Two years ago I underwent a partial thyroidectomy due to an inch size growth on the left side of my thyroid. Post surgery I learned that I was cancer-free, but I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I started taking daily thyroid medication, and seven months later I began the autoimmune mom journey.
Due to this thyroid autoimmune condition, throughout pregnancy my thyroid levels were monitored every two weeks with a simple blood test (read more about my pregnancy journey here). The blood test checked my TSH, T3, T4, and free thyroxine levels.
Prior to the due date, my TSH was at a 2.2 mIU/L which fell within the recommended guidelines by the American Thyroid Association. But throughout the pregnancy, my thyroid levels fell above and below these recommended guidelines which required adjustments to medication as needed.
When I was six weeks postpartum, I had a scheduled visit with my endocrinologist which included the blood tests to screen all of my thyroid levels. Days leading up to the visit I was experiencing symptoms that many women claim to endure during postpartum. These symptoms included night sweats, hair loss, an increased resting heart rate, and frequent trips to the bathroom. My symptoms confirmed what I sensed in my gut. The blood work came back and my TSH was at .58, which is right on the cusp of hyperthyroidism. The recommended normal TSH range for women is anywhere between .5 to 4.5/5.0 mIU/L.
From there my endocrinologist reviewed the other lab results and decided to lower my daily medication and recommended I come back in six weeks for follow up blood work. Come mid-November, blood work indicated my TSH jumped from .58 to 3.3. I was still experiencing some hair loss and night sweats, meanwhile many of the other hyperthyroid symptoms subsided. Even though I was starting to get more sleep at night, I still felt sluggish.
Prior to pregnancy I felt more like myself when my TSH level was around a 1.0 uIU/ML. I spoke further with my endocrinologist about next steps after the 3.3 test result. After his review, he recommended a slight increase in my medication and in six weeks get another round of blood tests drawn.
By the end of January my TSH was at a .96 mIU/L. I was still breastfeeding, and feeling great, so no adjustment to the medication was needed. My endocrinologist recommended I stay on the current dose, and come back for blood work six weeks after I stopped breastfeeding.
By early June the lab work showed my TSH was at a 3.6 mIU/L. After reviewing it along with the free thyroxine test results, an adjustment was made to my daily thyroid medication. Interestingly enough, I went back on the same dose of thyroid medication that was prescribed for me after giving birth. Further blood work has been ordered as part of monitoring my thyroid levels throughout the first year postpartum.
At my six week OB/GYN postpartum appointment, I learned that once I stopped breastfeeding my thyroid levels would probably go back to normal. I also learned I would probably be able to take the same level of thyroid medication I was on prior to pregnancy. While this was encouraging to hear at the time, at nine months postpartum I feel tired, my mind is a bit foggy, and it’s taking time to get back to a regular monthly cycle. I believe my thyroid levels will eventually level off, and I won’t need as many adjustments to medication. I admit it’s taking a bit longer than I had hoped, though.
So how am I coping while the hormones are trying to stabilize? Well, I’m trying to adopt the mantra ‘baby steps.’ For example, I have made a health and fitness goal to run my first half marathon this fall. Running any long distance can be a daunting task, but I’ve found a great training plan that breaks it down one week at a time. I’ve also been reading more of the Bible with the hope of eventually reading it cover to cover in one year. To help, I started a daily reading plan which breaks certain sections of the Bible down over the course of several days.
Something else that has been helpful is changing my diet. Eight months ago I took some ‘baby steps’ with a gluten free approach. I started substituting certain foods, like pasta, with gluten free alternatives sold at our local grocery store. I’ve come to adopt this way of eating on a more regular basis. Furthermore, my endocrinologist was supportive of this decision, knowing that a gluten free diet helps decrease common Hashimoto’s symptoms like constipation and inflammation.
About the Author
Stacey Thureen currently works on a variety of communications and media projects for small businesses, non-profits, print media, and production. Whether it is writing, producing, or speaking Stacey enjoys working on projects that teach, inspire, and give perspective and a sense of purpose to others. Stacey continues to be an active voice in raising thyroid awareness. She was featured in the January 2012 edition of Empower Magazine and writes about thyroid health for Examiner.com. To read more about Stacey’s thyroid journey postpartum, please visit her blog at http://www.staceythureen.com.