Most women accept that there will be some degree of discomfort at some point during pregnancy and the birthing process. From carrying the extra weight to changes in her body to accommodate a little visitor to the mechanics of the actual delivery, it’s not always going to be a ride in the park. But the end result of a new little life to call their own would usually be enough for many to say in the end that it was worth it.
That said, if one knew there were going to be undue complications that could jeopardize the health of the mother or the baby during these times, more women may not be as eager to embark on the journey of pregnancy. Granted, there could always be unforeseen problems that could arise during such a complicated process. But if forewarned about indicators that may signal there could be a potential problem, there would be a chance to take corrective action.
We know women need normal thyroid hormone levels to support a healthy pregnancy, but could unhealthy levels indicate that problems may be more likely? According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, pregnant women with thyroid disorders may be at a greater risk for premature delivery or other complications during pregnancy.
Ladies, Check Your Engines
In the study, researchers examined medical records from more than 223,000 pregnancies. What they found was that women who were dealing with thyroid conditions while they were pregnant were at higher risk of having complications such as:
- Preeclampsia (increased blood pressure and protein in the urine)
- Gestational diabetes
- Preterm births
- C-sections and labor inductions
Not exactly the type of things you’d say would add to the joy of bringing a new life into the world, right? Especially if these complications may lead to other health issues for mom or baby later down the road. With an estimation that there are roughly 80,000 women with thyroid issues who become pregnant each year, more women ought to pay attention to how well their thyroid is functioning if they are thinking about becoming pregnant.
Obviously, if you know you have a thyroid condition, monitoring your hormone levels will help you know if you are in a good state or not. But everything doesn’t depend on just your TSH and T4 lab values. Having healthy liver and intestinal function is necessary for proper thyroid hormone conversion, so eliminating digestive issues would be a good first preventative step. If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, blood sugar imbalances can negatively affect your thyroid function, so getting that under control before becoming pregnant would be a smart move. Lastly, the autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, where the body attacks its own thyroid, has become the leading cause of thyroid disease in the U.S. and is frequently missed on diagnosis if the proper tests aren’t run to detect it.
If you are thinking about becoming pregnant in the future and have questions about your thyroid health due to issues like:
- poor energy
- brain fog
- hair loss
- weak nails
- low libido
- weight gain
- feeling cold all the time
then it may be a good time to get your thyroid fully checked to ensure your body will be at its healthiest to support a good pregnancy and decrease risks for you or your baby. And if you do know you have a thyroid condition, we encourage you to do all you can beyond just taking medications to ensure that you are giving your body every chance to function at its best.
Don’t know where you stand? Give our office a call and we can ensure that you get the proper tests run to fully assess where your current health status lies, and more importantly, how to improve it for the sake of your future health (and maybe someone else’s…?)