On Labor Day Monday my husband and I welcomed our baby daughter into the world! As appropriate as it was to deliver on this national holiday, it also began my journey into postpartum. Since then my thyroid levels have continued to sway from one side of the spectrum to the other.
Prior to my due date I had a routine blood test to check my Thyroid Stimulating Hormone levels. My thyroid level was at a 2.2 mIU/L which fell within the recommended guidelines by the American Thyroid Association.
When I was six weeks postpartum, I had a scheduled visit with my endocrinologist, which also included blood tests to screen my thyroid levels. Days leading up to the visit I was experiencing symptoms that many women postpartum claim to endure, regardless of whether they have a known thyroid condition or not. For me, 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 with a TSH at .58, which is right on the cusp of hyperthyroidism for women. The recommended normal TSH range for women is anywhere between .5 to 4.5/5.0 mIU/L.
From there my endocrinologist lowered the daily medication I was taking and recommended I come back in six weeks for a follow up blood test. Come mid-November, my blood work indicated a jump from .58 to 3.3. I was still experiencing 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 was still feeling tired.
Prior to pregnancy I felt more like myself when my TSH levels were around a 1.0 mIU/L. I spoke further with my endocrinologist about next steps after the 3.3 test result. His recommendation was to make a slight increase in my medication and in six weeks come back for another blood test.
As for breastfeeding, his recommendation is to let him know as soon as I start the weaning process. He said many women experience another change in thyroid hormone levels once they start to wean. Once I start that process, we will need to monitor my levels again to make any further adjustments to my medication.
What has helped
Postpartum has been another season within the season of my thyroid journey. I will admit I was dismissing some of the symptoms I was having during the first few weeks postpartum, simply because I heard and read that many women experience hair loss, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue etc. during postpartum; it’s part of the process as the body adjusts. But as I was starting to see more and more hyperthyroid symptoms arise weeks after delivery, I knew I needed to speak up and consult my endocrinologist.
To be honest, the postpartum process hasn’t been easy. Some days I feel more like myself than others. I know that in due time my body will acclimate and find that new normal.
During this season, I’m doing what I can to be good to myself. Writing, blogging, walking, swimming and running have become great outlets for me. Making small obtainable goals like getting out at least once a day, getting at least one thing done around the house, and reaching out to friends from church has helped as I try to balance the hormonal adjustments and life with a young infant.
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.