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Chasing the Butterfly: Understanding How the Thyroid Gland Impacts Breastfeeding

by Alexandra Walker, BSN, MA, RN, IBCLC, RLC
  • Duration: 60 Mins
  • Credits: 1 CERP, 1 L-CERP
  • Handout: No
Abstract:

Often overlooked and as elusive as the butterfly it resembles, the thyroid gland may lurk behind a number of breastfeeding difficulties, including low-supply, over-supply, and overt lactation failure. Recent research has revealed that thyroid disorders during pregnancy and postpartum are more common than previously thought. A substantial amount of our current professional discourse centers around tongue-tie, which occurs in anywhere from 4.2%-10.7% of babies, while thyroid disorders in lactating women may in fact be more prevalent than tongue tie, affecting anywhere from 6.7%-13.3% of women in the postpartum period. Even more alarming is that as many 50-80% of these cases may be missed by a woman’s healthcare provider. During this presentation, you will gain a basic understanding of how the thyroid gland functions and the various ways in which a dysfunctional thyroid can adversely affect lactation. You will also learn which signs and symptoms warrant a referral to a primary health care provider. We will review the latest evidence-based thyroid hormone reference values appropriate for a woman during pregnancy and postpartum so that, if your patient does undergo testing, you will feel confident discussing those results with her. Finally, we will discuss some herbal and dietary recommendations for improving thyroid function.

Learning Objectives:

Objective 1: Describe normal thyroid function and how/why this is altered during stages of pregnancy and postpartum
Objective 2: Recognize the signs and symptoms of thyroid disorders in a lactating mother
Objective 3: Recognize the difference between normal and abnormal thyroid lab values during pregnancy and postpartum, as well as understanding their significance
Objective 4: Name at least three ways a mother could support a euthyroid state through dietary and/or herbal methods

Presentations: 28  |  Hours / CE Credits: 25.5  |  Viewing Time: 8 Weeks