Postpartum thyroid dysfunction is a common condition that occurs in women after giving birth. It is characterized by an imbalance of thyroid hormones in the body, which can lead to various symptoms, including fatigue, dry skin, depression, and poor milk production.
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones, which play a crucial role in many bodily functions, including metabolism, heart rate, and brain development. During pregnancy, the body's need for thyroid hormones increases, putting a strain on the thyroid gland. This is especially true for women with Hashimoto's thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder that causes thyroid gland inflammation.
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Milk Production and the Thyroid Gland
One of the main symptoms of postpartum thyroid dysfunction is reduced milk production, which is caused by low levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. This is known as hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid. It is important to note that women with thyroid dysfunction can still breastfeed safely, whether the problem developed before, during, or after pregnancy.
To increase milk production, it may be helpful to try lactogenic foods, which have been shown to stimulate milk production. These include oats, fenugreek, and brewer's yeast. It is also necessary to be evaluated by a healthcare provider, who can determine if thyroid medication is needed.
Diagnosis While Breastfeeding
One diagnostic tool that is not recommended for women who are breastfeeding is a thyroid scan. This procedure involves an injection of radioactive iodine, which can pass into the milk and potentially affect the baby's thyroid gland. Instead, blood tests may be used to diagnose thyroid dysfunction.
Symptoms of Postpartum Thyroid Dysfunction
- Swelling of the thyroid gland.
- Dry skin.
- Intolerance to cold.
- Poor milk supply.
- Hair loss.
- Difficulty losing weight.
- Rapid weight loss.
- Difficulty concentrating.
It is important to be evaluated by your Health Care Provider. If it has been proven by blood tests that you have gone into a hypothyroid state, thyroid medicine can be used during lactation.