Treating This Common Condition Can Boost Your Fertility—and Your Baby’s Health

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(BPT) - You probably know that tracking your cycle can boost your odds of conceiving. Or that taking a prenatal vitamin can improve your baby’s health.

But did you know obesity can make it harder to get pregnant and have a healthy baby?

Women with obesity may have preeclampsia, hypertension, gestational diabetes or may need a cesarean section, for example. Their babies are at greater risk for problems such as birth defects, preterm birth and stillbirth.

If you have obesity, know that you’re not alone—more than 40% of American women are considered overweight, obese or severely obese. Darrin Hansen, M.D., FACS, of General Surgery & Utah Lap-Band in Salt Lake City, Utah, offers the following information on taking charge of your reproductive health:

Taking Charge of Obesity—And Your Reproductive Health

The good news: losing weight can boost fertility and lower the risk of problems in pregnancy and childbirth. If you have severe obesity, weight-loss surgery is the only reliable way to lose a lot of weight and keep it off.

One type of surgery in particular—the Lap-Band® Procedure—is a safe, effective and less invasive surgical option for weight loss. During this procedure, an adjustable band is placed around your upper stomach to limit how much food you eat and help you feel full.

The Lap-Band is well-tolerated in pregnancy and doesn’t result in complications for moms and babies. It’s ideal for women with a body mass index (BMI) as low as 30 (or approximately 20 to 60 pounds overweight) who want a healthy pregnancy or may have a hard time getting pregnant due to excess weight.

Let’s take a closer look at why so many women choose the Lap-Band:

  • Safer for mom and baby: One study confirmed that pregnancy and birth outcomes of women with severe obesity who had Lap-Band Surgery were more similar to general community outcomes rather than those of severely obese women. And unlike other types of weight-loss surgery, the Lap-Band Procedure doesn’t involve cutting, stapling or removing parts of the stomach or re-routing the intestines. This can cause nutritional deficiency, increasing the risk of problems for the fetus. The Lap-Band is also adjustable and can be used to modify the degree of hunger or fullness during pregnancy and additionally provide proper nutrition during the gestational period—meaning better outcomes for mom and baby. If for any reason your Lap-Band needs to be removed, it is easily reversible.
  • Effective: Lap-Band Surgery coupled with an aftercare program can help with steady, gradual weight loss of about 1-2 pounds per week. Just a 5-10% decrease in weight can improve estrogen levels, metabolism, hormone production, and ovulation, increasing the chance of a successful pregnancy. ReShapeCare™, which works in partnership with a surgeon’s aftercare program, is a practical and easy-to-use virtual program to help achieve a healthy weight by changing your behavior, and is typically covered by insurance.
  • Trusted and affordable: Most major insurance providers cover the Lap-Band Procedure. It’s been done over 1 million times worldwide and is backed by over 25 years of clinical evidence.

Don’t Give Up: Increasing Your Odds of Conceiving and Having a Healthy Pregnancy

Amber Faulkner from Utah tried to get pregnant with her second child for almost 13 years. After many miscarriages, she was ready to give up.

“I credit my ability to finally successfully have two babies to the weight loss and lifestyle changes as part of my Lap-Band journey,” Amber says. “My Lap-Band remained in place during my pregnancies and both babies were born happy, healthy and right on time.”

To increase your odds, ask your doctor about the Lap-Band Program and keep these healthy lifestyle tips in mind:

  1. Increase exercise. Being in better shape won’t just help you have an easier pregnancy and delivery—it can also reduce your baby’s risk of disease in the future. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity for a total of 150 minutes each week.
  2. Adopt a healthier diet. Eating healthier can help your overall health and nourish your baby once you get pregnant. Choose nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables (preferably organic), whole grains and lean protein. Pre-pregnancy, limit caffeine, alcohol and start taking a prenatal vitamin.
  3. Get enough sleep. Adults (and children) who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity. In general, aim for 7 or more hours of sleep every night.
  4. Reduce stress. Stress has been linked to weight gain and can also make it harder to get pregnant. To reduce stress, try a meditation or yoga app, exercise, or reach out to a friend or therapist for support.
  5. Avoid substance use. Tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs can harm your pregnancy and your baby.
  6. Avoid toxins. Try to lower your exposure to harmful substances such as synthetic chemicals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent feces around the home and at work.
  7. Take care at work. Heavy lifting, standing for long stretches of time or bending at the waist can be harmful for menstruation, fertility or pregnancy.

A BMI of 30 or higher during pregnancy can harm fertility and increase the risk of complications for you and your baby. But obesity doesn’t have to stand in the way of your dreams of parenthood. By working with your doctor, you can manage your risks and enjoy a healthy pregnancy.

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