Hyperthyroidism in Pregnancy

Hyperthyroidism in pregnancy: yes it is a mouthful, but more than that it is a huge burden to bear. This is what has been plaguing me of late… to those who’ve thought I’m listless, distant, grumpy, selfish or just plain lame; this is why. My selfishness stems from a basic need to actually feel like I’m surviving a day, or an hour, or a moment.

I have been doing my best to not inflict my woes on the world around me but it has been difficult. I thought that by writing a blog about it, people could get some perspective on why I can’t eat certain things, why I am always so frikkin tired, why I can’t commit to various ventures or outings and not assume that I’m just being difficult.

What is hyperthyroidism?

Simply put, it is an overactive thyroid. I’m no doctor, but basically your thyroid regulates your metabolism by secreting thyroxine and triiodothyronine. In the case of hyperthyroidism, it secretes too much  and it elevates the metabolism to such a point that hardly any nutrition can be gained from the food that is eaten. Bad news in any circumstances, but in pregnancy it can be particularly dangerous because the baby needs as much as it can get to grow healthily.

I remember in my less intelligent teenage years thinking how cool it would be to have an overactive thyroid. Then I would be able to eat anything and never gain weight; stupid is an understatement in this case and I have since reformed my thoughts and desires. Or perhaps I manifested these circumstances from those idiotic younger years? Who knows? The point is that I cannot eat whatever I like. If I choose to go onto thyroid-regulating drugs then I might be able to, but if this is something that I will be inflicted with for life then I refuse to take drugs to rectify it for the rest of my days.

My incredible husband and I have done extensive research into the matter and as it turns out, I can regulate it myself with healthy eating and yoga. The yoga is a no brainer; I love yoga and it will always be a part of my life, so that’s that part sorted. The eating part is slightly more difficult. In short:

  • No sugar
  • No dairy
  • No wheat or allergens
  • No overly processed foods
  • No curries, chilli’s pepperdews or anything spicy
  • No coffee
  • No alcohol!

What can I eat? I can eat anything vegan provided it doesn’t have sugar or wheat in it, I can eat as many vegetables and fruits as I want, anti-oxidants, anti-oxidants, anti-oxidants! I have to eat a lot of specialty foods that they only sell in Dis-Chem or health shops, even a harmless pasta is made from wheat. No toast, only rye bread… no cheese! My favourite. I found a vegan substitute thanks to my beautiful friend, Tammy, but it doesn’t quite match the Gouda that I love so much!

What happens if I don’t follow the rules?

Quite simply, my heart beats out of control, I become breathless, I lose every ounce of energy available to me, I can’t stand without needing to sit down, I can’t walk without becoming completely out of breath and feeling like I’m about to have a heart attack. I lose weight faster than I can think and in my current situation I need to be putting on weight. The heart palpitations are the worst because my heart is literally beating at double the speed it should and sometimes faster. This leads to the breathlessness, exhaustion etc. You see where I’m going with this.

I put it to the test last week and had 2 ferrero rochers, a slush puppie at the movies and a pasta with chilli in it. The next day I honestly thought I was going to go into cardiac arrest. I felt sick; I couldn’t do anything but bath and lie down. My poor family have to just put up with me and they do an amazing job of it.

I am an energetic, free-spirited person at heart; I love being outdoors, I love exercising, I love being a part of the world. But this has kept me in my bed, in the shadows and away from everything that I love. That is until I realised that I could beat it with the correct eating patterns. I’ve basically gone sattvic again like I did when I studied Ashtanga and it’s not so bad.

If you know me and are close to me, I need you to understand where I am coming from. If you want me to do something that is a seemingly normal occurrence and I say no; understand why and don’t assume it is for my own selfish reasons. My choices have to be about me at the moment, because if I don’t look after this beautiful life growing inside me then no one will. It might not be forever, but the implications of me not doing something about it will haunt me forever and that is not a chance I am willing to take.

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