Weight loss surgery is growing in popularity as a choice for people who have struggled with obesity for years. Some age-appropriate women are especially interested in the benefits it may offer in relation to fertility. A study in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing found that women with fertility problems linked to obesity who have weight loss surgery can start ovulating regularly for the first time in years. And if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), your fertility could also get a boost after surgery. A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reported post-surgery weight loss for women with PCOS resolved their metabolic and reproductive abnormalities.
When to get pregnant?
It is important to note that accidental pregnancies can occur if not using adequate birth control after weight loss surgery. Physicians strongly recommend practicing safe birth control for 12-18 months after weight loss surgery because this period of time allows your weight loss to stabilize, your nutritional state to become more balanced and the stressful changes post weight loss surgery to resolve. After this time frame, the potential for maternal and fetal malnutrition and small gestational age infants is greatly reduced and a woman should be able to provide herself and her baby with adequate nutrition.
It is important to closely monitor your nutrient intake. Many women have nutritional deficiencies that can be problematic during pregnancy. The most common nutritional complications associated with bariatric surgery are vitamin B12, iron, calcium and vitamin D. Therefore, after certain types of weight loss surgery, it becomes increasingly important to take additional vitamins to compensate for the way your body no longer metabolizes nutrients.
Educate yourself and your OB
Should pregnancy happen in your future, it will be important to inform your OB at your initial prenatal visit that you have had weight loss surgery and be specific as to which procedure type. This will allow your OB an opportunity to do some research and have the most up-to-date facts for your upcoming care. Be proactive during your prenatal period to keep an open line of communication with your OB to ensure you’re monitored closely for ways to consume the proper amount of calories and to have your vitamin levels checked regularly.
Psychologically, pregnancy can play a tug-of-war with your emotions. After weight loss surgery, you’ve worked very hard to lose excess weight and once becoming pregnant, you’re told to gain weight. It will be important for you to accept your new body image all over again and to realize that ‘now is the time to gain weight for the health of my baby.’ Some women run the risks of extremes-either dieting while pregnant, which leads to serious consequences for the baby or gaining back some of their lost weight because they are eating more food than they need after delivery. It may be helpful to think about the baby before you eat so that you’re thinking about what is best for him/her. Putting the baby’s needs before your own may help to improve your mood, help you to accept you are protecting your baby’s outcome and to move your anxieties away from yourself and your weight.