Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery
By David Dyer, MD
How soon can I become pregnant after surgery? This is a question that is frequently asked by female bariatric patients in the child bearing years. A reason for this is that many severely obese females are infertile and may not be able to ovulate. These patients may desire children and a family but become frustrated by their inability to become pregnant. For some patients the number one reason for having bariatric surgery is to be able to have children.
We know that with significant weight loss following bariatric surgery, many of these previously infertile females are capable of ovulation and a normal menstrual cycle. Thus, they will be able to become pregnant. We know that pregnancy can be safe following any of the present bariatric surgical procedures. It is important however, to maintain adequate nutrition during pregnancy. We generally recommend that patients consult with their bariatric dietitian as well as their obstetrician during pregnancy for good nutritional health.
That brings us to the optimum timing of pregnancy following bariatric surgery. It is important for patients to understand that they are undergoing a major surgical procedure and major lifestyle changes so they can lose their excess weight and improve their general health. It is important that patients get the maximum benefit of their bariatric surgical procedure.
It is generally recommended that patients wait until 12-18 months after their bariatric surgery prior to becoming pregnant. This amount of time will generally allow patients to achieve maximum weight loss and be in the maintenance phase. It will also generally allow time for significant improvement and sometimes resolution of their obesity related health conditions.
If a patient does happen to become pregnant earlier than 12-18 months following surgery, they can still have a safe pregnancy and a healthy child with careful monitoring. The patient is advised to follow up closely with their bariatric surgeon, dietitian, and obstetrician. Weight loss must stop during the pregnancy since the goal will be to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Based on the patient's BMI at the time of pregnancy, weight gain along with vitamin/mineral supplementation recommendations will be provided. Following delivery or if they choose lactation, they can reestablish their prepregnancy weight loss program.