LAP-BAND and Pregnancy

For those who are morbidly obese, pregnancy can be a frightening thought. Complications like Cesarean sections, higher rates of birth defects, and an increased risk of death for both mother and child are all very real. For women who have tried losing weight with dieting and exercise but have seen no lasting results, LAP-BAND surgery might be a good option.

Women who are considering the LAP-BAND and also want to start a family should know how this weight loss surgery can affect not only themselves, but their baby, as well. It is important to take into consideration how long doctors recommend waiting before getting pregnant, the benefits of the LAP-BAND for both mother and child, as well as some of the side effects and risks. Getting the LAP-BAND surgery is a serious lifestyle change and it is crucial for patients to understand how it will affect them in the future.

Doctors recommend waiting at least a year to 18 months before trying to conceive, because they want to ensure that the patient's body is ready for a baby. Following the LAP-BAND surgery, patients are put on a strict diet tailored to their weight loss needs. This new regimen is solely focused on losing excess weight, and babies may not receive the nourishment they require. After the LAP-BAND surgery, the body loses a lot of weight and needs time to stabilize before taking on the added stress of carrying a baby.

With the rapid weight loss from the LAP-BAND, women's menstrual cycles regulate, which may increase the chances of conceiving. To reduce the risks that obese pregnancies carry, doctors want to see proper weight maintenance before they recommend trying to conceive. Those patients that choose not to wait before becoming pregnant have a tendency to gain more weight than is medically suggested and often find it harder to lose. During pregnancy, there are a number of hormonal changes, as well as the patient’s tendency to overeat. Overeating can cause the stomach and esophagus to stretch, because the body is not accustomed to consuming the same amount of food they ate prior to weight loss surgery. In turn, patients find that the LAP-BAND adjustments that worked before do not provide the same benefits post-pregnancy.

Taking oral contraceptives is a great way to prevent conception, but women with the LAP-BAND must be wary. After the surgery, oral contraceptives may not be as effective because of a patient’s new, smaller stomach size.

One study showed that oral contraceptives can take twice as long to be absorbed by a woman with a BMI of 35 or higher and may not be able to provide enough protection to prevent pregnancy. LAP-BAND patients should use other birth control measures such as condoms, contraceptive sponges and diaphragms.

Studies have shown that LAP-BAND pregnancies are safe for both mother and child, and can be just as safe as normal weight pregnancies. In fact, when regularly cared for by a doctor, women who are pregnant and have had the LAP-BAND surgery have much safer pregnancies than obese women. Medical evidence suggests that obesity during pregnancy carries greater risks, like higher rates of birth defects and even death for both mother and child. Because of the physical demands of child birth, obese women tend to have a longer, harder time during childbirth. This increases the chances that doctors will have to perform a Cesarean section for the health of both mother and child.

In contrast, pregnant women who have the LAP-BAND are at a lower risk of childbirth complications. Medical investigations show that the pregnancy risks for mothers who have had the LAP-BAND are the same for mothers who are at a healthy weight. Furthermore, research has shown that babies born to obese mothers are twice as likely to be stillborn. In fact, in the first month after birth, babies born to obese mothers are three times as likely to die compared to babies born to mothers of a healthy weight.

The cost of obese pregnancies is also on the rise; some have been shown to be five times more expensive than normal weight pregnancies. One hospital estimated that the price when caring for an obese woman and her baby to be more than $200,000, compared to a normal delivery of $13,000. Hospitals have to invest in larger beds and delivery room tables, as well as longer surgical instruments and more sophisticated fetal testing machines to monitor obese mothers throughout their pregnancy. The cost of buying these expenses are then passed on to the patient.

Doctors recommend healthy eating and sufficient nutrition for all of their patients, especially pregnant mothers. For women who are thinking about weight loss surgery, ensuring that they get proper nutrition for themselves and their baby can be an even bigger concern. With the adjustability of the LAP-BAND, the nutrition requirements for both mother and child can be monitored with regular visits to a doctor. A study showed that not only do women with the LAP-BAND have better control of their weight during pregnancy, but with routine check-ups, both mother and child receive all required nutrition.

Just like with any pregnancy, there are risks with the LAP-BAND while carrying a child, like an increased chance that the LAP-BAND could slip. Regular doctor visits are necessary to ensure that the band stays in place. If patients experience frequent morning sickness or vomiting, this can also cause the LAP-BAND to shift. Some women have also expressed a feeling of "tightness" from the LAP-BAND while pregnant. This is most likely from the LAP-BAND being too tight and a visit to the doctor is highly recommended.

The adjustability of the LAP-BAND to meet the needs of both mother and child makes it one of the safest choices for women who are considering weight loss surgery during pregnancy. In fact, the LAP-BAND helps reduce the risks involved with morbidly obese pregnancies. However, just like having a child, the LAP-BAND is a major lifestyle change and should be considered carefully.

To learn more about LAP-BAND and pregnancy, as well as weight loss surgery options in Los Angeles, please call 800-561-9000.

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