Most women are pressured to lose the baby weight as soon as possible after giving birth. Sometimes, they fall under the pressure imposed by the media. Other times it’s their expectations pressuring them. While ideally, all women would embrace their postnatal body, the truth is that frequently the opposite happens. But, what about when giving birth causes the absolute opposite effect – extreme weight loss.
Postpartum Weight Loss
I’m not a mother, but I do have a few stories from my friends that went through this issue. After giving birth to a perfectly healthy baby girl, one of my friends found herself uncontrollably losing weight. There was no way to stop it, no matter how much she ate. She was scared as if she knew something wasn’t right.
She blamed it on breastfeeding. But when she stopped, the weight kept coming off. Something else was happening.
Enter Postpartum Thyroiditis
Around 16.7% of women struggle with postpartum thyroiditis (PPT) after childbirth. Of them, about 25 percent will develop permanent hypothyroidism in the following ten years. The condition occurs when your normal-functioning thyroid gland becomes inflamed, which tends to happen after childbirth.
Luckily, PPT lasts between a few weeks to a couple of months. In most cases, thyroid functions go back to normal within 12 to 18 months. Symptoms include anxiety, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, and depression.
The Breastfeeding Factor
Another factor that can affect weight loss is breastfeeding. Women who chose to breastfeed lose weight quicker than those who don’t. It takes 500 extra calories a day to make breast milk. If you overdo it, excessive weight loss can happen. Keep in mind that you need to ramp up your calorie intake, especially if you’ve chosen to include exercise in your postpartum routine.
Other Causes of Extreme Weight Loss
Beyond the hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid can lead to excess weight loss. If you’re feeling shakiness, difficulty sleeping, eye problems, or an overabundant supply of breast milk, contact your doctor, these are all signs of something major happening with your health.
When to Seek Help
Don’t listen to friends, other mothers, or old wives’ tales. If you’re noticing a rapid weight loss after childbirth, seek medical attention. Your doctor will look at your weight before you became pregnant, your weight gain during pregnancy, and your current health state to determine if your weight loss is healthy or if something else is happening.
More than anything, stay calm. There are various treatment options available, including options for breastfeeding mothers. No one knows your body better than you. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up, and contact your doctor.