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Obesity is a common problem across the developed world, including Australia where nearly 30% of adults may be obese. There are many reasons why a person becomes overweight or obese. Leading a sedentary life, eating too much and especially eating unhealthy foods, stress or various medical conditions may all contribute to a high BMI.
Bariatric surgery is a non-invasive medical option which can help people to lose weight when diet and physical exercise are not helpful. In general, bariatric surgery is recommended for patients who have a BMI (Body Mass Index) greater than 35 or 40.
It’s perfectly reasonable for any woman considering a bariatric surgical procedure to question whether the surgery will affect their fertility and future possibilities to conceive and have children. This article answers some key questions about bariatric surgery, fertility and pregnancy.
Pregnancy after bariatric surgery is possible in in many cases is safer and more likely to be successful compared to the pregnancy of an obese woman. However, you should keep in mind that you generally should allow your body a certain amount of time to recover from your procedure before you try to conceive. You also may want to achieve a certain amount of weight loss or other health-related goal that you discuss with your doctor before trying to become pregnant.
Some doctors will suggest a waiting period of at least 12 to 18 months, while others suggest a waiting period of at least 2 years before getting pregnant. Getting pregnant too soon after bariatric surgery could lead to developmental problems for your baby, as this kind of surgery will help you lose weight quickly your growing baby might not get all the nutrients needed.
Obesity is associated with reduced fertility and often conceiving can be quite a challenge if you are obese or overweight, as a result of oligovulation or anovulation. Even if a woman gets pregnant while being overweight and especially obese, there is increased risk for various conditions such as gestational diabetes, hypertension or preeclampsia.
Weight loss is the best way to mitigate the risks of obesity, and bariatric surgery is an effective, relatively safe and non-invasive option. Studies also suggest that after bariatric surgery the menstrual cycles start becoming more regular, ovulation is improved, leading to a greater possibility of conceiving.
The biggest risk when it comes to a pregnancy after bariatric surgery is not getting enough nutrients needed for the mother and for the baby. However, this is a problem easily solved with a proper nutrition plan, which may include vitamin and mineral supplements.
Other risks and possible complications in such cases include anemia, weight gain, low birth weight for the child, and possibly an increased risk of C-section.
In general, prenatal care during the nine months of pregnancy is the same just as for all other women. However, there are a few little differences in a pregnancy after a bariatric procedure.
Consulting with the surgeon who performed your procedure before trying to conceive is recommended, as they will know your medical situation best.
You may also need to take some additional or different supplement vitamins and minerals, to make sure that your growing baby is getting all the nutrients needed.
You can also expect to gain weight during your pregnancy. This is completely normal and healthy. Remember that it is recommended to gain 10 to 14 kg during pregnancy. As long as you eat well and remain active during the nine months of pregnancy losing this extra weight once the baby is born should not be a problem.
Is there a difference when it comes to labour and delivery during a pregnancy that occurs after bariatric surgery? In general, management of labour and delivery after bariatric surgery should be the same as with any other patient. You should also know that while rates of C-section delivery are higher among women who have had bariatric surgery in the past, the surgery is not an indication for C-section and a safe, normal delivery is still entirely possible.
The most important things you can do for your own health and the health of your growing baby during pregnancy is to eat healthily and to be physically active. If you think you may want to try to conceive after surgery, speak to our doctors about the best exercise and nutrition programmes for your needs.
Of course, it’s also important to weigh any of these answers about bariatric surgery against the health, fertility and pregnancy consequences of untreated obesity as well. If you would like to speak to one of the medical experts at Adelaide Bariatric Centre for more information, please get in touch with us today.