…that’s baby not stomach – the morning of the c-section…
One of the things that brings people to my blog (other than my milkshakes) is the fact that I’ve had a gastric sleeve. (It’s a procedure where they surgically remove 80% of your stomach and permanently restrict your food intake.) I had the procedure done to assist with our ability to conceive (turns out your fertility is severally impacted by being 80kg overweight and having PCOS).
I had the procedure done in 2009 (December 14 to be exact!) and between then and now I have lost just over 65kgs. (That’s like 2 supermodels!) I’ve also managed to realize our dream of being able to start a family (through the magic that is IVF).
I get a lot of comments on the blog asking about my sleeve and I’ve been really blessed that one of my posts has become a place that people exploring the procedure seem to come too looking for answers. A lot of the questions are about the procedure, what to expect after the procedure and what people can eat once it’s done.
However, a reader left a comment on one of my posts asking about being pregnant after having the procedure. I thought I would put into a post, to share with everyone, the answers that I give when people ask about the gastric sleeve and pregnancy.
Here’s the top 5 (or more accurately the most memoriable) questions that people (and specifically Susan) asked when I was pregnant (and they knew about the sleeve):
The following answers are just my experience with life after the procedure. I don’t know anyone else that’s had the procedure so it’s hard to compare experiences. This information does not replace medical advice, it’s merely my experience and if you’re considering the procedure you should talk to your medical provider and follow their advice.
1. Will you starve the baby?
Always a great question to ask a worrying pregnant lady. The answer I gave people was; “no, the baby is fine”. When you’re pregnant the growing baby is your body’s first priority so any nutrients you put into your body go straight to your baby. However, with a restricted intake you need to make sure to maximize the nutrients you are getting.
All of my doctors were aware that I’d had the procedure so they paid extra attention to the baby’s measurements. I also went and saw my dietitian in the first trimester to find out what I would need to do to ensure I was getting enough food for the two of us.
She gave me a great eating plan and went through everything with me. She recommended that I take a multivitamin to ensure that if I didn’t follow the plan that I’d be at least assured I was getting the nutrients. My IVF clinic recommended the same thing so that was easy enough to do.
2. Were your Doctors concerned?
Yes, and then no. Initially they said that my pregnancy would be considered a “high risk” pregnancy because they would need to ensure the baby wasn’t being affected by it. Basically it just boiled down to a couple more ultrasounds then the “normal” patient but it turned out to be all for naught. (Except it meant we got to see the Little Man a lot more which was lovely!)
Ironically, they actually thought I was going to have gestational diabetes given the size of the baby on the scans. I didn’t have it; I just had a big baby.
3. Was your eating impacted?
Yes, but again I suspect it was just one of the things about being pregnant and had nothing to do with the gastric sleeve.
I had morning sickness (which in some ways was better because of the sleeve; less to throw up!) and I had indigestion. (Tums is the best invention in the world!)
I thought that towards the end of my pregnancy I would be spared the complaint of the baby pushing up on my stomach that I had heard other expectant mothers state. But alas, no the little tacker still managed to get his head/butt/feet in to that space enough to cause me discomfort.
I did find I was hungry for the first time really since having the procedure. I found after having the procedure that I just wasn’t hungry any more. I couldn’t tell you what I wanted to eat, my body just didn’t care for food in the same way. However with the pregnancy I had my first ever cravings again. I could tell you exactly what I wanted to eat and when. It was brilliant!
After the procedure I developed an aversion to milk (which sucked because I adore milk) but while pregnant I would chug that stuff like it was water. Once the baby was born, back to not being able to handle large amounts of milk.
4. When you were pregnant, could you see your stomach/gastric sleeve in your ultrasounds?
Nope, the only thing I saw in those ultrasounds was the baby. (Well sometimes I suspected they were just showing me random screen snow! I mean seriously, how could they tell that was a kidney when the kid’s no bigger than a plum!)
5. How much weight did you gain? Have you lost it?
I gained 12kg in total for the pregnancy. I have to admit it really hurt watching those scales go up instead of the down that I had become used to; I just had to remind myself that it was for the best.
I’d love to say I didn’t gain too much because I ate so well and exercised regularly. Far from it, I ate like a horse and I didn’t move my arse off the couch the entire time. I just got lucky.
The dietitian told me to expect to put on between 10 and 12kgs and that would be a healthy gain for my height, etc.
On the day of delivery I lost 7kg (I had a 3.5kg baby) and by the time the Little Man was 3 weeks old I had lost 17kg in total; I was under my pre-pregancy weight.
Again, love to say it was all diet and exercise but it was sleepless nights, anxiety, lack of hunger and illness that did it. (I’m such a great role model for healthy living!) My lack of hunger was so bad that it was an issue with the midwives while I was in hospital. They kept telling me to eat more and I kept having to tell them that I had a gastric sleeve and that was as much as I was going to get in. It was annoying, but they meant well and they were worried about me so you can’t be annoyed with that for too long.
And a bonus question,
6. Did it affect your ability to breastfeed?
Nope. Ultimately my milk never came in but that’s just the luck of the draw. We did everything we could to try and make it happen but it didn’t. The Doctors and Nurses said it could be down to a number of factors (PCOS, c-section delivery, IVF) but no one really knows why and no one ever mentioned the gastric sleeve as a possibility. Personally, I don’t think it played a part in my inability to breastfeed at all.
So, that in a nutshell is my pregnancy experience as it relates to being a gastric sleeve recipient. It is by far still the best decision I have ever made. I look at the Little Man everyday and thank the Lord for him and know that having this procedure played a crucial part in the dream coming true.
If you’d like to know anything more or what me to expand on something above, just leave me a comment. I might not answer it straight away (running around after the baby and packing to move is currently cramping my style) but I will get to it.