Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery

How will bariatric surgery affect your pregnancy?

Pregnancy after bariatric surgery is an issue that most women grapple with. Though you could diet or change your lifestyle to lose weight before pregnancy, if you are morbidly obese, bariatric surgery is a more viable treatment option.

In fact, studies have shown that bariatric surgery reduces these risks associated with maternal obesity:

  • Miscarriage,
  • Gestational diabetes,
  • Preterm birth,
  • Preeclampsia,
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension,
  • Cesarean delivery,
  • Thromboembolic events,
  • Fetal abnormalities, and
  • Infants too large for gestational age.

Women also experience improvement in their reproductive health. But pregnancy after bariatric surgery can be complicated and should be supervised closely by a doctor. Below are some of the issues you are likely to face if you are trying to get pregnant after weight loss surgery.

Nutritional deficiencies after bariatric surgery

Weight loss surgery procedures alter the digestive system and limit how much food you eat. Consequently, malabsorption of micronutrients and minerals will follow, resulting in nutritional deficiencies. For this reason, after bariatric surgery, you should follow your doctor’s supplementation recommendations before and during pregnancy.

Below are some common nutritional deficiencies:

Iron and folate deficiency

The duodenum is the main site of absorption and when it is bypassed, this reduces the amount of iron and folate absorbed by your body. Reduced acid content in the gastric pouch will also have the same effect.

Calcium and vitamin D deficiency

Calcium deficiency can also result from bypass of the duodenum. Reducing intake of calcium and vitamin D rich foods can also result in deficiency of this mineral.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Taking enough vitamin B12 during pregnancy is important as it will help your fetus to develop a healthy spine and nervous system.Oral absorption of vitamin B12 depends on the presence of intrinsic factor, which is found in the stomach. As partial gastrectomy affects your stomach, getting the procedure will cause lower intrinsic factor, meaning your body will not absorb vitamin B12 effectively. To prevent this, your doctor might recommend non-oral supplements.

How can you prevent pregnancy complications after bariatric surgery

First off, you should delay pregnancy for 12 to 24 months after bariatric surgery in order to maximize weight loss. More so, delaying pregnancy will ensure that any obesity-related complications do not affect you or your growing fetus.

To ensure you and your baby are getting enough nutrients, continue to work with a qualified dietician, your bariatric surgery provider, and a high-risk ob-gyn who is qualified to advise about surgical weight loss procedures. You should also monitor vitamin levels regularly in order to identify and correct deficiencies. Equally important, you should take daily supplements such as:

  • Prenatal multivitamins containing folic acid
  • Calcium citrate with vitamin D
  • Vitamin B12
  • Iron

In conclusion, it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy after weight loss surgery. Research suggests that bariatric surgery causes minimal risk for nutritional and congenital complications as long as you maintain adequate nutrition and follow vitamin and mineral supplementation guidelines. Remember, only take supplements that are prescribed by a doctor to ensure they are safe for your developing baby.

I hope this article was helpful. Let me know.
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