This book has been sat in my Amazon wishlist since I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and Hashimoto’s three years ago now, but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to give it a read.
Not necessarily in my list to read because I was wanting to start a family, but rather because being a thyroid advocate means sucking up as much knowledge on the topic as possible in order to help others. And this includes pregnant thyroid patients.
This book is often referred to as a ‘bible’ for hypothyroid women wanting to start a family healthily and safely whilst also looking after their own health.
I’ll reference back to this book and what I’ve learnt from it throughout my blog posts.
Your Healthy Pregnancy with Thyroid Disease is written by two thyroid advocates, Mary Shomon and Dana Trentini. For Mary, this wasn’t her first book (she’s had quite a few out already), however it was Dana’s first.
Following the loss of her own baby in 2009, Dana set out on a mission to prevent other women and unborn children experiencing the same horror that she did, due to her inadequately treated hypothyroidism. As well as her blog, she joined forces with Mary Shomon and created this guide to maximising you chances for conceiving, carrying a healthy baby and then recovering from pregnancy, as smoothly as possible.
Starting the book, I did find it quite daunting at how much information seem to be presented in it (300 pages and a small font), immediately thinking ‘gosh, this is going to be a lot to take in for women who are just so desperate to start a family’. But what I actually found around half way through, is how much of the information is repeated. Several times, too.
Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you live with thyroid brain fog or tend to read at the end of the day (like me, in bed with eyes drooping), it’s no harm for crucial information to be reiterated, but I did start skimming towards the end, when the same paragraphs were almost copied and pasted again, later on in the book.
I was also taking notes as I went along, about anything particularly crucial i.e. my ‘take aways’ from the book. For example, these included ensuring your thyroid levels are optimal before conceiving, upping your thyroid medication dosage as soon as you find out you’re pregnant and testing regularly so that you know as soon as you’re pregnant. So perhaps this added to me feeling as if parts were a little repetitive.
I think on the whole though, it is a very informative book. It’s not just for women who are already diagnosed with hypothyroidism and/or Hashimoto’s, but those who are having trouble conceiving or carrying a baby to full term, and are needing answers. This book does present the possibility that for many women struggling with fertility, they could have a thyroid problem.
The book starts with a very personal introduction by Dana, written in a unique style, mixing her experience of a miscarriage with what she wish she’d have known earlier. It gets straight to the point about the guilt she has experienced over losing her child due to hypothyroidism, how medical professionals let her down and how they’re putting so many other women and unborn children at risk, too.
The book is split in to a few parts, with parts 1 and 2 looking at what thyroid disease is and how it’s treated, including where many patients are left unwell and inadequately treated, and it really covers a lot of basic information in an easy to understand manner. It’s not overly sciencey.
Part 3 is where I felt that I started to learn new information, like what women and their male partners should be doing for a healthy pregnancy with thyroid disease. Covering how sex hormones, cycles, ovulation and fertile days work and how sex hormone issues and irregular cycles (among other things) can be getting in the way of you falling pregnant, it dives straight in. It is at this part of the book where I begun highlighting bits of text on the actual pages, so that I could find certain useful parts later on. It also covers the role of the thyroid gland in pregnancy, including supporting the fetus and how demands for thyroid hormone change throughout pregnancy. This is why so many women with thyroid disease need close monitoring and medication dosage adjustments.
One thing that I found particularly interesting and something I hadn’t considered before, was that they recommend a post-conception plan.
A post-conception plan is where you plan for your pregnancy around six months before trying to fall pregnant, getting all your ducks in a row and your health to optimal heights, ensuring you are in the best health to begin your pregnancy.
They discuss supplements and vitamins that can help to support your body, as well as other lifestyle changes such as giving up smoking (an obvious one), cutting alcohol, implementing a better sleep routine, a better diet and stress management. I really can’t do justice just how much ground is covered in this book. There’s also sex hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue and low vitamin levels that they suggest looking in to and correcting before trying to conceive.
For those not familiar with thyroid medication options, these are also covered along with why some may work better for some patients than others.
Whether it’s hypo or hyperthyroidism that you have, there is a dedicated chapter for each, addressing symptoms, test levels, treatment, monitoring and other FAQ’s for each condition. There’s also a chapter on thyroiditis, goitres, nodules and thyroid cancer during pregnancy which is incredibly useful, as they’re topics I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere, in relation to pregnancy.
As well as guiding you through post-conception, conception and pregnancy, there’s also information regarding how to look after yourself post-childbirth and the extra struggles that can present with thyroid patients. Post-childbirth is an extra challenging time for all, but can be more so to those of us with thyroid conditions. As well as physical things to consider, mental health is also discussed which I’m sure will help many new mothers feel reassured that they are not alone with their mental health struggled post-delivery.
In Part 3, they essentially sum up everything that you’ve read up until this point, in the first 150 pages, in a quicker to read and bullet point fashion. You can use it to tick your way through becoming prepared to have a healthy thyroid pregnancy.
Because I’d been noting all of these ‘action points’ down as I read the book, I actually found that I’d written all of them down already! So really, they’d done what my super-organised self had begun to do for me. It’s a good recap and makes the whole process a lot less daunting.
Towards the end of the book, a chapter on reasons why you may still be struggling to conceive or have a healthy pregnancy are reiterated, along with fertility treatment options, should you have optimised your endocrine health and still have no success.
Throughout the book, although both Mary and Dana are not medical professionals themselves, they do refer to research and studies for their information as well as feature regular quotes and information from various doctors and medical professionals. Case studies are also included, from other thyroid patients’ experiences as well as Dana and Mary themselves. You’ll feel very informed after reading this book.
You can find the book on Amazon here: Your Healthy Pregnancy with Thyroid Disease
Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018, and is a qualified Diet and Nutritional Advisor, also currently studying for relevant qualifications and certificates in Life Coaching, Motivational Speaking, Reflexology and more. She has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community.