How to Optimize Your Thyroid For Pregnancy and Beyond

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Many of us don’t think about our thyroids unless something is not quite right. You probably don’t think about trying to optimize your thyroid during pregnancy until you need to. Because of that, most of what the thyroid gets credit for is its impact on our energy levels and how easily our bodies gain or lose weight. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis a few years ago. It wasn’t until I had an unanticipated few months delay in our IUI journey that I considered doing anything more than seeing my endocrinologist twice a year and taking my medicine.

It was only after buying (and reading) a heap of books about supercharging my fertility that I realized how crucial a functioning thyroid was to conceiving and carrying a healthy child. My initial response to all of this new information was fear that my thyroid disease would make pregnancy nearly impossible. As I continued to research and educate myself, I became more empowered and hopeful. With this new-found enthusiasm for optimizing my thyroid function, I found myself very excited to share this vital information with nearly anyone who might listen (or read)!

Why Your Thyroid is Important for Pregnancy

Whether you’re diagnosed with a thyroid disease or not, maintaining a healthy thyroid is crucial to every part of pregnancy. It is essential to ovulation and childbirth, largely due to its interaction with estrogen, and the impact it can have on our cycles. The consequences of a poorly functioning thyroid can range from infertility and miscarriage to fetal developmental issues. Since optimal thyroid function is important for much of the baby-making journey, it deserves its due attention.

While we have no shortage of key players in preparing for our healthiest pregnancies, there are some simple approaches to reconditioning your thyroid, taking it off the bench, and setting your team up for victory!

Know Your Numbers

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If you’re diagnosed with a thyroid disease, chances are you’re having your levels monitored by your doctor at least annually. However, as soon as you decide to take a trip down pregnancy lane, you’ll want to notify your doctor ASAP. What is considered a normal range for your thyroid function is different (and more restrictive) when you’re trying to conceive than what is considered a normal range when you’re not. Moreover, once you do get pregnant, your doctor will want to monitor your levels more frequently.

Carrying a human puts even more strain on your thyroid gland and may require adjustments in your medication. For those not diagnosed with a thyroid condition, having a blood panel performed prior to conceiving can be an invaluable tool. This could help indicate whether or not your thyroid is up to the challenge. While some doctors might order just a TSH test, having your Free T4 and Free T3 tested as well will provide the most comprehensive overview.

*While we’re talking about blood tests, one thing to keep in mind is that supplements containing biotin (I’m looking at you, prenatals) can throw-off the results of your thyroid tests. The good news is that biotin doesn’t actually impact your thyroid; it just makes the readings of your blood levels out of whack. This is not to say to stop taking your prenatal vitamins and supplements. You will want to discuss this with your doctor and determine a good approach. My endocrinologist advised me to stop taking supplements that contain biotin 10 days prior to my thyroid tests, but again, this is something to discuss with a medical professional.

Let Food Be Thy Medicine

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We all know that balanced nutrition plays a key role in fertility and a healthy pregnancy. It’s especially crucial to support your master metabolism gland, whether it’s compromised or not. In addition to the typical nutrients you’ll want to consume like Folic Acid, your Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D, and the array found within a good prenatal vitamin, here are some additional items of importance as they pertain to the thyroid:

  • Selenium is a mineral that provides well-rounded support to the thyroid. It isn’t found in many foods besides Brazil nuts. However, more is not better, so consult your doctor to find a healthy target for supplementing with selenium.
  • According to, “Your Healthy Pregnancy with Thyroid Disease,” research has shown that, “probiotics can help enhance fertility in a number of ways – and make assistive reproductive procedures more effective.” The benefits of probiotics range further than “getting regular,” as they help support the immune system, which can be a friend or foe to your thyroid.
  • Reduce or eliminate soy consumption. It can act like estrogen in the body and prevent absorption of thyroid hormones. This can be tough for a vegetarian. I limit my intake to no more than 2 servings of soy a week. Keep in mind that soy can sneak its way into many product, so check your labels!
  • Consider going gluten-free. Wheat gluten can cause inflammation in the body and negatively impact your immune system. This is an especially important protocol for people with autoimmune diseases, such as Graves’ or Hashimoto’s. As much as I love my bread and bagels, I can’t deny that once I cut gluten out of my diet, I felt so much better!

Supplements

There are other supplements and regimens that can assist in optimizing thyroid function and fertility. However, these are best discussed with your doctor due to the additional considerations they entail. For more information on these and other potential ways to support your thyroid throughout pregnancy, I highly recommend exploring Trentini and Shomon’s book, “Your Healthy Pregnancy with Thyroid Disease,” along with conducting your own research.

Nix the Toxins

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The toxins we encounter in our daily lives aren’t good for anyone, pregnant or not. The more we can reduce our exposure to these chemicals, the better. Here are just a few opportunities to diminish the amount of toxic substances in your life:

  • Believe it or not, the air in your home can be more toxic that the air in your neighborhood. Using HEPA air filters and air purifiers can help ensure that the air you breathe doesn’t contain toxic components.
  • Excessive fluoride consumption has been linked to thyroid problems. Have your drinking water tested for its fluoride and other heavy metal levels. Water filters are an affordable option to improve the safety and taste of the water your family drinks.
  • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls and phalates can wreak havoc on your thyroid and contribute to birth defects. They are most often found in flame retardant products, paints,  plastic containers, adhesives, and nonstick cookware.

Next Steps

These approaches are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to optimize your thyroid for pregnancy. I say that not to cause overwhelm but to empower you with the knowledge that there are plenty of ways to stack the pregnancy deck in your favor! As you can imagine, there are other more general approaches to preparing for pregnancy, such as incorporating daily exercise, getting adequate sleep, and managing your stress levels that are also important. Please remember that before making any decisions or changes regarding your health, consult a medical professional.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Always consult a medical provider or healthcare professional when seeking medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The ultimate decision concerning your care should be made between you and your doctor.

Britt has shared why it’s important to optimize your thyroid during pregnancy and the conceiving process. If you’re looking for more stories of the IUI process? Head to, The Thick of IUI

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