Some women know they have HT before they become pregnant. Others develop it while they are pregnant.
This can be tricky. Hashimoto’s disease can be harder to diagnose during pregnancy because it has many of the same symptoms as normal pregnancy, such as fatigue and weight gain. However, untreated slow thyroid such as HT during pregnancy can affect the baby’s growth and brain development.
See your doctor for blood tests
You can see a regular doctor for blood tests related to your thyroid function. If they find you have a slow thyroid, in 90% of cases, it will be due to HT.
Follow up with an endocrinologist. They have extensive experience in dealing with HT and can help you individualize your treatment plan.
HT can be a bit of a steep learning curve, but it is important to take the time because there are many things you can do to improve your thyroid help without having to resort to lots of medications. If you are pregnant, lots of medications will usually not be an option anyway because many of them can cross the placenta and affect your unborn child.
Another key reason to learn as much as you can about HT is that not every gynecologist or obstetrician will be that familiar with HT and endocrine issues, so you may actually have to help educate them in reference to your care.
Thyroid hormone treatment might protect against heart disease. If a screening test reveals you have a mildly underactive thyroid without symptoms, talk to your doctor about your options,
The final but most critical reason is that thyroid issues can lead to various health issues in pregnancy for mother and baby.
How thyroid hormone affects the baby
The unborn baby’s brain and nervous system need thyroid hormone to develop. During the first 3 months, the baby relies on mother’s level of thyroid hormone, so if it is low, this can be a problem. By around the 10th to 12th week of pregnancy, the baby’s thyroid should start to work on its own.
However, the baby will still need to get iodine from the mother. Iodine is used to manufacture thyroid hormone. Most people get enough iodine naturally, but in pregnant women, they are recommended to almost double their intake and consume around 250 micrograms (mcg) of iodine a day.
Some women might not get all the iodine they need through the foods they eat, or pre-natal vitamins. In this case, they can eat more foods rich in iodine, such as fish and seafood.
Other risks of a slow thyroid during pregnancy
Untreated or poorly treated HT can result in a range of pregnancy-related problems, including:
- Placental abruption
The placenta partially or completely separates from the uterus before a baby’s born, leading to potentially life-threatening complications for mother and baby, including loss of oxygen and nutrients for the child and uncontrolled internal bleeding for the mother. It occurs in 1 in 150 pregnancies, usually after the 20th week.
- Preeclampsia (PRE-ee-CLAMP-see-ah)
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication which causes high blood pressure, kidney damage, and other problems. It can be life-threatening and occurs in about 5% of pregnant women in the United States.
- Heavy post-partum bleeding after they baby is born
It also can cause serious problems for the baby, such as:
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Birth defects
- Thyroid problems in the baby
Following your treatment plan
Keep all your doctor’s appointments with your endocrinologist and ob/gyn. The common treatment for slow thyroid is the synthetic hormone levothyroxine. It is safe to use during pregnancy and necessary for the health of the baby. You will usually need more because of the baby.
Take exactly as your doctor instructs and get blood tests every 6 to 8 weeks make sure that your thyroid hormone levels are within a healthy range. After you have your baby, you should be able to get back to your pre-pregnancy dose.