It’s been established that being obese during pregnancy can come with some risks to your health and your child’s. But, did you know that some research has found that bariatric surgery is promising in reducing the risks of obesity-related birth complications? There are quite a few reasons why weight loss surgery is the best option if you’re looking to reduce risks and have a successful and healthy pregnancy later on. Here’s some of the latest in research about the benefits of bariatric surgery and pregnancy.
Obesity and Pregnancy
Obesity during pregnancy is a growing concern and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 45 percent of women in the US are at a healthy weight before getting pregnant. Additionally, the number of women who were obese at the start of their pregnancy increased by 8 percent by 2015, and this number is only increasing. In short, it’s highly important to study obesity and its effects on pregnancy, since the number of women and children affected by this is growing.
What does the research say?
Obesity is associated with many labor and delivery complications, like induction of labor and a prolonged labor, a cesarean delivery, as well as postpartum hemorrhage. Obesity also seems to be a significant reason for the rising maternal mortality rates in the country. When obese, women have an increased insulin resistance during early pregnancy, which may result in a large fetus in later pregnancy. This increases the risk for a cesarean section and also adds to early placental and fetal dysfunction, which increases the risk of birth complications and infant mortality.
A study was done on about 6,000 women and it showed that bariatric surgery led to fewer complications during childbirth, including cesarean sections, tears, infection, hemorrhage, and post-term delivery.
During another study, the deliveries of 1,400 women who had undergone bariatric surgery was compared to about 4,500 women who had not had this surgery. The women who had undergone bariatric surgery had lost a considerable amount of weight before getting pregnant. The study proved that women who had lost weight with a weight loss surgery had benefitted greatly. There were a lower number of cesarean or instrumental births and fewer induced labors, less frequent use of epidurals, lower proportion of post-term delivery, and fewer cases of infection, hemorrhaging, perineal tears, and uterine inertia.
It is important to note though that previous studies had also shown that women who had undergone a bariatric surgery are at a slightly higher risk for giving birth to smaller babies or premature delivery.
New research at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden finds that obese women who have lost weight using bariatric surgery before getting pregnant may have a safer delivery. The study showed that women who had lost weight with bariatric surgery were less likely to have gestational diabetes and their babies are less likely to be large for their gestational age.
What does this mean for your bariatric journey?
Despite the abundance of research, undergoing bariatric surgery before pregnancy isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommendation. The beneficial effects on delivery outcomes in these studies were understood independent of the growth of the fetus. More specific studies might be required for this factor. There are other adverse pregnancy and infant outcomes which need to be considered for each patient’s specific case, assessing the risks and benefits of giving birth after a weight loss surgery. The most common effect of the bariatric surgery is nutrient deficiency.
According to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the weight loss is caused by restricting the amount of food your stomach can hold; this can cause malabsorption of nutrients and some hormonal changes. During early pregnancy, the placenta from the mother provides certain fats and proteins to the embryo. Certain fats are important for normal brain development. With bariatric surgery patients, there may be vitamin B1 deficiency which can affect cardiac, neurological, and circulatory functions in the mother and, if this becomes severe, it can be fatal for both the mother and the baby. Due to these malabsorption effects which are seen in 18 to 24 months immediately after your surgery, women are usually counseled not to get pregnant during this period.
Schedule a Consultation
Although research seems promising, it’s best to discuss your health and pregnancy plans with a bariatric surgeon who can make a recommendation and explain the risks so you can make an informed decision. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Balsama, contact our South Jersey office by calling or filling out our online form.