Pregnancy can put a lot of stress upon your thyroid gland. Pregnant women and thyroid disease often go hand in hand.
Pregnancy causes an increase in estrogen (the primary female sex hormone) and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which is the thyroid measured in a pregnancy test. These increases stimulate the release of thyroid hormones.
The old line that you're eating for two may not be true but, particularly during your first trimester, you will be providing thyroid hormones for two while your baby's brain is growing.
After the first trimester, the baby's thyroid starts producing its own thyroid hormone. In order to be able to make its thyroid hormones, though, your baby still relies on you to consume enough iodine for the both of you.
Hyperthyroidism, which involves levels of thyroid hormones that are too high, affects one in 1500 pregnancies. However, hyperthyroidism may not be recognized and diagnosed as it can mimic many aspects of pregnancy.
Undiagnosed and untreated hyperthyroidism in a pregnant woman can result in labor that begins too early, putting the baby at risk, and in pre-eclampsia (also called toxemia or pregnancy-induced hypertension).
Very high levels of HCG may be linked to morning sickness and may cause transient (temporary) hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism, like Graves' disease, can lead to a severe condition known as thyroid storm. Thyroid storm also goes by the names thyrotoxic storm, hyperthyroid storm and accelerated hyperthyroidism.
Thyroid storm is characterized by severe agitation, confusion and restlessness. Diarrhea, fever, shaking and sweating, with a pounding heart are other symptoms. The emergence of thyroid storm requires immediate medical attention.
Hyperthyroidism may improve in the third trimester, and then reappear postpartum.
During the three to six months after delivery, about 5 percent of women will be hit with thyroiditis. In this condition, hyperthyroidism rears up first, and then a period of hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormones) moves in.
After this, the thyroid will return to normal. During these transitions, life can be a roller coaster ride for a new mother.