The best reason to undergo vertical sleeve gastrectomy is because you believe you’re worthy of living a healthy, happy life without the complications of excess weight. Another really good reason is for your family—or for the family you hope to have. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) makes it difficult for many overweight or obese women to conceive, and many of my patients opt for gastric sleeve in Mexico as a way to overcome PCOS and expand their family. The good news is that it usually works, but pregnancy after VSG can be a little different. Here are some things to consider*.
Tip #1: Resume your relationship with birth control. But, isn’t getting pregnant is the goal? As many (many!) patients can attest, fertility can return very quickly, and that’s not necessarily the best thing for your body. Shedding a large number of extra pounds is stressful physically, and adding pregnancy to that fast-loss period adds to that stress. Is it dangerous? Not usually. But to ensure your body is ready to support the healthiest pregnancy, my standard advice is to wait until you’ve reached your personal “healthy weight” (at least 12-18 months after being sleeved) to try for a baby.
Tip #2: You may not gain as much as your non-sleeved peers. Especially if you ignore the tip above or have an “oops” while you’re still shedding weight, the scale may not go up much, if at all. That can be concerning to both pregnant women and physicians who don’t have a lot of experience with post-sleeved patients. On the bright side, little to no weight gain isn’t necessarily a problem. Nicole, who became pregnant seven months after VSG, says she lost 25 pounds during the first half of her pregnancy—though morning sickness played a role. “(The baby) was growing well, so they didn’t consider me as high risk,” she adds. “I only regained about five (pounds).” Ashley, who’s halfway into her second pregnancy, has lost 12 pounds, but says her doctor doesn’t consider that a complication. The key is to monitor your nutrient intake and keep in close contact with your physician.
Tip #3: Do the mental work before baby arrives. Overcoming issues like food addiction and emotional eating is crucial to enjoying success with the gastric sleeve. The best sleeve in the world can’t help if you’re still turning to food for comfort or sabotaging your gastric sleeve diet with junk food regularly. And the worst time to try to overcome these emotional issues? When you’re stressed to the max with a new baby. “If I had it to do over again, I would have addressed my food-as-coping mechanism issues before I had newborns,” says Lindsay. “I gained quite a bit after my twins were born and am working it back off now.” It’s so easy to fall back into bad habits when you’re sleep deprived and running on fumes. To maximize your postpartum health, make sure new, heathier coping skills are deeply ingrained.
Tip #4: Your gastric sleeve diet may need to give a little. Once you’re expecting, the growing baby must become the priority, rather than weight loss. This can be hard for women who’ve worked hard at their weight loss and have a good handle on their gastric sleeve diet. I’m not saying you should swap out broccoli for potato chips and chicken for cupcakes. But your physician may want you to incorporate more whole grains or eat a wider variety of produce than the low-carb-only fruits and veggies you’re used to.
Yes, pregnancy after VSG can be unique in some ways, but whenever and however it happens, chances are that it will work out well. Says Taylor, “I got pregnant four months after on accident… it was perfectly fine. I had a healthy baby boy who is perfect now. I still lost and look great after the baby.”
*When it comes to VSG, we always say that “every body is different.” That’s even more true with pregnancy. So please consult your physician for direction on pregnancy timing and prenatal care.
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