A Baby A Graduation And a Move to the Country Pt. 2

I last left you with Part 1 of my story and Part 2 goes something like this…
After the crazy month of breastfeeding trials and my little one refusing to nurse and me solely pumping + making my own homemade formula to supplement, I decided to propose a Paleo challenge right here on this blog and start working out. S was three months old, I wasn’t feeling as tired and thought getting my body moving would do me wonders. So, thus began the Paleo Challenge. Eat Paleo and move your body for 60 days. Three weeks into it I knew something was wrong. I actually found the scale someone gave me and put batteries in it so I could use the thing. I’m not into scales or counting calories, but numbers in the form of pounds are needed and necessary sometimes. At that point I wasn’t sure if it was necessary, but I wanted to see if I was crazy because I know my body and my body wasn’t acting right and I knew it wasn’t because of baby #2. I got on the scale and was like, ‘Say what?’ I hadn’t lost a pound since the birth of my baby girl. Not 1 pound. She was three-months-old. I was breastfeeding, pumping, eating a ton, drinking as much as I could, taking fenugreek, drinking teas, eating a lot of grass-fed meats and healthy fats, and I started working out?? Nothing. I was also feeling super depressed and out of it and thought I had postpartum depression. I was so tired, my hair was falling out, my skin was dry and I felt senile. Literally. I kept burning pots and pans on the stove because I would forget they were on and I kept forgetting everything and I actually had stop myself and think of the next word I would want to say.  
I knew what was wrong.
I could bet $$ on it.
I went in to see my Oncologist for my yearly cancer check up and the first thing I said to him was, “Check my thyroid.” Sure, run my labs for my cancer checkup, but I really just want to know my thyroid levels. Because I was radiated in my chest cavity at 19, I have a 1 in 3 chance of getting breast cancer and/or heart disease in my lifetime and a high percentage for having a thyroid issue as well because of the radiation alone. When they do a yearly checkup for Hodgkin’s patients radiated in the chest cavity, they also run thyroid labs. I got a 2-for-1 that day. 😉
Thyroid
{photo: thyroid.com.au}
Three days later I called in to see if they had the results. They did. I spoke with the nurse. She read me my TSH: 6.5. A normal/optimal TSH thyroid level should be a .3-2 with the maximum level being a 3, but that is usually not optimal for most people. The nurse spoke with me over the phone and said my Oncologist felt my thyroid level was just slightly elevated, it was a postpartum thing, not to worry, he thought I had a healthy thyroid and to come back in a year to re-test to see if my levels had returned to normal. Say what? I was floored. By that time, I’d be locked up. Mentally, I was not doing well. Make that emotionally and physically, too. 
TSH Thyroid Range
Your thyroid gland plays a HUGE role in your body. Every cell in your body needs thyroid hormone. Your entire energy and metabolism production is dependent on this one, little gland (and many other organs, parts and factors, but without your thyroid working optimally, those other organs, parts and factors cannot do their job properly and you become a hay day a.k.a. Rama Pfeiffer, (me) postpartum).
What this meant for me was I was not losing weight at all, despite my efforts to eat Paleo, workout, drink tons of water and attempt to de-stress. It was also the reason for my brain fog, cold extremities, hair thinning/loss and sad mood. Your thyroid not working properly is no joke. For those of you who have gone through this or have a thyroid condition, you understand that it can affect every aspect of your life negatively if not properly treated. Well, I had a dilemma. Mine wasn’t permanent, I didn’t have Hypothyroidism…yet. So how would I go about treating this? If my own Oncologist sent me home and said come back in a year, what were my options? Should I demand he give me pharmaceuticals like Synthroid so I could function or wait it out in thyroid hell? Did I have any other options? At that time I knew nothing about the thyroid, we hadn’t covered it in class yet and I didn’t know anyone with a low thyroid. I started doing what I do best — researching the heck out of everything I could find.
The temporary condition is called Postpartum Thyroiditis, it was causing my insane symptoms and my low milk supply. It occurs in about 5-10% of women in the U.S. after giving birth. Postpartum Thyroiditis is when you have low levels of thyroid hormone in your blood. It mimics Hypothryoidism, specifically the autoimmune form of Hypothryoidism called Hashimoto’s Disease. In fact, doctors usually can’t differentiate between PPT and Hashi’s because both conditions usually test positive for anti-thyroid antibodies when blood tests are given. For reference, autoimmunity simply means your body attacks itself in some way or another, like its own thyroid tissue in this case. Doctors aren’t sure why this happens, only that once a pregnant women’s suppressed immune system reactivates after childbirth, it attacks the thyroid gland for reasons unknown or a person may have a possible asymptomatic autoimmune condition that has always been there and becomes active under these conditions. Postpartum thyroiditis usually resolves in 70% of women within 12-18 mths. after giving birth. The catch: It looks and feels exactly like Postpartum Depression. It also can cause low milk supply. If you or any woman you know is struggling with low milk supply, depression or can relate to any of these symptoms in this post, she should get her thyroid levels checked. All of them. I’ll write more on this in another post, but we have a flawed system when it comes to thyroid labs and testing, but at the very least have your doctor take a look at your thyroid and thyroid levels if you are struggling postpartum. 
I will say, I felt less ‘crazy’ after I got some answers. I was heartbroken over the fact I wasn’t able to solely breastfeed like I had wanted to and felt like such a failure when I tried just about everything. Even the different lactations specialists said things looked right to them as they monitored my nursing, yet nothing was working. I still had to supplement some.
making more milk
{I even read this book! Great resource, but I still struggled.}
It was relieving, yet also hard to hear what I thought to be true was in fact true. I didn’t want a problem with my thyroid. I wanted to feel good and get back into shape and have energy for myself and my kids. Apparently, this was not my path. These past few months have been rough, to say the least, but it has been almost a year now and things are looking up. I have had my thyroid levels checked twice since S was born and am due to go in this week for a third time. I started at a TSH of 6.5, began holistic treatments, got re-tested and it went down to a 4 rather quickly, we’ll see what my numbers are this time around. I will share in the next post or two what did end up helping me tremendously, it wasn’t pharmaceuticals! 
Have you dealt with Postpartum Thyroiditis, Postpartum Depression, low milk supply or currently have Hypothyroidism? What has worked for you? 

