Are you an exhausted new mom?
Uhhh....is the sky blue? Of course you are! You have a lot going on...anxiety about caring for a new baby, sleepless nights, irritability from said anxiety and lack of sleep. Maybe you're not able to produce as much milk as your baby needs or you have major hormone swings. With a barrage of new feelings and experiences, it's easy to understand why thyroid dysfunction is so easily missed in the postpartum period. Those things are the standard postpartum scenarios. Pile on top of that situations that vary from woman to woman like recovery from a cesarean or a difficult natural delivery, lack of family support around you, leaving your career for maternity leave or to be a permanent stay at home mom, maybe you are a single mom, and/or have older kids at home.
Life doesn't stop when you have a new baby, does it?
Being a mom is demanding physically and emotionally. However, sometimes these experiences, like the postpartum blues, difficulty losing weight, hair loss, or low milk production aren't normal. These symptoms can be indicative of hypothyroidism. As Jim Gaffigan so eloquently put it, having kids is like you're drowning...and someone hands you a baby. That is what it is like to have the "normal" postpartum experiences with the addition of thyroid dysfunction on top on that.
Hypothyroidism isn't the only thyroid situation that can happen. The polar opposite is hyperthyroidism. Symptoms like increased appetite, heart palpitations, racing thoughts, and losing weight quickly are signs of an overactive thyroid.
A proper diagnosis of these conditions is key in order to avoid feelings of inadequacy or that "no one gets it and everyone thinks you're cray". It can be such a relief for a woman to have an explanation and realize that she is not stuck with her symptoms!
Why does thyroid dysfunction happen to new moms?
The root cause of these thyroid issues is commonly due to an autoimmune condition. The name for autoimmune hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's and autoimmune hyperthyroidism is called Grave's disease. These conditions occur within 1 year of giving birth to 17% of women. This statistic is even higher is the woman already has a known autoimmune condition such as Type 1 Diabetes. On top of that, if you previously had a postpartum thyroid condition, hypothyroidism during pregnancy, or had elevated anti-TPO antibodies (most sensitive test for detecting autoimmune thyroid disease), your chances increase to 42%.
One of the best explanations I have come across for explaining autoimmunity in the postpartum period is that your immune system down regulates to ensure that you do not "reject" the growing baby in your uterus. After birth, your immune system comes back with a vengeance and goes into overdrive This can lead to autoimmune disease that targets the thyroid, especially in women who are already susceptible.
Here are some statistics:
20-40% of women become hyperthyroid around 1-4 months after birth
40-50% of women become hypothyroid, usually between 2-6 months after birth.
20-30% of women become hyperthyroid for 2-8 weeks, then become hypothyroid for anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months
5 Action Steps to take:
So, think you may be dealing with something other than the "normal" postpartum stuff? Join me for Part 2 of this topic during Mama Circle at the Renew Mama Studio on Friday, August 24th at 11:15am to discuss 5 actions steps you can take to investigate and treat your hormone dysfunction. I will discuss which tests to ask for and when they are most valuable, nutritional modifications, supplementation, pharmaceutical intervention, and what toxicities in your environment to be on the look out for!
You're not going to want to miss this opportunity to learn more and ask your burning questions! Don't have a membership at Renew? That's okay! They offer drop in rates for their classes. Just contact the studio to reserve your spot.