Thyroid and Breastfeeding

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Thyroid and Breastfeeding

Moms are always worried about their little ones. Could it be that what they ate may be the reason the baby was up all night crying? Could it be the tea they drank that caused the tummy ache? Was it the way they slept on their side that gave gas to the little one? What moms generally tend to forget is their own health. And this is what suffers the most. In case of the thyroid, it isn’t only the baby who faces serious issues, but the mom too.

Not sure what is being discussed? Let’s start from the very beginning.

The Relationship between Breastfeeding and Thyroid Gland

There are many moms who have thyroid disease.  Some know, while others simply have no idea that their thyroid gland is not working as well as it should. This means that their condition deteriorates faster than they can imagine.  More so because they have no idea about what is going on. The thing is, nursing can make women who have a thyroid problem feel even worse.

Why? Because nursing takes out more from you than you can ever know. Studies show that women who have hypothyroidism can have low production of milk. But this is not where the problem ends. Hypothyroid moms are also more prone to and susceptible to infections and other kinds of diseases. This is because their immune system is often low and starts malfunctioning, just like their thyroid gland. Let us explain in detail.

Understanding Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid gland lies right behind the Adam’s apple in your throat and is considered to be one of the most important gland of the endocrine system. It is responsible for the production of the thyroid hormone, which in turn is the hormone that manages the metabolic system as well the temperature of the body.

There are also many other systems of the body that the thyroid hormone controls. In simple words, it is very important for adequate functioning of the body. If there is something wrong with the thyroid gland, the body does not work well.

There are main two things that go wrong with the thyroid gland, it either becomes excessively active or excessively slow. When it becomes too slow, it produces very low quantities of the thyroid hormone. This condition is known as hypothyroidism and it leads to the metabolic rate slowing down. Following are the signs and symptoms of this condition:

  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Constipation
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Dry skin and brittle hair
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Cold intolerance
  • Muscular aches and pains

The other common condition is known as hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid gland becomes excessively overactive and produces large amounts of the thyroid hormone. This leads to the metabolic rate becoming too high and the person loses a lot of weight. Some other common signs and symptoms include:

  • Weight loss even though there is an increase in appetite
  • Intolerance to heat
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors in hands and fingers
  • Hair loss
  • Goiter
  • Anxiety and mood swings
  • Exhaustion
  • Pains and aches in muscles

Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are also autoimmune thyroid conditions that ultimately lead to hyper and hypothyroidism in the long run. Do you feel that you have any of the above mentioned symptoms? If yes, then you need to see your doctor.

Thyroid Disease during Pregnancy

Many women acquire thyroid issues during their pregnancy. This is more common than you know. The changes in hormones or the rapid fluctuation of hormones during the time of pregnancy causes many women to develop temporary thyroid problems.  Most of the time these disorders are resolved once pregnancy is over.  If you feel that you have any of the symptoms of thyroid problems, then you need to talk to your gynecologist about it and have them run the required tests.

Hopefully, once you are through with pregnancy, your hypothyroid symptoms will end. But if the disease persists you may need to visit an endocrinologist. They will run some more tests.

Some doctors may recommend for you you to lose weight, make some changes in what you eat, and change the way you work out. For example, if your routine is very sedentary, you will be asked to work out more often so as to help you lose weight more effectively. All these things together will help in keeping your thyroid working efficiently and make sure that you remain in the best of health.

What about Your Breastfed Baby?

This is something you don’t have to be worried about at all. Studies show that the only thing the mom needs to be worried about is herself.  I know this goes against the grain of how most moms feel.  The only person whose health is affected, due to an inefficient thyroid gland and the possible use of thyroid medication, is the mother.  According to most doctors, the baby is not at all affected by the medicines given to the mother, whether they are in the womb or when they are consuming the milk of the mother.

This happens because the quantity is very little and such small amount does no harm to the baby. If on the other hand, the mother does not take the medication, the damage caused by inefficiency of the thyroid gland will be much more severe. Hence it is best that the mother be aware of her thyroid health and have a conversation with her doctor to learn more.


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