Is it safe to get pregnant after bariatric surgery?

by | Jun 3, 2019 | Blog

Is it safe to get pregnant after bariatric surgery? In short, yep, it is! But, you can’t just rely on a standard pregnancy multivitamin – you will have to be very careful with what you eat, how you eat it, and what nutritional supplements you take. 

Pregnancy after bariatric surgery 

Bariatric surgery impacts the way that your body absorbs nutrients, and as you’ll have increased nutritional requirements during pregnancy, pregnancy can be a time when nutritional deficiencies show up – and they can impact you, or your baby’s health, so you need to be really careful.

I’ve put together five practical tips that I want you to make sure you do if you’ve had bariatric surgery and are pregnant or trying to conceive.

1. Get a comprehensive blood test

In fact, it is recommended that you get a blood test in each trimester if you’ve had bariatric surgery.  It might be a good idea to see your bariatric dietitian or surgeon to get this done. This needs to be a detailed look at micronutrients, not just the standard blood tests that everyone gets done. Key nutrients that need to be tested include folate, thiamine, vitamin B12, iron, vitamin A and vitamin D. 

2. Get an expert to review your nutritional supplements based on the results of your blood test

You’ll probably need higher amounts of folate, iron, vitamin D, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin B12 than most other pregnant women.

3. Get good advice about your symptoms

It can be confusing as to whether vomiting is just morning sickness, or whether it’s a problem with your surgery… and whether constipation is just your pregnancy, or whether it’s caused by your surgery. Don’t just put your side effects down to pregnancy, but seek expert advice. Let me give you a few tips… a vitamin B6 deficiency can make morning sickness worse, so if you’re feeling sick, try increasing your vitamin B6. If you’re struggling to keep nutritious foods down, try nutritious liquid foods such as a green smoothie, yoghurt or a lentil soup.  If you’re constipated, it could be a sign that you’re dehydrated, or not exercising enough. So, try sipping regularly on a low calorie drink like water with a splash of fruit juice, and make sure you’re doing at least 30 minutes of gentle physical activity each day.

4. Stay away from junk food

Now I know that this may sound obvious, but I’ve worked with a lot of people who’ve had bariatric surgery over the years, and I know, that it can often be more difficult to eat more whole foods as you have to chew more, you often can’t fit as much in, and it can feel like there’s a lot of food wastage when you have to throw out the rest of your meal. Then add exhaustion, morning sickness and a baby taking up room in your belly, and you’ll find a bowl of ice cream or chocolate bar to be very tempting.  But, in the lead up to conception and during pregnancy is the time when you are programming your little one’s epigenetics, and if you want them to avoid going through the same struggles you’ve been through, you need to make the effort.  Make sure you have a good support crew to keep you accountable.

5. Follow a meal plan

It can be hard to get in enough nutritious foods after bariatric surgery, and you can’t just rely on supplements, as you can’t get all of your nutrients from a bottle. Supplements are there to ‘supplement’ your diet, they are not called ‘replacements’ for a reason. So, try to put together a meal plan that suits the types and amounts of foods that you can tolerate and that helps to provide your baby with the best possible nutrients to give him or her the best start in life.

I’m here to help, so feel free to post any questions in the comments box below. And, make sure you check out some of my other videos on Nourish with Melanie to help you know what to eat when you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. 

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