So by now we know that it is very important to let our doctors know if we have thyroid problems upon becoming pregnant. Just as a reminder, if thyroid conditions remain unchecked during pregnancy, it could result in the following health problems for you as the mother: pre-eclampsia and/or early labor, placental abnormalities or prolonged and unusual bleeding after delivery.
Additionally, unchecked thyroid conditions could result in the following health problems for your baby: fetal tachycardia (fast heart rate), small for gestational age babies, prematurity, stillbirths, congenital malformations, neonatal hyperthyroidism (rare if mom is on drug therapy for hyperthyroidism), and impaired brain development.
If who are having unusual symptoms and suspect it may be your thyroid, don’t be afraid to request that your doctor look into the matter. So, we’ve got that down.
Now, say you are a mother who has just given birth. Your doctor has told you that more than likely you will experience postpartum thyroiditis due to your previous medical history. Just what does that mean? First of all, let’s just break down those two words. Postpartum means after delivery or after you’ve had your baby. Thyroiditis means the swelling of the thyroid. This is basically a general word used to describe a whole host of thyroid conditions, including postpartum thyroiditis.
According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), women can start to experience the first phase of postpartum thyroiditis within one to four months after delivery. This is the thyrotoxic phase. The thyrotoxic phase will last for one to three months. The symptoms of this phase are: anxiety, insomnia, palpitations, fatigue, weight loss, and irritability. The ATA additionally reports that since these conditions are normally attributed to the stress of having a baby, this stage may be missed altogether.
The next phase will normally occur four to eight months after delivery, lasting nine to twelve months thereafter. This is the hypothyroidism phase. Symptoms are as follows: fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, depression and poor exercise tolerance.
The good news is that most women will regain normal use of their thyroid within twelve to eighteen months of the initial presentation of symptoms. However, the bad news is that the ATA reports that approximately 20 percent of those who experience the hypothyroid phase will continue to have this condition.
As far as treatment goes, it really depends on when this condition is diagnosed. As stated before, sometimes it’s confused with other things, including depression. If the doctor catches this condition at the thyrotoxic phase, then beta blockers will be prescribed. This reduces any palpitations and tremors. When symptoms improve, medications prescribed are decreased. Lastly, in the hypothyroid phase, most are treated with thyroid hormone replacements. This is only if the hypothyroidism is a bad enough case. If the case is mild, then monitoring is needed only. The hormone therapy can last up to six to twelve months and is decreased with monitoring.
Remember, continue to be informed and prepared so you and baby can be healthy and happy!
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Thanks for a very informative and interesting article. The thyroid is so small, and yet has such complex effects on our bodies. I learned a lot from your post that I'd not known before. Thanks again.August 11, 2009 - 8:20am