Many women wonder if they can safely handle a safe pregnancy after having gastric sleeve surgery. Fortunately, having the gastric sleeve will not impact your ability to get pregnant. Studies show that the procedure may even help you get pregnant and have a baby. This said, there are several things to be aware of when considering pregnancy after gastric sleeve.
Getting pregnant in the first 12 to 18 months after sleeve surgery is dangerous for you and the baby. Contraception is a must during this period through protected sex, birth control pills, patches, or shots to prevent pregnancy.
Can I become pregnant after weight loss surgery?
After any weight loss procedure, including gastric sleeve, you become more fertile. However, you need to wait at least 18 months (1.5 years) before getting pregnant. The first year following gastric sleeve, you should avoid getting pregnant because you’re losing weight too fast and your body must adapt. Your body has to stay in the condition in order to be pregnant.
Which weight loss surgery would allow me to safely have a baby?
Any patient, with any surgery, can become pregnant. Obviously, the more complex the surgery the more complex the pregnancy. In my experience, most patients do very well with any surgery. Gastric sleeve surgery is one of the best weight loss procedures because it doesn’t change the patient’s anatomy. It is purely restrictive, meaning it doesn’t reroute the intestines or cause nutrition deficiencies. In the case of the gastric band, it’s easy to handle, all you need to do is release the pressure of the gastric band and you are safely able to get pregnant.
In the case of other surgeries, like gastric sleeve surgery or gastric bypass surgery, the patient should always get a blood test before becoming pregnant — this to make sure that you do not have any complications or serious nutrient deficiencies. It’s important to wait at least 1 or 1.5 years to decrease the possible risks that can occur with having a baby. Surgeons prefer to have gastric sleeve surgery or gastric banding for younger patients to avoid any malabsorption problems. Many of our past patients have had a baby after gastric sleeve without any complications at all.
Planning for Pregnancy
For some women getting pregnant might have been a problem due to obesity before gastric sleeve. Positive results from the surgery may help individuals to become pregnant. There has been a reported link between bariatric surgery and an improvement in conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in a December 2005 issue.
This can be a positive for those women that want to become pregnant, but can also be a danger for those avoiding pregnancy or those within the first 18 months of post gastric sleeve surgery. Taking extra precautions may be necessary for the initial stages after the surgery.
While you might be excited to get started having children, it is important to remember that allowing enough time to pass after the gastric sleeve surgery is vital. The safest way to become pregnant after the surgery is to weight at least 18 months. The reason for this delay is to allow your body to adjust after the surgery and for the weight loss to come stable.
Avoiding pregnancy within the rapid weight loss portion of the process is essential to the health of the baby and yourself. Due to the rapid weight loss, a mother and unborn child can suffer from malnutrition. Reaching a weight that is stable is crucial to ensuring that the baby and the mother can go through the entire pregnancy with the healthiest start.
Nutrition is Key
While pregnancy is certainly safe and possible after undergoing gastric sleeve surgery, it is essential that a close eye is kept on food. The body of a pregnant woman will always provide the fetus with the nutrients coming into the body first. This means that the baby will be cared for first and then the mother. Since the gastric sleeve surgery decreases the amount of food that can be consumed and stored in the body, it is vital that the food going into the body is healthy and of the most use.
Commonly there are several nutrient complications related to gastric sleeve surgery including a deficiency in iron, calcium, B12, and vitamin D. The best way to ensure that you are getting the right nutrients for you, and the baby is by seeking the help of a nutritionist that has dealt with women in your situation. They can help you to choose foods that pack the most punch and give you and the baby as much as possible. Your physician will also likely prescribe a range of supplements over the standard prenatal vitamins. The provider can check your vitamin levels regularly to ensure you are getting what is necessary for you and the baby. In many cases, women who are pregnant have a reduced appetite due to nausea. The ob-gyn can often prescribe anti-nausea drugs that will help provide relief.
Share Information with your OBGYN
You will want to discuss your prior gastric sleeve surgery with your ob-gyn so that you are on the same page. He or she will want to keep special attention to the growing size of your baby to ensure that he or she is gaining enough weight throughout the pregnancy. It’s important that they keep an eye on how well you are doing along the way to ensure that the baby is growing properly. There may be necessary adjustments to your nutrition plans or extra help from supplements necessary along the way.
When you discover that you are or may be pregnant, you may want to make sure that you find an Ob-gyn that has experience working with patients that have had weight loss surgery. This could help you to get the best care possible while you are pregnant. If you have an Ob-gyn already that you want to stay with, you may need to help them learn from your experience as things go along. Providing them with regular information about your condition and what you are going through could help them to assist better you and to help future patients in similar situations.
Possible Risks and Complications
All woman who becomes pregnant is faced with the risk of several complications including pregnancy-induced hypertension and gestational diabetes. These things happen to all types of women including those that have never had a problem with their weight. Studies show that individuals that have had weight loss surgery develop these complications at the same rate as other women that have not had weight loss surgery.
With this said, individuals that have undergone gastric sleeve surgery may still be overweight at the time of pregnancy. This means that they could be slightly more susceptible to those complications. In some cases, women that have had problems with hypertension or diabetes and had them resolved after weight loss due to gastric sleeve surgery may find the symptoms return.
Mind Over Matter
Women that undergo weight-loss surgery often have some self-esteem issues. This can return once she becomes pregnant. The changes that the body of a woman goes through while pregnant can be difficult for those with body image trouble. Combining the emotions of pregnancy with the feelings of an individual that had dealt with obesity can make for a rocky road. It takes time for the person to get used to and deal with. In addition to the body images that are changed by weight gain during pregnancy, the individual may have scarring from the surgery that shows up more while pregnant.
The worry that is associated with weight gain during pregnancy can be increased dramatically for an individual with a history of obesity. You may find that thinking about the baby before eating will help to adjust judgment. This will provide you with the ability to choose the best foods for the baby when eating.
While most women look forward to having a vaginal delivery, there may be some difficulty with this for those women that have had gastric sleeve surgery. In many cases, this is a safety measure to ensure that the baby is delivered quickly and to avoid any possible complications due to the unusual shape of the stomach. It is a good idea to discuss the delivery process and a delivery plan with the doctor as early as possible. This will help you to both be prepared and for you to educate yourself on what to expect.
Having a baby after you have had weight loss surgery doesn’t have to be a frightening experience. Going into the pregnancy with as much information as possible and working with a team of medical experts that are prepared to help you is essential. Take the process one day at a time and make confident decisions based on what you learn. Whether your pregnancy is planned or you are surprised, having a healthy baby after weight loss surgery is absolutely within reason, and you can even fully enjoy your pregnancy.