Tens of thousands of new moms in their first 12 months after birth are struggling with un-diagnosed thyroid problems after pregnancy, their symptoms being mistakenly chalked up to the normal challenges of new motherhood.
Having a baby is incredibly demanding physically, and at the same time, we’re going through a tremendous amount of personal, psychological, emotional, and social adjustment.
Symptoms of Postpartum Thyroid Disease?
Autoimmune thyroid disease tends to roll out in one of three ways in the weeks or months after birth:
- 20-40% of women become hyperthyroid around 1-4 months after birth
- 20-30% become hyperthyroid for two to eight weeks, then become hypothyroid for anywhere from two weeks to six months
- And 40-50% become hypothyroid only, usually between 2 and 6 months after birth.
- The symptoms of hyperthyroidism often go unnoticed by the new mom, until she reverts to hypothyroidism, at which time thinking back on it, the hyperthyroid symptoms seem more obvious.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism include:
- Weight loss
- Heart palpitations (a feeling that makes you hyper-aware of your heart beat)
- Heat intolerance
- Tachycardia, and
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease (hypothyroidism) include:
- Fatigue, sometimes exhaustion
- Cold intolerance
- Dry skin
- Joint pain (note that carpal tunnel syndrome may be related to hypothyroidism)
- Decreased breast milk volume
- Additionally, most women with postpartum thyroiditis have a mildly enlarged, non-tender thyroid gland.
Natural Approaches to Treating Postpartum Thyroiditis
- All pregnant women should ideally receive 200-300 mcg of iodine in pregnancy for the development and health of the baby. This amount is routinely found in prenatal vitamins.
- Supplementing with vitamin D3 at 2000 units per day in pregnancy and up to 4000 units per day while breastfeeding, to achieve a serum level of 50-70nM, may help prevent or reverse autoimmune thyroid disease. Levels can be rechecked every 6 weeks to measure improvement in vitamin D levels and indicate when to stay at a steady dose or decrease the dose.
- The two most helpful herbs are Motherwort (Leonorus cardiaca) and Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), 30-60 drops of the liquid extract of each, 2-6 times/day, safe while breastfeeding, to control irritability, agitation, anxiety, and heart racing.
- Avoid plastic packaging when you purchase, store, and reheat your foods.
- Drink beverages out of glass, paper, and stainless steel only (not plastic).
- Learn management skill to handle high levels of, or persistent stress, that can impact the adrenal system, with resultant effects on the thyroid, and gut inflammation, causing leaky gut, and food sensitivities leading to autoimmune thyroid conditions.