I got pregnant at about the 6 month post-op point. We are told over and over again to wait at least 18 months- but preferably a year. I've even heard some surgeons go as far as to say that they would just prefer their patients to have the surgery after they are done having children in general. I never really listened to WHY they didn't want me to get pregnant, I more so just heard the general message- don't get pregnant.
Well, I'm here to tell you WHY they tell us not to get pregnant so close after our surgery- but I first want to say a few positive things. I am VERY blessed to have such a supportive family and group of friends- that knew when I needed to eat healthier and knew how hard this was on me. I am equally as blessed to have such an amazing team of doctors that know what they're talking about- other than a bad advice nurse at the beginning of the pregnancy.
I never in a million years would have guessed I'd get pregnant on my own, let alone get pregnant with a "surprise." This baby is the biggest surprise of my life and the most welcome one... I am so excited to see what life has in store for this little one- he's definitely meant to be.
So on to the point of my post- 9 months in review... Why our surgeons don't want us to get pregnant so early out:
1. It is next to impossible to eat enough calories for you and the baby. The baby is going to be fine as long as you're eating something- the baby takes the nutrients first and gives you the leftovers. So early on in the first trimester when I was horribly sick to my stomach 24/7 and only eating roughly 800 calories a day (tops) the baby was taking what he needed and leaving me with the rest- which wasn't much. I cannot begin to tell you how weak I felt and how miserable I was in the first trimester. My emotions were everywhere... on top of having pregnancy emotions I was dealing with a body that was in starvation mode.
2. Cravings. Is this something a doctor will specifically talk to you about? Probably not- but in my opinion, it's important to note that cravings are a huge part of why being pregnant so early out was miserable for me. What pregnant woman craves protein shakes and healthy foods? Sure there are plenty of times when healthier foods sound good, but most of the time I'm craving foods that are high in carbs or sweet. I'll admit- I tested my pouch and paid for it big time. I tried eating foods that I knew weren't good for me... and my pouch let me know quickly how wrong I was to do that- which meant that I had to spend a good 2-3 hours sick from my experiment and sick from the morning sickness at the same time. Not a good combo.
3. Aversions. Again, not something a surgeon will specifically talk to you about- but it's something to take note of. The smell of my protein drinks was enough to make me gag. Literally. I could mix the protein with anything and I'd still smell that protein-ness... and I'd get sick. So for a good solid 2 months I had a huge deficiency in protein... I tried many times to force the protein down but it would come back up- and then I'd spend hours that day not being able to eat anything else because I was so sick to my stomach. I decided it was more important that I just keep trying to get in calories and protein elsewhere and deal with the deficiency later.
4. Bad habits. I have developed SO many bad habits over the past 9 months and am absolutely terrified of what my life is going to be like when I go back to eating like a true bariatric patient. After I give birth I'll be breastfeeding so I will continue needing the calories- but the cravings that I've given into over the past few months will need to end. My diet needs to go back to higher protein foods, protein supplements and a LOT fewer carbs. Being pregnant I've given myself the excuse- "I need to eat that for the added calories," or I'll say, "I'm pregnant and craving it... so I can eat it." It's really hard to say no to those voices in your head when you're pregnant... I should have tried a little harder, but I didn't and oh well- it just means working harder later.
5. Small babies/Premature babies. The risk of having a premature baby or a low birth weight baby increases significantly in WLS patients. During this pregnancy I have not gained very much weight and the baby is measuring small- not too small, but small enough to have caused some concern around the 30 week mark. It is terrifying when they start talking about something that could be wrong with your baby- especially when you know that the problem is because of you. I know that being a WLS patient increased my odds of a low birth weight baby- and I know that having a baby too early probably increased my chances even more. I didn't sit around and blame myself or feel sorry for myself- but the feelings it provoked just weren't worth it.
6. Gallbladder Attacks. Being a WLS patient increases your chances of having gallbladder (GB) issues... and being pregnant does too. I never knew this, but learned it at around 28ish weeks (maybe sooner?). I have had around 10 GB attacks during this pregnancy- 3 of which I would categorize as being the worst pain I've suffered in my entire life (this includes pain suffered from surgeries and giving birth). There is NOTHING they can do for you if you are having a GB attack and you are in your 2nd or 3rd trimester... unless of course your GB is infected and it is an emergency. But for the general attack, don't expect any relief- it's just a wait it out sort of deal. Misery.
7. Finally, being 6 months post-op I was still learning how to live my new life as a WLS patient. I was still having food issues and still learning a lot of new habits... 6 months did not give me long enough to utilize this tool I was given and lose all the weight I could have lost. The first 18 months of being a WLS patient provide you with the best opportunity to lose the most weight and develope good habits... and unfortunately when you get pregnant at 6 months post op you haven't even give your body half that time to do what it should be doing. It's been a hard road mentally and physically.
This baby is a blessing and is SO very wanted... but it's been a hard 9 months. It's been very emotional. The food issue has been very frustrating for me and has caused me a lot of grief. As much as I love that I haven't gained a lot of weight, I still feel guilty that I haven't been able to eat enough to make this baby plump up a bit more...
So with all that being said, if you are a WLS patient or candidate, take the advice of your surgeon seriously- know that getting pregnant being 18 months post-op is not a good idea.
While I am very nervous to get back to living the life of a true bariatric patient in a couple of weeks (minus the added calories I need for breastfeeding)- I am also really motivated. I'm excited to get back into my hardcore workouts and healthier eating. My goal is to be at my goal weight at 6 months post-partum... so approximately September 6th. This blog will start being a lot more active again once I am able to start my new regime...