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6 Comments

  • Caitlin says:

    I couldn’t find the posts that explain what helped you through this, I would love to read about it if you have some tips! I’m not sure yet if I have a thyroid problem… I have an appointment at the end of the month with my doctor and I’m hoping to get some answers. Yet I’m hesitant, because I feel like they will either tell me I’m fine or put me on a bunch of meds… I would love some natural solutions. My biggest symptom is hair loss. Not the normal postpartum kind, (atleast I think) but my eyebrows and eyelashes are shedding like crazy and have not stopped since my last trimester of pregnancy. My baby is now five months old. I do sometimes feel a bit dazed/tired but I have lost all the baby weight easily. I feel like I’ve googled and researched so much and I really have not found answers. Do you think it could be postpartum thyroid problems? Or something else? Sorry for the long comment but I was so excited to see someone writing about this!

    • It totally could be, it could also be adrenals and both are interrelated, just make sure when you do get your thyroid labs drawn they run ALL of them including your anti-thyroid antibodies (thyroglobulin + thyroperoxidase). You can look up Chris Kresser, Hypothyroid Mom, Dr. Axe., Stop the Thyroid Madness to get the exact thyroid lab list you will need to have them run. Your TSH should be a 1-2 max, anything above that is not considered optimal, even though the docs will tell you it’s normal. You could also just be tired and depleted since baby and make sure you are eating plenty of paleo carbs, so you don’t go too under that can also cause fatigue and hair loss as well. Eat lots of sweet potatoes, squash and the like. I even did bone broth rice (recipe on my blog) to make sure I got enough carbs while nursing. I obviously don’t have the full picture here, but if you’d like a full assessment and for me to do an intake on you, that is always an option as I do take clients. But, get the proper lab work done and then you can go from there! Hang in there, postpartum times aren’t always easy!!

      Best,
      Rama (rayma)

    • Danielle says:

      I am going through the same exact issue and was wondering what Essential oils you used as some are not safe for breastfeeding, and that is my conundrum. If you could please let me know I would appreciate it!

  • Caitlin says:

    I should also add that I am 20 years old, and live a healthy active lifestyle. I have been eating a paleo diet for two months now and am still on prenatals as well as a couple other additional supplements.

  • Marsha Ramesar-Babu says:

    I just went in to see my chiropractor and like you I have been feeling the same things. My Mom actually has some thyroid issues, so here I am feeling the effects of heredity. But I have lab work coming in a few days and I feel relieved that this *hopefully* fingers-crossed is post-partum related. My sweet bub is approaching 11 months and have noticed a decreased in breastmilk output. My hair was falling out and I felt mentally worn out. The brain fog!! Oh boy! I will be reading more! The other thing is I am vegetarian but became limited to what I can eat because of LO’s wheat and dairy-related eczema. So I thought, well I’m not eating enough so maybe that’s why I’m not making enough milk! Thanks a Million for the Goat’s milk DIY formula. My older son has been drinking goat’s milk shortly after his 1st birthday- Mama’s choice- and is fine. Again… your blog is heaven-sent!!

    • Thank you Marsha! I need to write a follow-up! Low thyroid is the worst, I hope you feel better soon and ask for Nature-throid if they want to put you on anything.

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