What to Expect When Trying to Conceive after Bariatric Surgery

pregnant woman talking to a doctor

Any kind of surgical procedure has the potential to put tremendous stress on the body and can lead to major post-surgical physical changes, some expected and some that are surprising. If you've recently had bariatric surgery, you already know that life is very different than it was before your surgery. You eat differently. You dress differently. You behave differently. You make different choices. However, you may not have realized that your fertility may be one of those differences, too.

If you plan to conceive after bariatric surgery, talk to your doctor about what the process may entail. Your body will be drastically altered post-surgery, and if you want to conceive safely and successfully after bariatric surgery, make sure you are armed with all the important information.

How Your Body Has Changed

After bariatric surgery, you may find it easier to conceive than you did before your surgery. Being overweight enough to need surgery affects fertility because most women aren't able to ovulate. Post-surgery, your ovulation cycle may come back with a vengeance. In fact, because of that, most doctors will advise patients to wait at least 18 months before trying for a baby, just to be safe.

doctor listening to pregnant woman's stomach with stethoscope

Another reason doctors advise waiting to get pregnant is because you'll be losing a tremendous amount of weight in a very short time. This can lead to malnourishment for your baby, which is dangerous. When you're pregnant, you and your baby both need a certain amount of nutrients and it's not a good time to cut calories.

What to Watch Out For

Although it goes down the less obese you are, the risk for developing gestational diabetes and hypertension doesn't completely go away. Staying under the care of a doctor is important.

Make sure your OB/GYN is aware of your weight loss surgery when you conceive. You may need a C-section, so it's important to keep your doctor informed. Studies can't pin down why women who have had bariatric surgery have a higher rate of C-sections in birth, but they suspect numerous factors are at play. Staying as healthy as you can with a balanced diet and an exercise regimen may help reduce your chances of needing a C-section. However, be prepared in case your doctor opts to do it.

Facing (Inevitable) Weight Gain

After all you've gone through to lose weight, it's understandable that the last thing you want is to gain it back. However, depending on how much you lose, your pregnancy will lead to inevitable weight gain. Many women struggle with body image issues after bariatric surgery, but it's more important to focus on keeping your baby healthy. Your doctor can tell you more about the right amount of weight to gain in your pregnancy. If you get pregnant sooner than 18 months after your surgery, you may need to slow your weight loss progression down.

It's very important that your weight has stabilized before you conceive. If you plan to try for a baby, let your doctor know. He or she will help you plan out a timeline that is appropriate for you. Also, they will advise you on the right kind of birth control to use in the meantime so you don't run into a situation wherein you're pregnant before you plan to be post-surgery — putting yourself, and your baby at risk.