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Bariatric Surgery and Pregnancy

Optimizing Your Pregnancy Journey: How Bariatric Surgery and Proper Nutrition Support a Healthy Pregnancy

Are you considering pregnancy after undergoing bariatric surgery? Wondering how your weight loss journey might impact your ability to conceive or have a healthy pregnancy? Look no further – we’ve got you covered. In this blog, we’ll explore the ways in which bariatric surgery and proper nutrition can support a healthy pregnancy.

Bariatric surgery has become increasingly popular, because, well, it’s awesome! Not only does it help with weight loss, but it can also have significant long-term health benefits. However, it’s important to understand how this surgical procedure may affect your pregnancy journey.

Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting a healthy pregnancy for anyone, but it becomes especially important for individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery. Understanding the dietary guidelines and nutritional requirements specific to your situation can help you navigate your pregnancy with confidence.

Whether you’re already expecting or planning on starting or expanding your family, this blog will equip you with the knowledge you need for a successful, healthy pregnancy after bariatric surgery.

Understanding the benefits of bariatric surgery for pregnancy

Bariatric surgery offers numerous benefits for individuals planning to become pregnant. Firstly, the weight loss achieved through bariatric surgery can improve fertility by balancing hormone levels and increasing ovulation. Additionally, weight loss can reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia.

However, it’s important to note that bariatric surgery may affect nutrient absorption, which can impact both the mother’s health and the baby’s development. Therefore, it is crucial to work closely with your OB and your bariatric team to ensure you are receiving the necessary nutrients for a healthy pregnancy.

Proper nutrition and prenatal bariatric vitamins (they must contain at least 400 mcg of folic acid and 18 mg of iron!) are essential to support your body’s increased demand during pregnancy. Let’s explore the key nutrients you should focus on to optimize your pregnancy after bariatric surgery.

Proper nutrition and its importance during pregnancy after bariatric surgery

Maintaining a well-balanced diet is essential for a healthy pregnancy after bariatric surgery. Your body requires an adequate intake of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals (like calcium citrate)) to support both your own health and the development of your baby.

Protein is particularly important during pregnancy as it plays a crucial role in the growth and repair of tissues. However, after bariatric surgery, your body’s ability to absorb protein may be reduced. Therefore, it is recommended to consume lean sources of protein such as poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, tofu, and legumes. Additionally, it may be necessary to supplement your protein intake with protein shakes or powders recommended by your healthcare professional.

Folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D are also vital for a healthy pregnancy. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in the baby, while iron supports the production of red blood cells and prevents anemia. Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health and the development of your baby’s skeletal system.

Choosing the Right Multivitamin

A crucial step in your post-bariatric surgery routine is selecting the right Bariatric Multivitamin. This supplement should contain essential elements like thiamine (Vitamin B1), folate, and iron. It’s essential to pay attention to the serving size, as this can vary among different formulations. If you opt for a non-bariatric brand, such as NatureMade or Centrum Complete, a standard serving is typically two capsules or tablets per day. At BodyByBariatrics we recommend Celebrate or Bariatric Advantage vitamins! Both of these companies offer a prenatal bariatric multivitamin. If you have any question about serving size, please ask our registered dietitian, Hannah.

Timing Matters

With your Bariatric Multivitamin, consider taking the recommended serving all at once (which might be two tablets or capsules at the same time) or dividing it into separate doses if you find it hard to tolerate. However, be sure to space out the intake of your multivitamin and calcium citrate by at least 2 hours. Calcium citrate is taken in 500 mg doses with vitamin D, three times a day, ensuring proper absorption without interference. Make sure you separate the three calcium citrate doses by at least 2 hours.

Baseline Nutritional Labs

Getting started on Bariatric Multivitamins and calcium citrate is just the beginning. To tailor your nutritional plan to your specific needs, BodyByBariatrics advises undergoing a comprehensive baseline nutritional lab panel. This panel includes vital markers such as iron levels, Vitamin B1, B12, and D levels, PTH, CBC with differential, CMP, TSH, HbA1C, and prealbumin. The results from these tests will guide you and your healthcare provider in identifying any deficiencies that may require additional supplementation.

Addressing Deficiencies

Based on the outcomes of your nutritional lab panel, your healthcare provider may recommend additional vitamins or minerals to address specific deficiencies. This personalized approach ensures that your nutritional needs are met, promoting optimal recovery and long-term success after bariatric surgery.

Key nutrients to focus on during pregnancy after bariatric surgery

During pregnancy, certain nutrients become even more critical for the healthy development of your baby. Focusing on these key nutrients can ensure both you and your baby receive the necessary nourishment.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain development and can be found in fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines. If you have difficulty consuming fish, omega-3 supplements derived from algae can be a suitable alternative.

