Could your weight issue be postpartum thyroiditis?

by NARELLE STEGEHUIS

Nine months of pregnancy is exhausting and every bit of the pain seems worth it when you hold your baby in your arms for the first time.

A moment you will never forget!

This being said. Many women still feel like a train wreck months after the "magical" date of six weeks post-partum and wonder when & how am I going to get my life back?

The reality of motherhood is that life after a baby means that you really don't have much time - any time for yourself. A typical day in the life with a baby is five feeds, five or six nappy changes, clothes changes at least twice (more when your baby is a Vomit Monster), bath time, play time, walk and stories. You also need to prepare food, wash up vomit, clean all their stuff - and that's before you even do one thing for yourself.

Most childcare books offer paternalistic advice and warnings about everything from changing the cat litter to the question, "Do you need an enema?" It's no surprise that they offer little comfort.

Often the conspiracy of silence surrounding those first few months can leave you feeling like you are the only one facing a minefield of identity crisis, confusion, out-of-control emotions, exhaustion, lasting physical pain, and sometimes mourning for your former life.

Many chronic illnesses in new mothers go untreated, because symptoms are mistaken for common complaints of sleep-deprived parents. "Well, you just had a baby" can answer for a lot of problems, but sometimes there is more to the story.

Look out for these symptoms of hormonal imbalance

  • being very emotional and upset having trouble budging 'the' weight
  • tearfulness for no apparent reason
  • being tense an anxious
  • diffulculty sleeping
  • low libido
  • constant worry about minor problems\
  • tiredness & lethargy

Nearly all new mothers find that the weeks and months following the birth of a baby are difficult - most report some pain after childbirth, worry over the baby's health, sleep deprivation, feeding anxiety, especially if the baby is not nursing well, fatigue, mental confusion, and of course, the infamous "baby blues." While all these symptoms are normal, most disappear within a few months.

But some women suffer more intense, longer-lasting postpartum troubles that can threaten their own and their baby's health - and these troubles may be directly related to the thyroid.

"...as many as 10 percent of women may suffer thyroid problems after childbirth."


If you feel exhausted, depressed or are having trouble concentrating beyond the initial postpartum period, or you are really struggling more than other new mothers with debilitating fatigue, hair loss, and depression, you should ask your doctor to check your thyroid levels.

Postpartum thyroid difficulties are common - as many as 10 percent of women may suffer thyroid problems after childbirth. Thyroid disease can surface in someone who has never had thyroid problems before.

Postpartum thyroiditis is a condition in which the thyroid becomes inflamed and dysfunctional after delivery, due to antibodies. Antithyroid antibodies circulate in the body, causing either too much or too little thyroid hormone to be released. Too much thyroid hormone will cause you to have an overactive thyroid gland, while too little will result in an underactive thyroid.

Postpartum thyroiditis typically follows a pattern: at first, you become hyperthyroid, and might feel breathless, nervous, mentally confused, have unexplained weight loss, or trouble sleeping. This phase usually appears anytime between one and four months after the birth of the baby.

In the second phase, which usually shows up three to eight months postpartum, the body's hormones are again out of whack. Instead of releasing too much thyroid hormone, the body releases too little and you become hypothyroid. Symptoms of this stage might be depression, fatigue, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, and an enlarged thyroid gland or sensation of pressure in your neck.

Once you've had an episode of postpartum thyroid problems, you are much more likely to later develop a thyroid problem during a period of stress, subsequent pregnancy, or during menopause.The myth that a woman should be able to quickly bounce back to her pre-baby figure, attitude, work schedule, and sex life places unnecessary pressures upon a new mum. There is a sobering reality of hope: life will be chaotic for a while, but a new type of normalcy will finally descend. And while the chaos is happening, a new mother needs to be pampered and cherished, just as much as the new baby in her life. A new mother needs to be affirmed in the momentous accomplishment of birth.

Things instantly change when a woman gives birth, and we are taught to expect that. But how things change often take women by surprise: the intensity of emotions, unexpected strains in marriage, a new connection with in-laws, and unintended disconnection from friends without children. All of these new circumstances require time and solitude to process, two luxuries new mothers rarely have.

But if you can revisit a few of your pre-baby interests, such as relationships, exercise or creative pursuits, you and your child will reap the benefits. You're a better mother to your kids if you can take care of yourself. Mothers should try to integrate one or more pre-baby interests gradually back into their schedules when that's realistic.

Once you agree to nurture yourself as well as your child, you face purely logistical hurdles to getting your life - a new version of it - back.

Banish the guilt Many new moms find that guilt gets in the way of rekindling old interests. Our society holds impossible standards for the 'ideal' mother. She's selfless, endlessly patient and devoted, putting her children first to the exclusion of everything else. Given this standard, it's no wonder that taking time out for a jog, manicure or more importantly, eating a nutritious diet; can seem selfish.

Carve out a little time for yourself, since you can't keep giving without replenishing. If you don't participate in activities that make you feel whole, you won't be happy and relaxed enough to fully engage with your child. This, can sometimes lead to feelings of resentment, even meltdowns (yours, followed by your partners).

Couple up. Whether you go out once a week or once a month, spending time alone with your partner reinforces your family's strong foundation. It's important to first make time for your relationship with your partner since everything else flows from that.

Don't wait It's crucial to rekindle your passions early on, rather than waiting until your baby reaches milestones (like sleeping through the night) you think will make life easier. "With kids, there's no right time. Just jump in and do it, whatever it is. It helps you be who you are, and you'll feel better for it in the end.

Think outside the box
In the haze of sleep deprivation, problems can seem more complicated than they are. Look for creative solutions. Can't go to the gym three times a week for lack of a regular babysitter? Find a gym that offers babysitting, as many YMCAs do. Or invest in a stair-stepper and in a good stroller for walking. Need occasional free time to run errands? Initiate a baby swap with a friend.

Of course, even with prioritizing, getting your life back takes time. Acknowledging this is half the battle. The postpartum period requires three attributes: patience, realistic expectations and resilience.

Remember - as I tell my other half - "if the woman of the house is happy, everyone is happy!"

Narelle Stegehuis is a recognised leading specialist in naturally treating hormonal imbalances. She is a professional member and supporter of the Australian Thyroid and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Associations.  Narelle runs  www.massattack.com.au

 

 
Banner