‘I’m so tired.’ A look at Postpartum Thyroiditis

Fatigue. Weight gain. Hair Loss. Anxiety. Irritability. Sounds like just a few of the things that we all may experience shortly after delivering our bundles of joy. But sometimes it is more than just having a new baby. Most of us are familiar with postpartum depression and anxiety, but what was something that was brand new to me as a first time mom? Postpartum thyroiditis.

After having my first child in November 2013, I experienced many of the ups and downs that a lot of mothers feel during that first year. I was sleep deprived and hungry all the time (thank you, breastfeeding) and didn’t pay much attention to how I was feeling, except I thought it all was normal. Fast forward to summer 2014 when my son was about 8 months old. I was still about 40 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight, and I was SO drained and had a hard time concentrating. I attributed it all to being a new mom. I told myself “Aren’t we all tired?” and “I’m probably holding on to that extra weight because I was breastfeeding, some people don’t lose the weight until after weaning.” Oh and anxiety? Yeah, I worried All. The. Time. Even before kids. I simply thought it was normal.

I started working out and watching what I ate and the scale wasn’t moving. My son was sleeping 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and taking good naps. I was still taking sometimes hour long naps as well and dragging every day. It got me thinking maybe something was up. Of course I turned to Dr. Google, and I figured it was worth a doctor visit. A quick call to my doc and some lab work had my OB calling and texting me at night (she’s the best) wanting me to see someone as soon as possible. Naturally, I freaked out.

I found out my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was at 60. The normal range is .5-4.5/5, according to my doctor. Then I got a diagnosis, postpartum thyroiditis. I was glad to know what was causing my extreme fatigue and lack of weight loss, but wasn’t sure what the next steps were, if this was a lifelong thing and how it could affect my health long-term. To start, I went on Synthroid and got to feeling normal again. I started losing the weight, while maintaining my supply. At about 20 months postpartum, my TSH level was at 0, so I gladly went off of medication, My levels have since remained in the normal range. At about 25 months postpartum, I found out I was expecting again. We monitored my numbers carefully throughout my second pregnancy and are continuing to watch it postpartum this time around.

Postpartum thyroiditis may affect about 5% of women after giving birth. It can be easy to miss or mistake for something else because the symptoms are so interchangeable with what many moms feel after having a baby! It’s also one of those conditions that it is unknown as to what exactly causes it. And if you have it once, you are about 20% more likely to develop it again after subsequent pregnancies.

Looking back, I wish I would’ve gone to my doctor months before, and perhaps I could have had more energy that first year of his life. And if anything, I would have found out the reason why I felt the way I did.

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