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Thyroid during pregnancy and postpatrum

Updated: Feb 17, 2023

Fatigue, weight gain, GI distress, feeling depressed or anxious, and trouble sleeping? These might be sign that your thyroid got overwhelmed during pregnancy.

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. Your thyroid makes hormones that control how your body uses energy. Thyroid hormones affect nearly every organ in your body, including your heart. They help control your weight, body temperature, muscle strength, and even your mood. If you don't have enough thyroid hormones in your blood, many of your body functions slow down. If you have too much, many body functions speed up.

During pregnancy your thyroid needs to work for two as your body and hormones shift to support a growth of another life. Thyroid hormone production shifts during pregnancy, too. The thyroid will produce more T4-binding globulin (TBG), which results in higher concentrations of the thyroid hormones T4 and T3 than in nonpregnant women. This helps to meet the body’s increased metabolic needs during pregnancy.

However this can mean also that pregnancy puts increased demands on the thyroid and can make it weaken or even lead to potential autoimmunity of the organ. When it continues in the postpartum period it can lead to depression, hair loss, difficulty losing weight, and trouble producing adequate breast milk.

Hypothyroidism is characterized by high TSH and low free T4. Subclinical hypothyroidism is characterized by elevated TSH but normal free T4 and T3 – or by the presence of thyroid TPO antibodies when other thyroid numbers are within the optimal range.

Getting appropriate blood test for thyroid during pregnancy can help prevent further complications connected with impaired thyroid function and help address thyroid issues when it is in the subclinical state with addition or dedicated nutrients supporting thyroid.

The optimal testing include

TSH - a hormone produced by pituitary gland which stimulates hormones production in the thyroid the optimal range should be 1-2 mU/L

FT4 is the rather inactive form of thyroid hormone which is converted into FT3. The conversion depends on presence of iodine, selenium and tyrosine among other nutrients the optimal range is 6.0 - 12 mcg/dL (77.2 - 154.4 nmol/L)

FT3 - the active hormone which affects other tissues in the body the optimal range is 100-230 ng/dL (1.54 - 3.53 nmol/L)

anti-TPO the correct range should be <4 mU/L

anti-TG the correct range should be <4 IU/mL

Thyroid requires a lot of nutrients like iodine, selenium, vitamin D, iron, zinc, vitamin E to work optimally so providing all the needed nutrients is also very helpful to support your thyroid function (a good prenatal supplement would be also helpful to support thyroid function during pregnancy and postnatal period).

Another things which help your thyroid to thrive during pregnancy is the choice of anti-inflammatory food and getting adequate time to relax and release stress as the stress plays quite big role in impairing thyroid health. TSH hormone is produced by pituitary access however pituitary is also responsible for production of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) which sends signal to the adrenal glands to produce stress hormones (among those - cortisol) - taking into account that cortisol is the priority hormone the other ones can become a bit "neglected".

For more detailed nutritional advise on how to support your thyroid during pregnancy please check out other pregnancy posts on my blog, look for the free pregnancy e-book on my website or book a free consultation with me. You can also look at the available blood test you can do to check your thyroid function.

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