One of the “side effects” of vertical sleeve gastrectomy is being able to conceive more easily. In fact, a significant percentage of my female patients are referred by their obstetricians for this very reason. But what’s the process of losing that post-pregnancy weight if you’ve been sleeved? It depends on a number of factors—some that are in your control and others less so.
Were you at a stable weight before pregnancy?
Following weight loss surgery in Mexico, we don’t recommend conceiving a baby until you reach a stable weight. That’s usually 12 to 18 months after surgery. However, sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas. It’s actually not uncommon for patients to get a positive pregnancy test within six months of VSG (or even more quickly). We don’t advise it, but it happens. If you’re still in the losing phase of your initial journey, you might not gain much weight during your pregnancy. Which means, of course, you won’t have as much pregnancy-related weight to lose afterward. If you are at a stable, comfortable weight before your pregnancy, you may gain the 25 to 35 pounds recommended for women of normal weight. Don’t compare yourself to the speed or “success” of women who only gained five pounds—or even lost weight—during their pregnancy.
Are you breastfeeding?
Just like you must prioritize your developing baby’s needs in your food and activity choices during pregnancy, you must prioritize your newborn’s nutritional needs if you’re breastfeeding. If you’re not nursing, you can start back on your gastric sleeve diet as soon as your body is healed and feels ready. It’s not that simple for nursing mothers because restricting your calories can interfere with your milk production. Typically, breastfeeding women also report being hungrier (their bodies are, after all, working hard to produce their baby’s food!). Conversely, breastfeeding mothers usually burn hundreds of more calories a day than non-nursing women because of the work their bodies are doing. The truth is that it may be more difficult to lose as much as you want in the timeframe you want if you’re nursing. Please note, however, that your decision about how best to feed your baby should take priority over your weight loss goals.
How is your recovery going?
Every new mother knows that there’s no “normal” for the period right after giving birth. Your birth experience, your support system, whether you have post-partum depression, financial worries—all of these things can contribute to your state of mind. And we all know that you have to be in the right place, mentally, to focus on weight loss. If your emotional bandwidth can’t handle any more right now, please don’t try to add a serious weight loss attempt to your plate. The tools (and your sleeve) will be there when you’re ready.
Tips for tackling the scale
Prepared to jump back into weight loss? Here are a few ideas from your sleeve sisters.
If sweet cravings have followed you from pregnancy into post-partum:
• “For me low-carb helps curb the sugar cravings the best,” says Kimberly.
• “I would look up keto-friendly desserts!” advises Taylor.
• Clementines,” says Carolyn.
If you’re wondering where to start with eating and exercise:
• “Since the birth, I keep my meals and snacks a little healthier, like oatmeal and apples with peanut butter,” says Emma.
• “My best advice would be make healthy choices and eat smaller meals more frequently,” according to Arlene.
• “My son is 18 months and I’m still about 25 pounds up from pre-pregnancy but I have put ZERO effort into losing. It’s just all about you and your dedication,” says Shelli.
• “I know what to do but I make bad choices. Today is a new day and I’m gonna get my water in me and protein,” says Dawn.
As with everything else about VSG, how your body responds to weight loss after pregnancy is very individual. Please work with your personal physician to determine how and when to take steps to resume your gastric sleeve diet and exercise regimen. Just know that, when you’re ready, our staff and your sleeve brothers and sisters are here to support you!
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