There are two categories of bariatric (weight loss or gastric bypass) surgery: restrictive and malabsorptive. Restrictive surgery limits the amount of food you can eat. Malabsorptive surgery changes the size of the intestine itself, which changes the way you digest food and absorb nutrients. There is also a surgery that is a combination of restrictive and malabsorptive. If you become pregnant after bariatric surgery, you will have special nutritional needs that can affect the health of your pregnancy and your baby.
How Does Bariatric Surgery Change My Diet?
The portions of the stomach and intestine that are no longer used after bariatric surgery are where calcium, iron, folic acid, and vitamins B and D are absorbed into the body. You will need to take daily multivitamin supplements of these important nutrients to stay healthy.
You also need to learn to chew your food thoroughly and eat very slowly, because your stomach cannot hold large amounts of food. If you eat too much too quickly, you may feel nauseous (sick to your stomach) and vomit (throw up). You will also need to drink fluids often so you do not become dehydrated.
There is also a condition called ‘‘dumping syndrome’’ that occurs when you eat something too sugary, like candy. Dumping syndrome causes gas pain and diarrhea.
Can I Get Pregnant After Bariatric Surgery?
Yes. In fact, the weight loss after surgery can make it more likely for a woman to get pregnant than it was before she had this surgery. This is especially true if being overweight was part of why she could not get pregnant.
How Soon After Bariatric Surgery Can I Get Pregnant?
Experts recommend you wait at least 12 to 18 months after bariatric surgery before getting pregnant. By that time, your weight loss should have stopped or stabilized (evened out). If you have had bariatric surgery and you are planning to have a baby, it is very important to see a health care provider before you become pregnant.
Things to Consider Before Becoming Pregnant
- Am I meeting my nutritional needs?
- Am I taking a multivitamin regularly before trying to get pregnant?
- Do I have any psychosocial needs or medical conditions to address?
Things to Discuss With Your Health Care Provider Before Becoming Pregnant
- What kind of bariatric surgery you had
- How much weight you have lost and how stable your weight is now
- Any problems you have had since surgery
- The adequacy of your storage of iron, calcium, and B vitamins, especially folate (folic acid)
How Will Bariatric Surgery Affect My Pregnancy?
Before you become pregnant, and a few times during your pregnancy, the following may occur:
- Blood work to check your iron, folate, calcium, and vitamin status. You may need other blood work if you have medical problems or take medications regularly.
- Your health care provider will monitor your weight gain and might ask you to keep a food journal.
- You may be offered additional ultrasound scans to make sure that your baby is developing and growing well.
- Because of dumping syndrome, you might need to use a different form of testing for gestational diabetes.
Symptoms of possible problems during pregnancy that are related to your surgery include feeling sick, throwing up, stomach pain, heartburn, or cramping. If you have these symptoms, be sure to tell your provider and remind him/her that you have had bariatric surgery.