Should you wait to get pregnant after weight loss surgery?
Pregnancy after bariatric surgery and the link between body mass index (BMI) and pregnancy.
If you are considering weight loss surgery, there are likely many factors going into your decision. First, you want to make sure you qualify for the procedure itself. Next, it’s important to make sure that you’re ready to commit to the lifestyle changes necessary after the surgery.
If you want to become pregnant in the near future, you may be wondering how having a baby fits into the timeline of weight loss surgery. We asked Dr. Richard DiCicco, a weight loss surgeon at HCA Florida South Tampa Hospital, to explain the link between fertility and obesity as well as his recommendations on when it’s safest to start trying to have a baby.
How does obesity affect fertility?
Many factors can affect a woman’s fertility, including age, preexisting medical conditions and weight. If you are considering becoming pregnant, it’s important to sit down with your doctor to talk about your overall health and how this may impact your fertility.
According to DiCicco: “When you're overweight, your estrogen balance can affect the way that you get pregnant, so being morbidly obese may decrease your fertility.” DiCicco continues, “When ladies lose a significant amount of weight, they generally become more fertile.”
When is a healthy time to get pregnant?
If you are obese, one way to improve your overall health and increase fertility is weight loss surgery. While significant weight loss can increase fertility in women, it’s best to wait at least a year and a half after surgery to get pregnant.
“The caution is that the metabolic aspects of surgery really are within the first one to two years with the bulk of it being in the first year. Our goal is to help get you healthier and potentially more fertile, but for you to not have a baby for at least the first 18 plus months after your weight loss surgery,” says DiCicco.
During your recovery from weight loss surgery, you’ll likely make significant lifestyle changes to achieve your desired weight loss and be in a healthier place to carry a baby. During this time, it’s important that your focus is on surgery recovery and weight loss.
DiCicco explains, “Nutritional aspects may not be exactly where they need to be in the early phases after surgery. Also, we want to capture those prime metabolic effects as you're losing the weight before you get pregnant.”
Find out more about what to expect after weight loss surgery.
Surgery recovery and a healthy pregnancy
According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), there are two major reasons why it’s important to wait until after you’ve recovered from surgery to get pregnant. One reason is that women are less likely to experience complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The second is that children who are born after weight loss surgery are at less risk of developing obesity later in life. This is due to certain genes that activate during fetal growth.
Tips after weight loss surgery
According to DiCicco, he recommends women who want to become pregnant after weight loss surgery do the following:
- Take a multivitamin supplementation – whether this is a prenatal vitamin or bariatric strength multivitamin
- Make sure you’re consuming a nutritious diet (a minimum of 1,800 calories a day). Remember, at this point weight loss isn’t the priority. It is to support a healthy baby that’s growing.
- Close follow up with your obstetrician (OB)
If you are considering weight loss surgery and want to know more about how it can affect fertility, it’s important to bring up these concerns when you talk to your weight loss surgeon. They will be able to provide advice and guidance based on your unique health situation and needs. Find a weight loss surgeon near you.