Obesity is a rising problem in the western world. It is estimated that over one in four women of childbearing age is currently obese. Doctors believe that percentage will continue to rise over the next several years. Obesity makes it harder for women to conceive and also creates the potential for complications during pregnancy.
An increasing number of women who struggle with their weight are turning to bariatric surgery. There are several types of bariatric surgery. Each is designed to effectively decrease the size of the stomach, either by removing part of it or by implanting a band or similar medical device. While bariatric surgery poses its own set of risks for those who want to conceive a child, current medical research shows that conceiving a child after bariatric surgery is safer than conceiving a child while obese.
Some of the more common complications experienced by pregnant women who have had bariatric surgery include:
- Band slippage
- Band migration
- Band leakage
- Spontaneous miscarriage (for the 18 months immediately following bariatric surgery)
Obstetricians and gynecologists recommend waiting at least a year after having bariatric surgery before trying to conceive a child. Roughly one in four pregnancies within a year of bariatric surgery result in complications related to the bariatric surgery. When you do conceive a child, regardless of how long you wait, make sure that your health care providers are aware of your bariatric surgery.
Doctors recommend that women who have had bariatric surgery and want to conceive a child-after the year’s wait, of course-should consult their health care professionals regarding fertility options, nutrition, vitamin supplementation, and weight gain and loss during and following pregnancy.
Doctors stress that the potential effects on conception and pregnancy should not hinder women who struggle with morbid obesity from seeking help through bariatric surgery. The risks of morbid obesity, both to your ability to carry a baby to term and for your own long term health, generally outweigh the potential risks of bariatric surgery.
If you struggle with obesity and haven’t yet undergone bariatric surgery, talk to your doctor about your desire to conceive a child. She will be able to advise you regarding whether bariatric surgery is the best weight loss option for you.