Everything You Need to Know about Pregnancy after WLS

Bariatric Tips

*Trigger Warning: This post discusses pregnancy after WLS, risks that may be associated with it, and other information. If you feel that you are sensitive to these topics, please do not move forward and read this blog post. Sending you a huge hug <3 

Let’s talk about pregnancy after weight loss surgery. I know for many people being able to conceive post-op can be a huge source of motivation on their journeys. However, it can be a bit scary and overwhelming. Not only do we have to consider proper nutrition to support a growing baby, BUT we also have to make sure that we are meeting our needs as a bariatric patient. Not to mention, the thought of actively gaining weight can be overwhelming too. 

Please remember that this blog post is not intended to give or replace medical advice. You should always consult with your doctor and bariatric team before changing your nutrition or exercise regimen. 

How long after surgery can you start trying to conceive?

This is a very common question I get. As always, please make sure you are discussing this with your medical team to ensure you have a safe and healthy pregnancy. 

It is typically recommended to wait at least 1-2 years post-op, or until your weight loss has stabilized. The first 18 months to 2 years post-op is typically when the most weight loss occurs after surgery. 

Not only do you want to maximize your weight loss during this period, but usually in the first 1-2 years post op it is very challenging to meet your baseline needs of protein, water, and vitamins and minerals. During pregnancy, these needs increase in order to support the growth of your baby. It’s important to wait for a period of time to make sure that both you and your baby are as healthy as possible.

Potential Risks of Pregnancy after WLS

It is completely possible to have a healthy and happy bariatric pregnancy. As with any pregnancy, there are some risks associated. After bariatric surgery, some potential risks include: 

  • Slightly higher chance of preterm birth, before 37 weeks
  • Higher chance of your baby being born smaller than average. This can be due to weight loss, nutrient deficiency, or the inability to gain enough weight during pregnancy

Benefits of pregnancy after WLS

There are a lot of potential benefits to conceiving after weight loss surgery. When we are morbidly obese, we have increased risks during pregnancy, which is why Babe you have already done the best thing you could have ever done for your future baby. YOU have taken the chance of getting yourself as healthy as possible! Because of this, some of the potential benefits to pregnancy after weight loss surgery include: 

  • Fewer complications during pregnancy
  • Your chance of gestational diabetes decreases by 50%, meaning your baby has a better chance of being born at a healthier birth weight
  • Your baby may have healthier lab values when born (LDL, HDL, cholesterol, triglycerides), meaning better cardiovascular health from an early age
  • You’re less likely to have blood pressure issues during pregnancy, such as gestational hypertension and preeclampsia 

Bariatric Pregnancy Recommendations & Nutrition

  • Prenatal bariatric multivitamins: Nutrient deficiencies are extremely common for pregnant women post WLS. It is important to take your vitamins and talk to your doctor about the correct amount of vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and micronutrients. Some doctors may say to stick with your bariatric multi while others may suggest switching to a prenatal. Always follow their guidance on this. 
  • Adequate hydration: Sipping on your water throughout the day will be essential! If you struggle to get your hydration needs met, I would suggest having a sugar-free Gatorade or electrolyte supplement in order to boost your hydration. 
  • Continuing to hit your protein goals will still be very important! It’s typically recommended to have a well-rounded diet that includes lean proteins, fibrous veggies, fruits and complex carbs, and healthy fats. If you follow a very low carb diet or keto diet I would encourage you to speak to your doctor about this. Typically carb intake needs to be increased during pregnancy. 

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

Weight gain during pregnancy is extremely important for you and your baby’s overall health. Gaining weight ensures your baby will develop properly and be born healthy. 

One of the things I tell my clients who have had bariatric pregnancies is “growing a whole human is way cooler than losing weight.” And it’s true!!!! Weight gain is absolutely essential for the growth of your baby and for your health. 

The recommended amount of weight gain is determined based on your pre-pregnancy BMI and is something you can discuss with your medical team!

One of the common misconceptions with pregnancy is that you are “eating for two!” And while I suppose that’s technically true… we still need to be mindful of your overall intake. Use your judgment when it comes to additional indulgences. Always coordinate with your medical team, but typically, through the first half of your pregnancy, continuing with your normal eating and exercise routine is recommended (unless of course instructed otherwise). 

Have Grace with Yourself, Babe!

Just because weight gain is essential for pregnancy after weight loss surgery doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. It can be extremely difficult to want to gain weight during pregnancy after having lost a lot of weight through weight loss surgery. Try not to be so hard on yourself for gaining weight during pregnancy, especially since you are creating a life, and added weight gain is crucial to having a healthy baby. 

It is essential to meet necessary protein and nutrient goals during pregnancy. You can always work towards weight loss after your baby is born. If you find you are struggling mentally during or after pregnancy please reach out for help. If you notice you are restricting food intake due to weight gain, I would strongly encourage you to work with a mental health professional throughout your pregnancy journey. You do not have to navigate this alone! 

That’s a Wrap

The journey through and beyond bariatric surgery is intense, but it is so much better when you’re in a community of people who get it. That’s why I created The TRIBE; to connect with and empower people like you!

Check out The TRIBE Membership today; we’re ready to welcome you to the group!

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Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as legal, financial, or medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional advice of your own attorney, accountant, physician, or financial advisor. Always check with your own physician, attorney, financial advisor, accountant, or other business or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.