Postpartum Fatigue or Thyroid Disease?

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: Thyroid & Hormone Balance Leave a Comment

Is it really just postpartum fatigue or could it be thyroid disease?

Look, we’ve got some serious issues in medicine…especially women’s medicine. As women, our symptoms often go dismissed or unheard…or worse…we are offered a band-aid pharmaceutical or invasive surgery for what is so simply a hormone imbalance. 

This is no different for new moms and you'd be surprised just how often thyroid disease is dismissed as postpartum fatigue in moms.

Let Me Share Anna's Story with You

Anna, a new patient of mine, recently came to me at 7 months postpartum for fatigue — fatigue that her doctor quickly dismissed. “You’re a mom, Anna, what did you expect? Of course you’re tired,” her doctor reportedly told her.

His diagnosis? Anna you’re a mom.

But he was also happy to write her a prescription for her mood…although he contended being a mom was her real problem.

Anna wasn’t just fatigued — she was sleeping 12-13 hours a day and was still unable to get up in the morning with her baby.

And when she was awake, her anxiety would suck any ounce of energy right out of her and she’d find herself often crying on the floor in a panic.

To say she was struggling is an understatement.

She cried during her office visit… “I’m not the mother I thought I would be and I hate what motherhood has done to me.”

But it wasn’t motherhood that was the issue.

It was autoimmune thyroid disease. Something her doctor had tested, but quickly dismissed as a “transient condition.”

Even after Anna had shared with him the results of her quiz that showed she was at high risk for thyroid disease…he told her that her symptoms were due to motherhood, not her thyroid.

What labs to run? What foods to eat?  And what next with thyroid disease?Download You Hypothyroid Guide E-Book  and learn more about how optimizing thyroid health

Thyroid Disease Robs You of Your Life!

One in twelve mothers will develop thyroid disease after giving birth. But most doctors view this as a “minor inconvenience” and “transient” so it shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Except that conventional medicine fails to recognize the far reaching implications of not taking a mother's complaints of fatigue, anxiety, depression, hair loss, and other troubling symptoms seriously. Sure, they might offer up an antidepressant, but that does nothing for the root cause…let alone the debilitating fatigue.

But let’s say for a minute that sure, postpartum thyroid disease is transient, meaning it will self resolve in 12 months (which in my clinical experience, it rarely does).

Then let me say this — the time a mother loses to this disease can never be given back to her.

When a mother misses out on the joy and beauty of motherhood because she was so sick and so tired, it is not only she who loses. Her baby, her family, the people she loves…they are all affected.

So maybe it is a transient 6-12 months of feeling your absolute worse. May not seem like a big deal, until you factor in that this woman is caring for a small human that is rapidly changing and developing in that time.

Our mothers are the caretakers of the future of humanity. Without them, our species would cease to exist.

Let that sink in…

Because while medicine is dealing ladies the short end of the stick left and right, they are failing to recognize the incredible value of mothers.

And they often forget that being a mother is NOT a diagnosis!

You can not dismiss a woman's complaints simply because she gave birth. This drives me nuts! Sure moms are stressed and tired, but isn't that even more reason to find the root cause and help them out?

We Need to Stick Together

So listen, you may have ZERO interest in ever having a baby and may be thinking, “this will never apply to me.” That’s totally your prerogative and I respect it…but you WILL know someone who does become pregnant. You will have a new mom in your life at some point…and this information you share may literally save their life.

Ladies, it is up to us to educate and advocate for our health. I wish I could be a doctor to every single one of you…but I'm just one person. Which is why it is so important that we support each other in health and take advantage of educational resources so that we can become our own health detectives.

So what next?

The first thing I want to encourage is ANYONE who even suspect they have a thyroid condition take this very informative quiz to understand their risk right away.

Share this with anyone that you’ve seen struggling with their mood, their energy, their stamina, their weight…you get the picture.

Work with a Doctor Who Gets It.

Look, you aren't about to settle for a hair dresser who doesn't listen to your needs and doesn't try to help you achieve the style you want. Why would you settle for a doctor who doesn't listen and doesn't try to help you achieve YOUR best health?

It's a bit crazy to settle in medicine when you think about it.

If you think you are struggling with a thyroid condition then you need a partner to help you navigate your individual needs and help you heal!

As for Anna…

Anna had found me through the documentary The Thyroid Secret, that had a private screening a couple months back. You may be watching the World Premiere that is taking place right now.

She had watched episode 7, where I spoke on the relationship of thyroid disease to our hormones, our fertility, pregnancy outcomes and how it literally destroys women’s lives in the postpartum period.

She said, “Everything you described sounded just like me and hearing how you had personally struggled and healed yourself gave me tremendous hope.”

Anna started thyroid medication, along with adrenal and thyroid supporting supplements. (And all the diet/lifestyle changes she needed). Within 2 weeks she reported a marked improvement in symptoms.

The debilitating fatigue she had struggled with for months and been given no hope of ever resolving was lifted in a matter of weeks.

Almost 5 weeks later, Anna was an entirely different person.

And the coolest part… I taught Anna how to heal herself and she did! She took charge of her health and owned it like a rock star!

It’s too early to know if she’ll need thyroid medication for life, but honestly, she could care less. She has her life back and she is solely focused on caring for her and her family’s health.

You have the power to heal yourself too! And you deserve to have the absolute best health!

Dr. Jolene Brighten

P.S. If you’d like to watch the episode Anna viewed, you can do so here:

P.P.S. Anna isn’t her real name. I take privacy very seriously in my office so I never share people’s real names…because what is said in Dr. Brighten’s office stays in Dr. Brighten’s office.

Download You Hypothyroid Guide E-Book  and learn more about how optimizing thyroid health

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a women’s hormone expert and prominent leader in women’s medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News. Read more about me here.