Lyons Optimal Wellness, Cliff Colgan, Nutrition Therapist
Many women come to my office and complain that they started to feel tired, depressed, “shaky” or just not themselves soon after the delivery of a child. Often it is not after the first child, but the second or third baby, that these symptoms occur.
There can be several reasons for these complaints but they are often traced to:
- Shifts in immune function during and after pregnancy
- Shifts in hormone function during and after pregnancy
- Already existing stressors to the body (blood sugar imbalances, food intolerances, intestinal infections, other autoimmune conditions that tip the balance and cause symptoms).
- Genetic tendency
These changes can trigger the immune system to inflame the cells of the thyroid gland located on either side of your throat. The thyroid gland releases thyroid hormone, which tells your cells to burn the energy from your food at the correct rate. Too little thyroid hormone and you feel tired, too much thyroid and you feel jumpy. When the immune system in a pregnant woman gets activated by changing hormone levels, the thyroid can be attacked by white blood cells. About seven percent of women having a baby complain of swollen thyroid glands 2 to 4 months after pregnancy. This autoimmune condition of inflamed thyroid is called thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s. After the baby is delivered, post partum thyroiditis can be a large reason for postpartum depression and fatigue. Eighty percent of women with postpartum thyroiditis return to normal thyroid function around the one-year mark, however, 30 to 50 percent develop permanent hypothyroidism within nine years.
Some women may have an activated immune system before they get pregnant. Testing for antibodies to important thyroid proteins such as TPO and HGB would indicate the presence of this immune activity.
What can you do before you become pregnant to lessen the chances of thyroid inflammation and the low thyroid hormone production that follows?
- Identify and correct blood sugar imbalances
- Identify and eliminate food intolerances
- Have lab tests done to identify gut infections (candida, h. pylori, other bacterial infections). Take herbal-based supplements to address these infections.
- Support the immune system with foods and supplements that supply vitamin D, glutathione, and other antioxidants.
Working to prevent hypothyroidism will help make those early exhausting days with a new infant more doable. More importantly, however, is that it may help ensure a healthier baby.
When a woman goes into pregnancy with a leaky gut, blood sugar imbalances, multiple food intolerances, and adrenal fatigue, I believe she is putting her baby at risk for developing one of the increasingly common modern health disorders including an autism spectrum disorder, eczema, asthma, food allergies, and food intolerances.
Researchers are increasingly finding that autoimmune disorders are at the root of many cases of autism, with the immune system attacking brain or nerve tissue of the child. Children born with an immune system that is a ticking time bomb are vulnerable to anything that can launch a self-attack, whether it is a vaccine, food intolerance, blood sugar imbalance, or heavy metal toxicity.
Of course nobody knowingly or purposely brings such things to a child, but given the state of the average American’s health, I feel addressing these factors can decrease the risk that a child will be born with one of the immune conditions so common today.
Cliff Colgan MS, Nutrition Therapy Practitioner can be reach at 303-8298-6109 for more information.