Weight Loss Surgery and Pregnancy
Many women considering weight loss surgery have questions about getting pregnant after bariatric surgery or how a procedure such as gastric sleeve may affect their fertility. Our team of skilled bariatric surgeons and experienced weight loss professionals have helped many women in the Dallas and Fort Worth area lose weight and go on to start healthy families. If you’re considering weight loss surgery, or if you are a bariatric patient who is considering starting a family, here is what you need to know.
Fertility and Obesity
Obesity can be a contributing factor to infertility for both women and men. Studies show that obesity can negatively affect the hormones that regulate fertility.1 Additionally, women with obesity may find it more difficult to conceive through methods such as in-vitro fertilization due to lower success rates correlating with obesity.2 However, weight loss through bariatric surgery can significantly improve fertility.3
Planning a Pregnancy After Weight Loss Surgery
If you’ve had weight loss surgery, such as gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, you should avoid becoming pregnant for 18 months after your procedure. It is best to give you body time to heal from the surgery and get used to the changes in your body and your new eating habits. Additionally, patients tend to lose the most weight in the first year after surgery, so concentrating on your weight loss by keeping the focus on healthy diet and exercise habits will set you up for lifelong success. Keep in mind that you may experience increased fertility after weight loss surgery, so it’s important to discuss family planning with your partner and talk to your doctor about which contraception methods are best after weight loss surgery.
Nutrition During Pregnancy
Don’t fall into the trap of “eating for two.” You will need to extra nutrients, but your intake shouldn’t double. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that women eat an extra 300 calories during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Here are a few examples of 300 calorie meals or snacks: an apple with nut butter, a small chicken salad, or a cup of low-fat cottage cheese with fruit. Plan meals and snacks that are full of nutrient rich lean proteins and fresh produce. Avoid added sugars and fried foods. Check with your doctor about which vitamins and supplements to use.
Weight Gain During Pregnancy
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) gives the following weight gain guidelines, according to the mother’s pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI).4
- Women with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 (normal weight) should aim for 25–35 lbs.
- Women with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 (overweight) should aim for 15–25 lbs.
- Women with a BMI of 30 or more (obese weight) should gain only 11–20 lbs.
Exercise During Pregnancy
During pregnancy you should be able to continue with any low impact exercises you were doing regularly before you became pregnant. Prenatal yoga classes can be a good option to stay active while easing some of the uncomfortable physical symptoms of pregnancy. Check with your doctor before starting new exercise, or if you have any concerns about your routine.
Many women who have weight loss surgery go on to have healthy pregnancies and deliver with minimal complications. We congratulate all new and expectant mothers and invite you to contact us if you have any questions regarding pregnancy after weight loss surgery.
3 Infertility and Obesity By Karen Sparks, MBE, Julie Janeway, BBA, MSA, JD, ABD/PhD and Steven R. Hendrick, MD, FACS
4 NEJM Journal Watch of the Massachusetts Medical Society December 21, 2012