What do I need to know about pregnancy after gastric bypass surgery? Will my baby be able to get enough nutrients?

Answers from Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D.

Pregnancy after gastric bypass can be safe and healthy if managed well by you and your health care provider. 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, and preeclampsia — high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys, after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

If you have had weight-loss surgery and are considering pregnancy, consult your health care provider for preconception planning. You might also consult a registered dietitian along with your gastric bypass surgeon for advice on nutrition and weight gain during pregnancy.

Experts typically recommend postponing pregnancy until your weight stabilizes — typically at least 12 to 18 months after surgery. Some experts recommend waiting longer. Rapid or persistent weight loss might deprive a growing baby of important nutrients, leading to low birth weight. To monitor your baby's growth, your health care provider might recommend a fetal ultrasound during the third trimester.

Depending on the type of weight-loss surgery and your specific nutritional needs, your health care provider also 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.


Shannon K. Laughlin-Tommaso, M.D.

June 17, 2015