When can I fall pregnant after bariatric surgery?

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This is a common question I have in my clinic after someone has had bariatric surgery, but the answer is yes you can fall pregnant!

We know obesity is associated with reduced fertility, and when women lose weight and are feeling great about themselves often they want to continue with their life plans of having a baby and family.

After bariatric surgery, weight loss will increase your chances of falling pregnant because of improvement in polycystic ovary syndrome, anovulation and irregular menses, thus leading to higher fertility rates. 

It is recommended that you should wait 12-24 months after bariatric surgery before conceiving so that your baby is not affected by your rapid weight loss and also so you can achieve your weight loss goals. 

Losing this weight from your bariatric surgery prior to falling pregnant has so many positives as it will also reduce your risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, cesarean delivery and infections, so it’s definitely worth waiting the 12 – 24 months if you can!! 

A Swedish study looking at births from 2006-2011 from 670 women who did undergo bariatric surgery showed some great results, including a reduced risk of gestational diabetes, and no significant difference in frequency of congenital malformations, however there were some risks you should know about.  This study showed a 15% increase risk of having a small baby, 1% risk of still birth and on average a 4.5 days shorter gestation.  This should not stop you trying to fall pregnant, however be aware of the risk and see qualified dietitians and doctors to ensure you are meeting your needs.

My top tips:

  • See an experienced dietitian in this area to monitor your nutritional status. Protein, iron, folate, calcium, vitamin B12 and D are most common nutrient deficiency’s after Bariatric surgery.
  • Ensure you are a getting adequate carbohydrate in your diet, as not enough can lead to an increased risk of small birth weight.  An Accredited Practising Dietitian will assess your carbohydrate intake to ensure you are getting enough.
  • Wait 18 months, or until your weight stabilizes before trying to conceive. Your body undergoes lots of stressful changes when you are losing weight, so to keep mum and bub safe, it’s best to wait if you can.
  • See your doctors regularly to get biochemistry checked. Even though your risk is reduced, you still need to be closely monitored for high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. 

The bottom line is, yes you can fall pregnant but take precautions not only for bub but also for you, so your weight and pregnancy will run nice and smoothly and you get to enjoy motherhood like you deserve!

Claire WardComment