Are you thinking about getting pregnant in the near future?
If so, and you have been diagnosed with severe obesity, you may want to postpone things, at least until you are able to achieve and maintain a healthier weight.
Severe obesity is a medical diagnosis that indicates that you have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater.
According to studies, being severely obese makes it more difficult to get pregnant.
The problem has been so well documented that many IVF clinics will refuse to treat women with a high BMI.
The higher your BMI, the greater the risk to your pregnancy.
How high is too high when it comes to BMI?
While there is no magic number, doctors agree that even modest weight loss can impact fertility.
This is where bariatric (weight loss) surgery can help.
Losing up to 80% of your excess body weight with a procedure like the gastric sleeve, for example, can improve your chances of getting pregnant and prevent many birth-related ailments that can harm your child.
Here are some other facts you should know if you are trying to get pregnant and happen to suffer from obesity.
Bariatric Surgery Can Help Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
If you are severely obese, having weight loss surgery can improve your chances of conceiving.
This is due to the fact that obesity causes hormonal deficiencies that can lead to menstrual irregularity and issues with ovulation.
But that’s not all.
You may already be aware that obesity is a leading cause of chronic diseases. Examples include hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and stroke.
For pregnant women, however, obesity can pose an even greater risk.
Obesity is linked with several complications like:
- Preeclampsia: This pregnancy issue affects around 5% of women and is characterized by high blood pressure and damage to the linings of the blood vessels of the brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys, which can ultimately lead to organ failure, coma, and early death. The only cure for this condition is delivery of the child.
- Gestational diabetes: This pregnancy condition is characterized by an elevated level of glucose in the woman’s blood during pregnancy. While serious, the condition usually resolves itself after giving birth.
- Premature birth: This is a birth that takes place at the start of the 37th week of pregnancy or three weeks before the baby’s estimated due date. Babies born that early often have severely complicated medical problems.
Obesity can also cause an increased risk of Cesarean birth and can lead to stillbirth in some cases.
How Obesity Can Affect Your Unborn Infant
Studies show that babies born to obese mothers have an increased risk of developing birth defects like heart defects and neural tube defects, which are birth defects that affect the brain, spine, and spinal cord.
The baby may end up being too large, which can lead to problems during labor and delivery.
Furthermore, babies born to obese mothers have higher chances of developing childhood obesity.
Bariatric surgery can help to improve your health and the health of your unborn baby.
But surgery is not a magic wand.
Weight loss surgery is a tool that can help you reach a healthy weight, which in turn helps the pregnancy stick and can lead a much healthier infant before, during, and after childbirth.
3 Things to Consider Before Becoming Pregnant with Obesity
Your Health Needs to Take Priority: If you wish to become pregnant in the near future, the time is now to start working on your overall health. That includes adopting constructive fitness and nutrition protocols.
The healthier body you have, the healthier your pregnancy and baby will be.
Make Sure You Understand Your Risk Factors: Most patients who undergo bariatric surgery go on to have normal pregnancies. However, if you currently have one or more obesity related conditions like hypertension or type 2 diabetes, your bariatric surgeon can help you understand how these issues may affect your pregnancy.
You should also know that many weight loss surgery patients often see a reduction of their obesity-related conditions post-surgery, or the ailments may go into remission entirely.
Some patients are able to discard the medications they were taking for these afflictions as symptoms no longer manifest upon reaching a healthier weight.
Time Your Pregnancy Correctly: It is common for obese women to experience infertility. Weight loss surgery can help. However, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend that you wait 12 to 24 months before trying to become pregnant after undergoing bariatric surgery.
The reason for this wait period is that it allows for your weight and nutritional intake to stabilize, which decreases the risk of having a baby who is underweight at birth.
Choose Bariatric Surgery for a Healthier Pregnancy
Healthy weight loss following bariatric surgery can reduce the risks and help you enjoy a safer pregnancy.
It helps to talk with your bariatric healthcare team as soon as you get confirmation that you are pregnant so that you get the best advice for caring for your unborn child.
Do your best to find a bariatric surgeon who cares about patient outcomes.
Dr. Moein of Healthy Life Bariatrics makes it a point to follow up with patients for years after their surgeries. Doctors like that are the best bariatric surgeons for soon-to-be-mothers, as they can give you the best advice for enjoying the healthiest pregnancy.
Your care advice should be based on the type of surgery you chose and the time you last had your operation.
If your surgery took place more than 18 months prior, for example, you may only need to follow the typical pregnancy advice, which includes following a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise.
More specific advice will be necessary if your surgery was less than 12 months ago.
Post-Surgery Dietary Concerns
The things you eat after surgery may be different than how you ate before surgery. Because of this, many bariatric surgery patients fear that they are not eating enough to support their baby’s development.
This is not likely, however, as your baby gets what it needs to grow from you. You do not need any additional food in the first two trimesters of your pregnancy. And you only need about 200 extra calories in the third.
Talk to your weight loss surgeon about your diet and any supplements you are taking, and any concerns you might have. Your surgeon can help you ensure you are doing the right thing for both you and your baby.
What Supplements Are Needed During Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery?
Your surgeon will recommend pregnancy-specific vitamins and mineral supplements following your surgical procedure.
For instance, after a gastric sleeve procedure, which is one of the most common weight loss surgeries, you may need a pregnancy specific vitamin and mineral supplements.
You should also be checked at the start of your pregnancy for healthy levels of Vitamin B12, calcium, iron, fat-soluble vitamins, and folate.
What if You Put the Weight Back on During Pregnancy?
This is another common concern of patients who get pregnant following a bariatric procedure.
However, while gaining some weight during pregnancy is normal and expected, you are unlikely to put all the excess weight back on.
If you do gain any weight, chances are you will quickly lose the excess pounds after your baby is born.
Weight gain differs during pregnancy from mother to mother. And many expectant women worry about gaining weight, whether they have undergone bariatric surgery or not.
It’s natural to worry about your weight. Your bariatric surgeon can alleviate your concerns and support you during your pregnancy so that your weight gain is healthy for the baby.
Lifestyle Changes That Can Improve Fertility
After you have undergone bariatrics, you can increase your chances of becoming pregnant by following the lifestyle changes that are expected of you to maintain your healthier weight.
This includes engaging in programs that promote weight loss through nutrition and exercise, which are often part of your bariatric post-surgical care.
Schedule an Appointment to Get Healthy Before Pregnancy
Before you consider trying to get pregnant, address your obesity first.
You can start by contacting Dr. Moein and the team at Healthy Life Bariatrics. Located in Los Angeles, California, Dr. Moein has an excellent track record for helping patients lose weight the healthy way and keep it off for the long-term.
Dr. Moein also follows up with his patients to ensure they are accountable for their weight loss, which further helps to promote lifelong health.
You will become healthier and your baby will have a higher chance of thriving if you choose bariatric surgery before considering pregnancy.
Call Healthy Life Bariatrics at (310)694-4486 and choose the best time to engage in a confidential virtual consultation with Dr. Moein. He looks forward to meeting you.