When can I plan pregnancy after weight loss surgery?
Bariatric surgery is the most preferred choice for weight loss when diet and exercise are not helping much. It is usually done when the Body Mass Index i.e. the weight to height ratio, is greater than 35. Bariatric surgery is crucial when obesity-related complications like diabetes, PCOS, hypertension, thyroid, cholesterol, etc., become life-threatening. In women, obesity causes issues in pregnancy, since obese women usually develop PCOS or Thyroid dysfunction. Both these conditions deter pregnancy.
Basics of Bariatric Surgery
In Bariatric surgery, the abdomen is adjusted to achieve a low-fat set point or reduce the food intake. It is an effective treatment to keep excess fat away from the body. Post-surgery, one has to change their lifestyle, particularly dietary habits and exercise routine. Women planning to get pregnant should take additional care, and this blog will outline all the details.
Factors contributing to planning pregnancy after a weight loss surgery
The good news is that post-surgery women can see a sudden boost in fertility even if they were suffering from PCOS earlier. After a long time, ovulation and period cycles become regular. The weight that women lose after a weight loss surgery rectifies reproductive and metabolic abnormalities. Pregnancy after weight loss surgery lowers the chances of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia.
But this also means that the newly enhanced fertility will raise your chances of pregnancy. But it would help if you considered the following criteria to enjoy a healthy pregnancy after weight loss surgery:-
Nutritional balance: During the weight-loss period, significant nutritional upheaval is problematic for the baby in the womb. Doctors recommend women wait until 18 months after surgery before conceiving. This safeguards the mother and the child from malnutrition. Research shows that by this period, women reach a stable weight and will be able to provide the baby with enough nutrition. Saying this, everyone has their unique physiology; hence some may have nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy too. B12, iron, calcium, and vitamin D are the most common nutritional deficiencies associated with bariatric surgery. Some are also faced with protein-calorie malnutrition and fat malabsorption. The calorie intake is around 500 after surgery. Such low-calorie intake will not sustain the body; bariatric surgeons recommend extra vitamins to compensate for the effects of malabsorption of nutrients. Nausea during pregnancy also makes it difficult to get the nutrients. If you have lost your appetite due to nausea or can’t keep your food down, talk to your doctor regarding the next steps.
Pick a nutritionist who’s knowledgeable about weight-loss surgery. Inform them of the type of surgery you had and your weight loss journey after that, especially in terms of food intake. Usually, nutritionists recommend eating several small meals throughout the day, which is best for nutrient absorption.
Stable weight: Soon after the surgery, there is a rapid weight loss, which means hormonal changes in the body. It’s in the first year, or a year and a half, when the kilos shed off quickly. Hence, women should wait out this period before planning pregnancy. Getting pregnant within 18 months of the surgery can result in premature birth or small newborns for their gestational age.
Mental and Emotional preparedness: The purpose of weight loss surgery is to lose weight, and you would have invested sufficient time and energy in maintaining your weight. For some women, it can become emotionally stressful to know that they will gain weight during pregnancy. This might lead to the feeling that they will not be able to lose the weight that they have gained during pregnancy. So you must select an obstetrician who has experience dealing with weight loss surgery patients because they will be able to guide you better and prepare you mentally and emotionally for the weight you might gain during pregnancy. If this stress is not handled well, women may go on a diet that would again result in loss of nutrition, or eat too much, which will again result in unhealthy weight.
Discuss all these factors with your bariatric surgeon before undergoing the procedure, and do not rush yourself !!!
What can you do in the meantime?
- Vitamin levels: Check for your vitamin levels regularly and adjust your vitamin intake after discussing with your nutritionist.
- Eat well: Diet after weight loss is crucial since it has to be managed so that you do not gain weight, baby, but at the same time, you get sufficient nutrients. Work with your bariatric surgeon along with a dietitian so that in two years, your body is ready for healthy child growth.
- Be active: Remaining active after weight loss surgery is important from a pregnancy standpoint and for you to maintain a stable weight. Pick any workout which you are comfortable with and make it a part of your life. Exercise not only maintains the lost weight but will also make you feel good.
Dr V Pareek has a multidisciplinary approach, especially if the woman plans for pregnancy after weight loss surgery. Dr V Pareek will give you a realistic picture of your journey toward conception post-surgery. We are available for your service at +91 91-777-77715.