Bariatric surgery and pregnancy
With a majority of bariatric surgery patients being women, it’s important to understand how the such procedures could affect future pregnancies.
“The good news is that generally pregnancy is safe after any obesity surgery so much so that we often get patients who are seeking the surgery for the purpose of getting pregnant,” said Dr. Allen Mikhail, a bariatric surgeon at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital.
But there are some things women should know before they become pregnant, he said. First, a woman should consult with her doctor about pregnancy, regardless of her health or medical history. And for bariatric patients, the typical guideline is waiting 18 to 24 months after surgery before becoming pregnant, Mikhail said.
“You should wait until your weight stabilizes and to ensure that any vitamin deficiencies have been addressed,” he said.
Once pregnant, a woman with a history of bariatric procedures should also pay careful attention to her eating plan to ensure she’s getting enough nutrients for herself and her baby, Mikhail said. While all pregnant women may need to adjust what they eat, bariatric surgery may affect nutrient absorption, so those patients must be extra vigilant in maintaining close follow up with their bariatric program, he said. Doctors and dietitians can help with suggesting dietary supplements based on labs.
Mikhail added that while concern over nutrient absorption may give some women pause, it’s also important to note that a high BMI is a much greater risk factor in pregnancy.
Maintaining a close relationship with the patient, their provider, and the bariatric program is key to a healthy pregnancy after bariatric surgery.
“When considering pregnancy after weight loss surgery, the main takeaway is that women should always talk to their care team about their own situation and health,” Mikhail said. “Every woman and every pregnancy are different.”
About the Author
Kate Thayer, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care. She spent nearly two decades as a journalist, most recently as a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. Throughout her career, Kate has written about public health, politics, government, education and legal issues, along with human interest stories. She enjoys running, podcasts and her twin daughters.