Hypothyroidism is a common health concern for pregnant women. It affects 2-3% of pregnancies and it is usually caused by an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s disease, which is when the immune system produces antibodies that attack the thyroid. Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland, and those who are affected by it typically suffer from a lack of energy, feeling cold, muscle cramps, constipation, and problems focusing.
For women who have hypothyroidism before getting pregnant, it’s important to closely monitor your thyroid levels. Pregnancy will alter the hormone levels in your body, so be sure to monitor your levels with your endocrinologist. Your baby is completely dependent on your thyroid for hormone production during the first 18-20 weeks of pregnancy, so you’ll want to make sure your levels are safe.
Roughly 2-3% of women develop hypothyroidism during pregnancy, and most cases are mild enough to not show any severe symptoms. Consult with your healthcare provider to ensure you are properly monitoring your thyroid levels throughout pregnancy. If left untreated, hypothyroidism could lead to preeclampsia (dangerous blood pressure spike late in pregnancy), anemia, low birthweight, miscarriage, stillbirth, and in rare cases congestive heart failure. These issues are more likely to occur in women with severe hypothyroidism during pregnancy.
While it’s not so uncommon to have thyroid problems during pregnancy, it’s easy to keep them under control as long as you’re maintaining healthy levels. Your doctor should regularly check your thyroid levels throughout pregnancy, but if you’re feeling any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, be sure to consult with them. Knowing the signs could help reduce your risk of developing hypothyroidism during pregnancy.
There are also many online support groups for expectant mothers that are full of resources. Knowledge is power, and for moms-to-be, the more knowledgeable you are about your risks, the more likely you are to prevent them.