After I had my baby, my hair fell out big time. But that had happened after all my babies (and is typical for new moms), so I didn’t think anything of it. But now, 9 months after I’ve had my baby, my hair is still falling out (although not as much as before), plus I’m jittery, more anxious than usual, and I’m having a hard time falling asleep at night. I’m also dizzy during the day.
I just didn’t feel right, so I went to my OB/GYN and had a blood test. The result: my thyroid levels were way off. After doing some research, I found out that it’s very common for new moms to experience thyroid dysfunction—either hyperthyroidism like I have (where the body is producing too much of the thyroid hormone) or hypothyroidism (when the body doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone). One expert explanation is that the stress of pregnancy and the birth can trigger this.
Here are the basic facts every new mom needs to know:
1) The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found in the front of the neck. It’s responsible for regulating so many of the functions in our body: our metabolism, our hair growth, our sleep, our energy…
2) Thyroid levels are measured by something called TSH (or thyroid stimulating hormone). If your TSH levels are low, that means there’s too much thyroid hormone circulating in the body so the TSH is not being produced. If your TSH levels are high, that means you’re not producing enough of the thyroid hormone and the TSH is sending out more signals to produce more.
3) Your OB/GYN can test for it if you suspect something is off. And if the levels are high or low, she’ll refer you to an endocrinologist, as mine did.
4) The symptoms vary. In my case (of hyperthyroidism), the symptoms are insomnia; dry, itchy skin; hair loss; tremors (my hands and legs shake if I’m sitting still) and dizziness; racing heart; irritability (my husband wanted to know if this was a symptom because I’m yelling more than usual!); mind racing… and more. Also, a symptom: if you’re losing more weight than usual (this is hard to determine if you still have pregnancy weight to lose) or not losing weight no matter what you do. Do a symptom check online if you think your thyroid might be out of whack.
Taking care of yourself is so important; you have to have the strength and energy to take care of your baby — and yourself. So if you suspect something is wrong, see a doctor! She’ll prescribe a medication to get your thyroid back on track.
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© Valerie Latona LLC 2012