Postpartum Issues after Weight Loss Surgery
Having a baby and becoming a parent is a life changing event. There are so many beautiful moments and it is such an incredible feeling watching your baby grow. Postpartum is a journey in itself, but throw on top of that bariatric surgery, and it is even more complicated. Your body goes through so many changes after having a baby and I found that being a bariatric patient probably affected my experience as well. I am currently 6 months postpartum with my second baby and wanted to share how I believe bariatric surgery has played a role in my motherhood journey.
I think one of the most obvious things that bariatric surgery has affected was my milk supply. I struggled with this pretty early on and I truly believe that because I am a bariatric patient, it was a little harder for me. Some people are blessed with a great milk supply, while others have difficulty producing. I unfortunately have been one of the unlucky ones who struggled with both of my babies, but definitely more with this baby. When I had my son 6 years ago, I was 1 year post op gastric sleeve when I got pregnant. This time with my daughter, I was only 4 months post op my conversion to gastric bypass. I believe that because I was so close to my surgery, it might have played a role on why it was more challenging for me this time around. I am definitely eating less this time around due to gastric bypass, and nutrition plays a huge role with your supply. I can only eat so much in a day and I think that negatively affected how much milk I could produce. It was really hard on my body and I had to supplement with formula when my daughter was 3 months old. The emotional toll it takes was something I was not expecting. I had a goal of exclusively breastfeeding until she was a year old and it was really hard for me to accept that my body just could not do it. I did everything I could to build my supply up. I even went and got a hydration IV treatment to try to help with dehydration. At the end of the day, I just had to remember that fed was best and I was doing everything I could.
On top of having a lower milk supply, I also experienced postpartum hair loss and I think that being a bariatric patient played a role in this as well. You already have a chance of losing hair after surgery so being postpartum just added to it. It all goes back to nutrition. Being pregnant and a nursing mama is hard work and your baby is taking so much of that nutrition from you. Hair loss is a really annoying thing, but luckily it usually does not last.
Your body is in overdrive after having a baby and it is so important that you remember to take care of yourself as well. Emotionally it can be really hard because your hormones are all over the place after having a baby. A lot of bariatric patients who get pregnant after surgery struggle with body image issues. Weight gain during pregnancy can cause bariatric patients a lot of anxiety because they are worried they will get back to where they were before surgery. It is important that you do not put too much pressure on yourself after having a baby to lose the weight. Give your body time to heal and focus on loving on that baby. You will be surprised what your body is capable of doing, so do not panic if you are feeling a little heavier than you would like.
At the end of the day, we all have different struggles after having a baby. Just because you are a bariatric patient does not mean you will have any of these issues. However, it is so critical that you prepare yourself for how life might be a little different since you have had this surgery. Our bodies are different and so it only makes sense that we might have some additional challenges. No matter what though, just remember that you will get through it. Things might not always go the way you thought they would and that is ok. You got this!
- Kimberly H.