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Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery

Topic Overview

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery (such as gastric bypass or banding) helps people lose weight. It's only used for people who are obese and have not been able to lose weight with diet and exercise.

This surgery makes the stomach smaller. Some types of surgery also change how your stomach connects with your intestines.

How can the surgery affect your pregnancy?

Weight-loss surgery before pregnancy can: 1

This surgery may increase your risk of having a cesarean section (C-section). 1 But there is some debate about why. It may be that past C-sections increase the risk, rather than the weight-loss surgery. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about your chance of a C-section.

How long should you wait after surgery to get pregnant?

Experts suggest that a woman wait for 1 to 2 years after bariatric surgery to get pregnant. 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.

How will your pregnancy be different after weight-loss surgery?

In most ways, your prenatal care will be the same as for other women. 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.

Some women 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.

What can you do to have a healthy pregnancy?

Making healthy choices can help you have a healthy pregnancy. Eating well and being active 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.

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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised July 23, 2012

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