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How to protect your Thyroid during Pregnancy

Posted on 12th August 2018


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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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


1. Krysiak R, Okopien B, Szxkrobka W, Herman ZS. [Thyroid disorders in pregnancy and after delivery] [Article in Polish] Przegl Lek 2007;64(3):159-64.

2. Tsigo C, Chrousos GP. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, neuroendocrine factors and stress. J Psychosom Res 2002 Oct;53(4):865-71.

3. Rettori V, Jurcovicova J, McCann SM. Central action of interleukin-1 in altering the release of TSH, growth hormone, and prolactin in the male rat. J Neurosci Res 1987;18:179-183.

4. Bartalena L, Grasso L, Brogioni S, et al. Interleukin-6 on pituitary-thyroid-axis in the rat. Eur J Endocrinol1994;131:302-306.

5. Lyson K, McCann SM. The effect of interleukin-6 on pituitary hormone release in vivo and vitro. Neuroendocrinology1991;54:262-266.

6. Ozawa M, Sato K, Han DC, et al. Effects of tumor necrosis factor-alpha/cachetin on thyroid hormone metabolism in mice. Endocrinology 1998;123:1461-1467.

7. Rettori V, Milenkovic L, Beutler BA, et al. Hypothalamus action of catechin to alter pituitary hormone release. Brain Res Bull 1989;23:471-475.

8. Stagnaro-Green A.  Clinical review 152: postpartum thyroiditis.  J Clin Endocrinol Metab.  2002;87:4024-7.

9. Premawardhaha LD, et al.  Postpartum thyroiditis and long-term thyroid status: prognostic influence of thyroid peroxidase antibodies and ultrasound echogenicity.  J Clin Endocrinol Metab.  2000;85:71-5.

10. Stagnaro-Green A.  Clinical review 152: postpartum thyroiditis.  J Clin Endocrinol Metab.  2002;87:4024-7.

11. Sex-specific programming of offspring emotionality after stress early in pregnancy. J Neurosci 2008 Sep3;28(36):9055-65.

12. Activation of the maternal immune system alters cerebellar development in the offspring. Brain Behav Immun 2008 Aug 9.

13. Preliminary evidence for a modulation of fetal depaminergic development by maternal immune activation during pregnancy. Neuroscience 2008 Jun 23;154(2):701-9. Epub 2008 Apr 25.

14. Maternal infection leads to abnormal gene regulation and brain atrophy in mouse offspring: implications for genesis of neurodevelopmental disorders. Schizophr Res 2008 Feb;99(1-3):56-70. Epub 2008 Jan 9.

15. Maternal autoimmune diseases, asthama and allergies, and childhood autism spectrum disorders: a case-control study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 205 Feb;159(2):151-7.

16. Maternal health in pregnancy and intellectual disability in the offspring: a population-based study. Ann Epidemiol 2006 Jun;16(6):448-54. Epub 2005 Sep 22.