Hypothyroidism

I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism and have experienced a diminished milk supply. I started out pumping four to five ounces and now I am lucky to get two. I am taking 100 mg. Synthroid. My endocrinologist told me the problems were unrelated and that I should stop breastfeeding and just use formula. Obviously I was not satisfied with that answer and am looking for suggestions. If I continue to nurse and pump my breasts will my milk supply return?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a condition in which the amount of thyroid hormones in the body are below normal. The body's metabolism is controlled by the thyroid gland. Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include lethargy, dry skin, depression, and intolerance to cold. Postpartum thyroid dysfunction occurs in around 5 to 10 percent of all women in the year following their baby's birth. As you suspected, hypothyroidism often results in a diminished milk supply.

Typically, once thyroid function normalizes, a mother's milk supply will begin to increase, especially if pharmacological treatment is begun shortly after the initiation of symptoms. You didn't mention how old your baby is or how shortly after your little one's birth it become apparent that your milk supply was inadequate. The longer in the postpartum period that you were in a hypothyroid condition, the more challenging it may be to fully rebuild your milk supply.

The amount of milk obtained during pumping varies greatly depending on type of pump used, the length of pumping session, the time of day milk is expressed, how soon the mother pumps after her baby has nursed, and other factors. Techniques to help increase your milk supply are the same recommended to any nursing mother. See my letter, Insufficient Milk Supply, for ideas to help build your milk supply.) My best wishes for good health!

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