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Pregnancy After Weight-Loss (Bariatric) Surgery

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Pregnancy After Weight-Loss (Bariatric) Surgery

Overview

What is weight-loss (bariatric) surgery?

Bariatric surgery is surgery to help you lose weight. This type of surgery is only used for people who are very overweight and have not been able to lose weight with diet and exercise.

This surgery makes the stomach smaller. Some types of surgery also change the connection between your stomach and intestines.

Having weight-loss surgery is a big step. After surgery, you'll need to make new, lifelong changes in how you eat and drink.

How can the surgery affect pregnancy?

If you had weight-loss surgery, experts suggest waiting for 1 to 2 years after the surgery to get pregnant.footnote 1 This surgery helps people lose a lot of weight quickly. Getting pregnant too soon after surgery could mean that a growing baby might not get needed nutrients.

Weight-loss surgery before pregnancy can:

  • Help you get pregnant if obesity was the reason you had trouble getting pregnant.
  • Lower your chance of some pregnancy problems. These include high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
  • Reduce how much weight you gain during pregnancy.

It might also reduce your risk of needing a cesarean section (C-section).footnote 2

Prenatal care

In most ways, your prenatal care will be the same as for other pregnancies. But there are a few differences.

  • You may need to keep seeing the doctor who did your surgery. This is to make sure that you aren't having any delayed problems from the surgery.
  • A dietitian may work with you to make sure you're getting the nutrition you need and to help you plan meals.
  • You may need to take extra vitamins and minerals. Weight-loss surgery can make it hard for your body to absorb some nutrients, such as folic acid, calcium, vitamin B12, and iron.

What can you do to have a healthy pregnancy?

Making healthy choices can help you have a healthy pregnancy after weight-loss surgery. Here are two of the most important things you can do.

  • Eat well.

    Talk with your doctor or a dietitian about what to eat and when and how much you can eat after surgery. Keeping a food diary may help you keep track of the types and amounts of food you eat.

  • Be active.

    Swimming and walking are good choices. If you weren't very active before you were pregnant, talk to your doctor about how you can slowly get more active.

Some people may have a hard time with the idea of gaining weight for pregnancy after losing all that weight. Talk to your doctor if this bothers you.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2009). Bariatric surgery and pregnancy. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 105. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 113(6): 1405–13.
  2. Kwong W, et al. (2018). Maternal and neonatal outcomes after bariatric surgery. A systematic review and meta-analysis: Do the benefits outweigh the risks? American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 218(6): 573. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2018.02.003. Accessed February 9, 2023.

Credits

Current as of: May 14, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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