We get asked time and time again if pregnancy is safe after having bariatric surgery and we are always delighted to answer that it absolutely is. In fact, pregnancy outcomes after weight loss are overwhelmingly positive with far greater ease to conceive in the first place and then a healthier outcome for both mother and baby.
What is bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery includes operations that affect the stomach and how food is digested. It is designed to make the stomach much smaller, which causes the person to feel full after eating only a small amount of food. For most people who have struggled with their weight for years, it can be a life-changing procedure. If you wish to have a baby this could be your final option if time is an issue or all diet & exercise attempts have failed you.
What are the types of bariatric surgery?
There are three common types of bariatric surgery in Australia:
– Gastric Sleeve
– Gastric Bypass
– Gastric Lap Band
Medically referred to as the Sleeve Gastrectomy, this surgery has become more popular than gastric lap band in recent years, and is more commonly performed on those who suffer from morbid obesity. The procedure involves reducing the size of your stomach by 75%, thus restricting the amount of food you can eat to help you achieve good long-term weight loss and unlike the lap band, you don’t have to avoid certain foods.
The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most commonly performed bariatric surgery in the world with around 100,000 procedures being performed each year. An effective surgery where a small stomach pouch is created by stapling which restricts the amount of food able to be consumed. The pouch is joined directly to the small intestine bypassing the unused lower part of the stomach which delays the food from mixing with digestive juices to avoid complete absorption.
This procedure was the first bariatric surgery available and has successfully helped many people lose weight. Gastric Lap Band surgery involves taking an adjustable band and placing it around the upper part of the stomach, creating a small pouch and conversely the lower stomach into a larger pouch. A balloon in the band can then be increased or decreased according to the restriction required. The restriction allows food to enter the upper pouch but delays the release into the lower pouch, giving the feeling of being fuller for longer. The stomach then releases the food into the lower stomach which then allows the natural feeling of hunger to return. This prevents the patient from feeling hungry between meal times and allows normal digestion and absorption to take their natural course.
Pregnancy after bariatric surgery
If you’ve had one of the above bariatric procedures then it’s advisable to wait 12 months to lose weight before trying to get pregnant. This allows your body to heal and recover from the surgery and losing additional weight gives you a better chance of conceiving.
You also may have a certain goal weight in mind that you’ve discussed with your doctor before trying to become pregnant. For this reason, we will discuss your family plans with you before surgery to make sure that waiting this 12 month does not interfere with these plans.
Getting pregnant after bariatric surgery requires adjustments to your diet to ensure that you’re providing the right amount of nutrients for your growing baby. It’s a good idea to take supplementary vitamins and minerals and follow a proper nutrition plan provided by your weight loss team.
The other thing to note is that with bariatric surgery there can be a higher chance of needing a C-section but a safe, normal delivery is still possible. It all depends on how much time has passed since you had the surgery, the amount of weight you’ve lost and your baby’s development.
Get in contact with our helpful team if you wish to conceive after bariatric surgery – we will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have!