What can you tell me about pregnancy after gastric bypass surgery? I'm worried that my baby won't get enough nutrients since I won't be able to eat as much.

Answers from Roger W. Harms, M.D.

It's possible to have a safe and healthy pregnancy after gastric bypass surgery. In fact, research suggests that pregnancy after weight-loss surgery might be safer for both mother and baby than pregnancy complicated by obesity.

Although more research is needed, studies suggest that weight-loss surgery might protect obese women and their babies from obesity-related problems during pregnancy. Examples include gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia — high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Timing is important, however. It's best to avoid pregnancy after weight-loss surgery until your weight stabilizes — typically at least 12 months after surgery. Rapid or persistent weight loss might deprive a growing baby of important nutrients, leading to low birth weight.

If you've had weight-loss surgery and are considering pregnancy, consult your health care provider for preconception planning. Depending on the type of weight-loss surgery and your specific nutritional needs, your health care provider might recommend certain nutritional supplements — such as folic acid, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, iron and calcium — in addition to a daily prenatal vitamin before and during pregnancy.

You might also consult a registered dietitian for advice on nutrition and weight gain during pregnancy.

June 06, 2012