From the day you find out you’re pregnant, to the day you give birth, there’s a whole lot of planning and preparation in between. A lot to do with the baby’s health, your health, all the way down to what the nursery looks like. However, this guide will focus on one very specific health issue that’s common in many pregnant women. Thyroid issues.
By far, the most common form of thyroid issues is hyperthyroidism. This is when your thyroid produces far more hormones than it should. Symptoms may include irregular heartbeat, memory problems, and unexplained weight loss. Hyperthyroidism in many cases is caused by Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder. Graves’ disease causes your immune system to produce TSI, thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin. This occurs in 1 to 4 of every 1,000 pregnancies. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, or have been previously diagnosed with Graves’ disease, it’s important to talk with your doctor – as untreated hyperthyroidism may lead to serious complications such as: miscarriage, premature birth, and low birth weight, to name a few.
Not only does your thyroid control your metabolism in your everyday life, it’s also something your developing baby will depend upon. During the first trimester, your baby will be busy developing their own thyroid. During that time, they’ll be receiving the hormones produced by mom’s thyroid. These very important hormones are responsible for the healthy growth of your baby’s brain and nervous system. During the second trimester, your baby’s thyroid will begin to produce enough hormones for themselves.
Not all thyroid dysfunction can be avoided during pregnancy, but there are definitely some ways you can reduce your risk of developing prenatal or postpartum thyroid problems. Here are a few:
In order for your thyroid to produce its hormones in the first place, it requires iodine. A diet sufficient in eggs, seafood, meat, poultry, and iodized salt will help ensure your thyroid gets the fuel it needs. And for any pregnant, vegan or vegetarian mothers – you can also take a supplement. You’ll need about 250 micrograms a day. However, it’s important to go over a diet plan with your doctor as too much iodine can have a reverse effect.
2: No Smoking
While smoking is already generally regarded as bad, it’s definitely bad in the case of your thyroid’s health, and more importantly – your baby’s health. Smoking can also cause the acceleration of Graves’ hyperthyroidism.
3: Neck Checks
One of the most proactive ways to help reduce the risk of thyroid issues is to do consistent neck checks. There’s two ways you can achieve this. Either by the touch method, or the swallowing method. For the swallowing method: Look into a mirror, tilt your head up slightly, swallow a sip of water, and look for any protrusions or lumps as the water goes down. Try this a couple times and take a mental note of anything that looks odd.
The touch method, however, is more likely to provide some results. Gently touch your thyroid gland (just below your Adam’s apple), and again, note down any bumps or protrusions. If either of these methods provide any results, it’s important you bring them to your doctor’s attention, even if you think it’s nothing.
All-in-all, the health of your thyroid is equally important for your growing baby as it is for you. We hope that shedding some light on the importance of thyroid health and how to help prevent any complications has helped ease your mind.