Women's Health: Let's Talk Fertility & Pregnancy Post-WLS

Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN

Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.

If you're considering weight loss surgery, or have recently undergone the procedure, one of your biggest questions may be, "How will this affect my fertility and chances of having a healthy pregnancy?" Weight loss surgery affects many different aspects of your health, and it's important to understand how WLS can impact your ability to conceive and what nutrition concerns are worth considering for both mom and baby. This blog post looks at some common FAQs related to post-WLS fertility and pregnancy so you can be aware of the types of questions you should discuss with your providers.

1) Is it possible to get pregnant after bariatric surgery? Though you might think getting pregnant after bariatric surgery is impossible, the opposite is true. Bariatric surgery and its numerous health benefits have been shown to improve fertility rates in many cases making conception easier than before. However, the precautions bariatric patients need to take as part of their pre and post-pregnancy journey will be a bit different than other expectant moms. As long as these precautions are followed (and health is closely monitored), getting pregnant after bariatric surgery is totally possible.

2) What are the risks of getting pregnant after bariatric surgery? After bariatric surgery, many women can go on to conceive successfully and give birth without any complications. However, as with any drastic medical intervention like WLS, there are also associated risks beyond the pregnancy itself. For starters, mothers who have undergone bariatric surgery may be at risk of delivering a low-weight baby and/or developing hypertension, gestational diabetes, and anemia during pregnancy. As long as you’ve got a great team to help care for and monitor you closely, you can significantly decrease the risks.

3) How long should I wait to get pregnant after bariatric surgery? To ensure that both mom and baby have the best chance of being healthy, experts recommend waiting between 12-18 months after getting bariatric surgery before attempting pregnancy. However, this should be discussed with your OBGYN as they may recommend waiting longer than 12 months. You will also need time to adjust to your post-WLS nutrition needs and recovery. Then, when you do start your family, you can give your children the very best!

4) What are the chances of having a healthy pregnancy after bariatric surgery? While it is generally considered safe to have a baby shortly after the procedure, having a healthy pregnancy requires careful planning and monitoring by your doctor. Your body needs time to heal and adjust to its new size, but as long as you're at a stable weight before conceiving and are closely monitored during the pregnancy, you should be able to have a healthy nine months!

Bariatric surgery can be a great option for anyone prioritizing their health and weight loss, including those who want to improve their chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy. But it's important to consider the risks and effects on fertility and pregnancy when deciding whether or not WLS is the right choice for you. If you are considering bariatric surgery, talk to your doctor and dietitian regularly so you cover all your bases!

BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

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