In the last few years, weight loss surgery has become more common and the number of women in their childbearing years having this surgery is rising. Some women may be considering surgery but wonder if they will still be able to have children. The answer seems to be yes.
Studies suggest that pregnancy after weight loss surgery might be safer for both mother and baby than pregnancy complicated by obesity.
Weight loss surgery may help protect obese women and their babies from these health problems during pregnancy:
• Gestational diabetes
• High blood pressure
• Overly large babies
• Cesarean delivery
A recent study even suggests that moms who had gastric bypass surgery and then had children may actually pass on healthier genes. Researchers compared children born to obese women to children born to mothers following weight loss surgery. They found that the children born to mothers following the surgery are significantly less likely to be obese, and they appear to have healthier blood pressures, lipid profiles and metabolic function.
If you are thinking about weight loss surgery, make sure you talk to your health care provider. Surgery is not for everyone and you need to understand the risks and benefits specific to you.
If you have already had weight loss surgery and are considering getting pregnant, here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Since you will lose weight rapidly right after surgery, avoid getting pregnant for 12-18 months after your operation. Rapid weight loss may deprive a fetus of the nutrients it needs to grow and be healthy.
• Talk to your health care provider before you get pregnant.
• Be aware of your need for vitamins and minerals. Weight loss operations can result in low levels of iron, folate, vitamin B12 and calcium. All of these are needed for a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women who have had weight loss surgery may need to take vitamin pills.
• Some women have a type of weight loss surgery that uses a gastric band. This band is used to make a small pouch for food in the upper part of the stomach. If you have a gastric band, speak to your surgeon, preferably before you get pregnant. The surgeon may need to adjust the band for pregnancy.
Although more research is needed, current studies suggest that women who have had weight loss surgery can still have children and having the surgery before pregnancy may be beneficial.