throughout your pregnancy.
Working With Your OB-GYN
While pregnancy after weight loss surgery is increasingly common, many ob-gyns have yet to treat women in this situation. Search for an ob-gyn who has this experience, or be willing to provide your preferred ob-gyn with the information s/he needs. Be sure that your ob-gyn has all the necessary information about your individual health history and bariatric surgery as well.
If you are interested in having children after weight loss surgery, wait at least 18 months and until your body weight has been stable for one full year before becoming pregnant. By following this timeline, you give yourself and your child the best chance for full health. Board-certified bariatric surgeon Dr. Matthew Metz has worked with many women who have become pregnant after major weight loss. For more information about family planning after bariatric surgery, call (720) 851-1610 or contact Dr. Metz online today.