Today’s post is written by Audra, from Rediscovering Domesticity. I’ve shared my breastfeeding struggles with excess lipase and now I’m thrilled to have Audra sharing her story of struggling with her thyroid.
I have heard of so many moms who have stopped breastfeeding because of low supply or starting medications for postpartum depression or anxiety that are not breastfeeding compatible.
With my first baby, my supply dipped to nearly nothing (diagnosed both by my doctor and lactation consultant). My son was fed mostly formula for 6 months. I was plunging into the pit of postpartum mood disorders.
Then we made a discovery – I wasn’t to blame! My THYROID was! A quick hormone adjustment (a tiny pill each day) and everything went back to normal!
The thyroid can cause all sorts of problems in pregnancy and breastfeeding and is many times left undiagnosed.
- Conception problems
- Placenta abruption
- Premature birth
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Low birth weight
- Unusually fast heart rate in mom and baby
- Milk supply problems
- Milk let-down problems
- Increased risk of postpartum depression
- Increased risk of postpartum anxiety
Wow. That’s a long list of scary things.
When I was 10, I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease– hyperthyroidism. My thyroid was VERY overactive. My sleeping pulse rate was 118 bpm. It was frightening. At 14, I had radiation to kill my thyroid. I’ve been on thyroid replacement hormone ever since.
I was told that getting pregnant would probably be difficult. *insert laughing & snorting here* I have three boys, aged 3 and under – none planned! I was told that I would need to have my labs drawn regularly through pregnancy.
I didn’t know why. My labs had always been normal. Easy peasy…
Until after I had my first baby.
After a fairly traumatic and preterm birth with my first, things got out of hand quickly. Buggy wasn’t gaining weight. I was feeling worse and worse. Formula was added. I was getting my thyroid checked every 6 weeks, but the results were always normal.
After 6 months of suffering, my test results were finally “off.” My doctor ran expanded tests and found that I was VERY hyper thyroid. That explained the milk supply issues and the anxiety/depression issues (I couldn’t even leave my porch). My doctor referred me to an endocrinologist. Within about a week, my milk supply came back. The depression and anxiety took much longer to heal from (I probably would have fared better had I sought breastfeeding-friendly medications).
Oh goodness – I was terrified that my postpartum experience would be similar with my second! Thanks to finally having good information and a good specialist we kept a very close eye on things. I had the extended tests done from the beginning and was tested about every month. We caught the issue very early this time and I had no milk or depression issues!
Yup. Fertile as all get-out. This pregnancy has taught me a lot about keeping tabs on thyroid numbers during pregnancy. I’ve had a few medication adjustments starting early in pregnancy this time. It was a little scary realizing that even though I felt pretty normal, that my numbers were pretty far off again. I mean, I was tired, but I was in my first trimester with exhaustion and TWO little ones to chase. I thought nothing of it.
Thankfully, the pregnancy progressed well. The docs are kept close tabs on me and this little baby was so active! Our healthy little one was born just before Christmas.
All the hormonal fluctuations surrounding childbirth can cause thyroid craziness. It’s much more common than you’d think. Often, rather than seeking an underlying cause, doctors treat the symptoms: move to formula for supply problems, add medications for mood disorders. Both could be minimized or eliminated in many cases with just a little investigating. Many postpartum thyroid issues straighten themselves out within a year.
If you have a history of thyroid issues, make sure you are followed closely through pregnancy and up to the first year postpartum.
If you have no history of thyroid issues, consider having your numbers checked along with routine pregnancy blood work. Many OB’s routinely check once or twice. Just ask!
All moms should be screened at their 6 weeks postpartum appointment. All moms who have supply or mood issues postpartum should be screened. If you feel off and get a normal report, you can request to have a complete thyroid panel run rather than just the TSH labs which is common practice.
The best thing we can do is to take good care of ourselves and share this information with the pregnant and breastfeeding moms we know!
Has thyroid played a part in pregnancy or breastfeedig for you? How?