Vitamin B12 is crucial for the development of the baby’s nervous system and can be found in animal products such as meat, fish, and dairy. However, after bariatric surgery, your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 may be compromised. Therefore, it is essential to monitor your vitamin B12 levels and consider supplementation if necessary. After bariatric surgery, our team at BodyByBariatrics recommends your Vitamin B12 level to be > 500.

Vitamin C is important for the absorption of iron and the development of the baby’s connective tissues. Citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli are excellent sources of vitamin C.

Maintaining a well-rounded diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is key to ensuring you receive a broad spectrum of essential nutrients.

Meal planning and portion control for a healthy pregnancy after bariatric surgery

After bariatric surgery, your stomach’s capacity is significantly reduced, which means you’ll need to adjust your meal planning and portion sizes during pregnancy. Need a customized meal plan? We got you covered! Reach out to us, so we can send you a detailed questionnaire of preferences.

Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day can help manage your portion sizes and ensure a steady supply of nutrients for both you and your baby. Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods that provide a high amount of vitamins and minerals with fewer calories.

Additionally, it’s important to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Avoid overeating and aim to consume meals that are satisfying and nourishing. Remember, quality over quantity is key.

Addressing common concerns and challenges during pregnancy after bariatric surgery

Pregnancy can bring about unique challenges for individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery. One common concern is the fear of weight regain during pregnancy. It’s important to understand that weight gain is a normal and necessary part of a healthy pregnancy. Working with a healthcare professional to monitor your weight gain and ensure it falls within the recommended range can help alleviate this concern. However, you may lose weight during pregnancy, especially if you less than two years post-op. That can be perfectly normal, too.

Another challenge may be ensuring adequate hydration. After bariatric surgery, your stomach’s capacity to hold fluids may be reduced. It’s essential to sip sugar free fluids throughout the day and prioritize hydration, especially during pregnancy when your body’s fluid needs are increased.

It’s also common to experience difficulty tolerating certain foods or experiencing food aversions during pregnancy. Be open to experimenting with different foods and finding what works best for you. Nausea can be exceptionally bad. If you have excessive saliva and a mouth full of spit, you should try to vomit that up. Puke and rally can help get you through the morning (or possibly all day) sickness. Fake it ‘til ya make it!

Recommended exercises and physical activity during pregnancy after bariatric surgery

Staying active during pregnancy is beneficial for both you and your baby. However, it’s important to choose appropriate exercises that take into account your bariatric surgery and the changes your body undergoes during pregnancy.

Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, prenatal yoga, and stationary biking are generally safe options. These exercises help maintain cardiovascular health, strengthen muscles, and reduce pregnancy discomfort.

It’s crucial to listen to your body and avoid overexertion. If you have any concerns or limitations, consult with your healthcare professional or a prenatal fitness specialist who can guide you in developing a safe and effective exercise routine.

Utilizing support groups and resources for pregnant women after bariatric surgery

Navigating pregnancy after bariatric surgery can be an emotional and challenging journey. Joining support groups or seeking out online communities of individuals who have gone through similar experiences can provide a valuable source of support and guidance. Join our private BodyByBariatrics Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery Facebook Support Group.

These groups can offer a safe space to share your concerns, ask questions, and connect with others who understand the unique challenges of pregnancy after bariatric surgery. You may be struggling with infertility and that is very emotionally draining, too.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Reach out to others who can provide the support and encouragement you need.

Embracing a healthy pregnancy journey after bariatric surgery

Embarking on a pregnancy journey after bariatric surgery may require some additional considerations, but with proper nutrition, guidance from your team, and a supportive community, you can optimize your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.

Understanding the benefits of bariatric surgery for pregnancy, focusing on key nutrients, and adapting your meal planning and portion control will help ensure you and your baby receive the necessary nourishment. Addressing common concerns and challenges, engaging in appropriate exercises, and monitoring weight gain are essential steps towards a successful pregnancy journey.

Remember, each pregnancy is unique, and it’s important to work closely with your healthcare professionals to tailor a plan that meets your individual needs. Embrace the journey with confidence, knowing that you have the knowledge and support to navigate pregnancy successfully after bariatric surgery.

Whether you’re already expecting or planning to start a family, prioritize your health and well-being. With the right approach, you can optimize your pregnancy journey and welcome a healthy baby into your life.

Listen to our full DoctorXDietitian podcast episode on all these women’s health issues!


*BodyByBariatrics blog does not replace medical advice. Seek the help of your health care professional if you have questions related to your condition. We strive for patients to achieve healthier, happier, longer lives through weight loss surgery.


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