.Bariatric surgery –  gastric bypass and gastric sleeve – offer numerous health benefits for women living with obesity. Achieving better fertility and delivering a healthy baby is one such outcome. Many expectant mothers who have also had a bariatric procedure may feel excited and uncertain about their experience, particularly about weight gain and how to achieve a healthy pregnancy after bariatric surgery. 

While some degree of weight gain is necessary to grow a healthy baby, doing so the right way is important to also maintain the health of the mother. Just as New Jersey Bariatric Center dietitians are here to help following surgery, we can provide guidance on the best way to gain weight for a healthy pregnancy. 

According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the right amount of weight gain during pregnancy benefits the health of a growing fetus and reduces the chances of a low weight at birth. However, gaining too much weight may increase challenges at birth. These challenges can include complicated deliveries and obesity later on in the child’s life. Increased maternal weight gain is also associated with a higher BMI for the mother in the months and years following birth. For these reasons, gaining the appropriate amount of weight in the healthiest way possible should be the goal for post-bariatric mothers and their healthcare team. 

How to Gain the Healthiest Amount of Weight

The healthiest approach to weight gain during pregnancy is to follow a nutrient dense diet made up of high quality protein, healthy fats and minimally processed fruits and veggies. When adding calories, the best way to start is having one extra healthy snack per day that consists of 50-250 calories. This snack is ideally from protein whenever possible. Healthy snack options include a cheese stick and a few apple slices, turkey breast rolled around a slice of avocado or raw veggies dipped in hummus. A cup of Greek yogurt, protein shake or ¼ cup of nuts make great on-the-go options. Be sure to talk with your dietitian about meal structure and timing, especially as the baby grows bigger. Heartburn and feeling full very quickly are common in the second half of pregnancy. This may be particularly challenging for bariatric mothers. Temporarily increasing the frequency of mini-meals and not laying down right after eating are some ways to help ease any discomfort. 

Depending on the specific weight goal, adding additional calories may not be necessary until the second or even third trimester, however consulting with your doctor will help you determine the right time to start.

RELATED: Tackling Postpartum Weight Loss

Overall, the  ACOG recommendations for weight gain in women pregnant with one baby:

  • BMI under 18.5/Underweight: 28-40 pounds
  • BMI 18.5-24.9/Normal weight: 25-35 pounds
  • BMI 25-29.9/Overweight: 15-25 pounds
  • BMI 30 and above/Obese: 11-20 pounds

Just as no two post-op experiences are the same, each pregnancy is unique and special in its own way. The experienced bariatric registered dietitians at New Jersey Bariatric Center are always here to help guide you through this amazing time. We can customize a nutrition plan for all stages of your pregnancy. We’re here help you reach your health goals after giving birth. Please call and make an appointment today!