How to protect your Thyroid during Pregnancy
Research suggests that due to women’s more complex hormone systems, woman are more prone to autoimmune diseases and that pregnancy also plays a role in that. 1, 2
During the third trimester a pregnant woman becomes TH-2 dominant, then TH-1 dominant postpartum. This simply means that one part of her immune system is more dominant than the other. This may be the thing that tips an immune system over the edge, especially if other factors such as genetics (i.e. mom or sister has Hashimoto’s or another Autoimmune Condition such as Rheumatoid Arthritis) and lifestyle (blood sugar imbalance, food intolerances, gut infection, stress and other autoimmune diseases) are also part of the picture.
Pregnancy can also inhibit function of the pituitary gland, which is a gland at the base of the brain that controls hormones. The Pituitary signals the thyroid to release TSH, so if it’s not sending these signals correctly, this can lead to Hypothyroidism and postpartum depression. Blood sugar imbalance, food intolerances, gut infection or hormonal imbalances can supress pituitary function. 3,4,5,6,7
Hypothyroid symptoms (depression, fatigue, cold hands and feet, constipation, weight gain, etc.) occur two to twelve months after delivery—most commonly at six months. 30 to 50 percent develop permanent hypothyroidism within nine years. 8,9
What can I do?
- Prioritize Good Gut Health: If you are planning to conceive and have any uncomfortable gut symptoms such as reflux, indigestion, constipation and bloating then you should prioritise removing these symptoms. The first port of call would be to eliminate inflammatory foods such as ready made, processed, sugar laden meals and snacks. If you suspect you are reacting to certain foods such as gluten and dairy then you could try removing them to see if this improves your symptoms. Including a diet that is rich in wholefoods such as a variety of colorful vegetables, as well as adding prebiotic and probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut, olives & pickles. If you are still experiencing unfavorable symptoms, you should be working with a practitioner who can do a 4R programme with you, to help find the root cause.
- Balance your Blood Sugar Levels: If you can’t go longer than 3 hours without feeling cranky and always need to have a chocolate bar or similar with you “just in case”, then you may want to work on your blood sugar levels before conceiving. When your body is in a state of Hypoglycemia (too little sugar in your blood stream) or Hyperglycemia (too much sugar in your blood stream) your body is in a state of inflammation and stress. This leads to brain fog, mood swings, weight gain (especially around your belly!), cravings and tiredness. If you need quick fixes such a coffee or sweets to get you through the afternoon, then you are a ticking clock for diabetes. Start off by including a good balance of fibre, protein and fat with each meal. None of which can be found in a chocolate bar! This includes eggs, fish, olive oil, nuts, seeds and beans. So ditch the cereal and have an omelette or opt for a handful of almonds instead of the mid morning muffin. If you have been working on balancing your blood sugar levels and are still experiencing symptoms mentioned above, you should be working with a practitioner to help you find the root cause.
- Manage your stress: We are living in a society where stress is unavoidable and is having a detrimental impact on our health. Putting things in place to reduce your stress wherever possible and change how you react to stress is fundamental to your Thyroid Health. This can include meditation, yoga and walking as well as making sleep and down time a priority by limiting our time on electronic devices and reducing stimulants like tea and sugar. If you are feeling overwhelmed and stress is constant for you, you should be working with a practitioner to help give you support and reduce your stress.
- Protect your Baby: Working to prevent hypothyroidism will help make those early exhausting days with a new infant more doable. More importantly, however, is that it may help ensure a healthier baby. When a woman goes into pregnancy with a leaky gut, blood sugar imbalances, multiple food intolerances, and adrenal fatigue, she may be putting her baby at risk for developing one of the increasingly common modern health disorders, including an autism spectrum disorder, eczema, asthma, food allergies, and food intolerances. 11,12,13,14,15,16
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