Gastric balloon pregnancy: having a balloon and breastfeeding

A gastric balloon is a food and calorie-limiting procedure. Because of this factor, gastric balloon pregnancy can be challenging. For pregnancies, nourishment and sufficient calorie intake are important for the health and development of the baby. With a gastric balloon present, managing this balance gets harder.

Before or after a gastric balloon procedure, pregnancy should be put into the equation. There should be an appropriate time range between getting a balloon after pregnancy or getting pregnant after a gastric balloon. If the conception happens while there is a balloon present, there are safe actions that can be taken such as removal or close observation.

In some cases, people want this procedure to enhance their fertility and make their pregnancy safer both for themselves and the baby. While there is no direct relationship between the gastric balloon and fertility, weight loss can definitely help enhance the chance of conceiving. 

How balloon helps with fertility and pregnancy

A gastric balloon and pregnancy do not have a direct relationship. The balloon can only indirectly help with fertility by promoting weight loss. Excess weight can disrupt the hormonal balance and that can cause irregular menstrual cycles, PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), and ovulation problems in women. For men, excess weight can reduce sperm quality.

By helping weight loss, a gastric balloon can indirectly improve fertility in overweight people. Because losing weight will help regulate the hormonal balance, which will regulate the menstrual cycle and improve the chances of conception.

However, excess weight may not be the only factor for the low chance of conception. There can be other factors, such as age, ovulation disorders, early menopause, insufficient sperm production or abnormal sperm function, etc. Before attempting gastric balloons for fertility, consult your doctor to see if there are any other potential underlying conditions.

Getting balloon during pregnancy

If the patient is pregnant, it is absolutely not recommended for them to get a gastric balloon. The gastric balloon is an endoscopic surgery, so a gastric balloon pregnancy may pose certain risks for the mother and the baby. Intragastric balloon insertion can stress the body and this can indirectly affect the baby. Even after a successful insertion, limiting food and calorie intake can affect the development of the baby.

Although the gastric balloon is non-invasive, it can put a considerable amount of stress on the body. You can expect to feel nauseous and even vomit after it has been placed. You will also go through a progressive diet after insertion, which can be insufficient for the baby. All that stress, including the side effects of getting a gastric balloon, can affect the baby’s health negatively. 

During pregnancy, you are going to need essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to keep yourself and the baby healthy. It is especially important for the development of the baby. So if you were planning to get a gastric balloon while you are pregnant, you definitely should not do that. You need to prioritize your and your baby’s health.

But, if you still would like to work on your weight management, you can always consult a dietitian about the matter. Even if you cannot lose weight, since this is the main reason for wanting to get a gastric balloon, you can maintain your pre-pregnancy weight. However, you will see a slight weight gain, which is normal. The increasing weight you’ll see is your baby growing. To make your pregnancy more comfortable and aid your baby’s development, you can also go for walks, do prenatal yoga, or go swimming. These can also be beneficial for your developing baby. 

Getting pregnant after a balloon procedure

Although it can differ from person to person, it is considered safe to get pregnant at least 6 months after your gastric balloon has been removed. However, if you get pregnant while you have a gastric balloon inside of your stomach, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. There are a few possible routes to take, but the best option would be to have the balloon removed. To perform the removal as safe as possible for the baby, it should be done during the second trimester.

If the type of balloon you have is a swallowable Allurion gastric balloon, you do not need a removal of the balloon. It will come out naturally, through your feces. A time-activated valve on the balloon will dissolve after 14-16 weeks and the balloon will deflate itself slowly. This should coincide with your second trimester, as you got pregnant after getting this pill. And it is the appropriate time for the balloon removal.

The other option can be to monitor your and your baby’s health often. This will require regular check-ups, ultrasounds, tests… every possible precaution to make sure you and your baby are in good health. Because the balloon can become a risk when the patient is pregnant and can cause blockage. And that can be very discomforting and unhealthy for the patient and the baby.

While keeping close track of your and your baby’s health, your nutrients will also be tracked. You will receive a very carefully tailored diet that will help you and the development of the baby. This way, it will be made sure that you are both in good health. However, this does not eliminate the possible risks. So balloon removal is strongly recommended.

How is the balloon removed during pregnancy?

How the intra-gastric balloon is removed during pregnancy depends on the type of balloon used. But usually, it will be removed with the standard procedure. However, the patient might be given anesthesia or sedatives.

The anesthesia or sedation used for people who are not pregnant can be risky for the patient and the baby. For this reason, specific anesthetic medicines will be used that are proven to be safe for the baby. Of course, if there are other underlying conditions you or your baby has, they will also be considered while deciding on the anesthetic. So, you and your baby will be in good hands.

The surgeon will enter the stomach via an endoscope through the patient’s mouth. Deflate the balloon, and extract it. Afterward, patients will be prescribed painkillers and stomach protectors along with multivitamins and additional supplementation to help them in the after-removal phase. Have no worries, the doctor will prescribe medications that are safe to use for pregnant people.

After you have healed from the procedure, you will be free to follow a balanced diet that is healthy and nutritious for you and your baby.

Weight loss during pregnancy after balloon removal

Rapid weight loss during pregnancy can be risky for the baby. And that is what gastric balloon promotes. After the removal, you should keep in touch with your doctor to make sure you get sufficient nutrients. Keep in mind that the dietary guidelines your doctor will provide you will be based on your pre-pregnancy weight. And it is normal to experience weight gain during pregnancy. It is both the healthy weight of your baby and the oedema which is normal during pregnancy, not always fat gain.

Getting gastric balloon after giving birth

Depending on your health status, you should wait around 6-12 months to get a gastric balloon after pregnancy. If you have given birth and wish to get a gastric balloon to lose weight, you can. First, you should give your body some time to heal. Giving birth is a major stress on the body.

You should also consider your breastfeeding time. Your baby will still get their nutrients from you for at least 6 months. You should wait to get a gastric balloon after you are done breastfeeding. If you do rush it, not only will it affect your recovery, but it can also affect your lactation. It can be either the quantity or the quality of your breast milk, which can affect the development of your baby.

When is it safe to get pregnant after a balloon procedure

The recommended wait time would be around 6 months after the balloon removal. However, this can depend on the patient’s health status. So it would be wise to consult a healthcare provider beforehand to go through certain evaluations. A developing baby needs proper nutrition, and if you are experiencing nutrition deficiencies, a pregnancy can be risky for you and your baby.

After your consultation with your healthcare provider, you will be given adjustments to your diet and folic acid supplementation to make sure your pregnancy is healthy. Make sure to follow them thoroughly so that you and your bundle of joy can have a happy and healthy life.

Musella M, Milone M, Bellini M, et al. The Potential Role of Intragastric Balloon in the Treatment of Obese-Related Infertility: Personal Experience. Obesity Surgery. 2010;21(4):426-430. 

Jefferys A, D. Siassakos, T. Draycott, Akande V, Fox R. Deflation of gastric band balloon in pregnancy for improving outcomes. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. Published 2013.

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