Breastfeeding and Hypothyroidism

Underactive Thyroid in The Nursing Mother

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What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is the medical term that is used to describe a condition where there is not enough thyroid hormone in your body. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland include:

  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling cold

Breastfeeding and Hypothyroidism

If you were being treated for an underactive thyroid before you became pregnant, see your doctor regularly and take your thyroid medications during your pregnancy.

Once your baby arrives, your doctor should continue to monitor your thyroid levels. Thyroid medication often needs to be adjusted after childbirth.

If you were not being treated for hypothyroidism before or during your pregnancy, you may develop symptoms after the birth of your child. Along with the symptoms listed above, you may also experience signs of depression. Hypothyroidism can be mistaken for postpartum depression, so talk to your doctor about having your thyroid levels checked before starting any treatments for depression.

It is important to treat hypothyroidism especially if you are breastfeeding. Without proper monitoring and treatment, you may not be able to establish a healthy supply of breast milk for your baby. An underactive thyroid can also contribute to a difficult let-down reflex. However, once treated, these issues should be resolved.

Tips For Breastfeeding With Hypothyroidism

  • See your doctor regularly and be sure to tell him that you are breastfeeding.


American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Drugs. The transfer of drugs and other chemicals into human milk. Pediatrics 2001;108:776-89.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Sixth Edition.  Mosby. Philadelphia. 2005.

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