Breastfeeding and Hypothyroidism: Understanding the Connection

Did you know that thyroid hormones play a role in the production of breastmilk?

Breastfeeding is a critical and rewarding aspect of motherhood, providing numerous benefits for both the mother and the baby. However, for women with hypothyroidism, it can present some unique challenges and difficulties.

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones it is indicated when the TSH level is high and T3/T4 levels are low.

Hypothyroidism can cause a range of symptoms in women, including dry skin, sensitivity to cold, “baby blues” and/or depression, fatigue, hair loss, lack of energy, forgetfulness, constipation, increased menstrual frequency and flow, and mild enlargement of the thyroid.

What are some challenges women with hypothyroidism may face while breastfeeding?

Hypothroidism can have a significant impact on lactation and milk production. Thyroid hormones play an important role in milk production and secretion, and women with hypothyroidism may experience difficulties producing enough milk, leading to a low milk supply. In addition, thyroid hormones also influence breast growth, specifically of glandular tissue, which is essential for lactation and milk production. Hypothyroidism has also been associated with lower levels of the hormone oxytocin, which is crucial for milk let-down and the milk ejection reflex.


To manage their condition effectively  women with hypothyroidism should work closely with their healthcare provider.It is essential for women with thyroid disorders to manage their condition effectively before, during, and after pregnancy. This can help to ensure that thyroid hormone levels are well controlled during pregnancy and lactation, as thyroid hormones play a crucial role in milk production and secretion.


It is essential to ensure that the medication regimen for hypothyroidism is appropriate for both the mother’s thyroid condition and lactation. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can also help monitor the condition and make any necessary adjustments to the medication or treatment plan.


In some women, thyroid hormone levels can have a significant impact on milk supply during breastfeeding. Having thyroid hormone levels within the normal range  may not be enough for some women to make a full milk supply. This is because in some women, milk supply is sensitive to the level of thyroid hormone in their bloodstream.For these women, having thyroid hormone levels within the upper part of the normal range is necessary to make a full milk supply.

For women with hypothyroidism who are taking levothyroxine to manage their condition, it is generally safe to breastfeed. Levothyroxine is secreted in extremely low levels into breast milk, which means it is safe for the baby.

Women with hypothyroidism who are breastfeeding can  benefit from seeking the assistance of a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant can provide personalized support and advice to help overcome any difficulties related to breastfeeding, including those related to hypothyroidism. They can also provide education and guidance on how to optimize lactation, manage low milk supply, and ensure that both the mother and the baby are getting the best possible outcomes from breastfeeding.
 There are several strategies that can be used to improve milk supply and support breastfeeding:
These include working on improving milk removal through techniques such as breast massage, breast compressions during feedings, and the use of pitocin or oxytocin nasal sprays to help eject milk.
   Galactagogues, which are substances that can help increase milk supply, may also be useful as a supportive treatment if milk can be removed and thyroid levels are in balance.
    If a scan using a radioactive material must be done, it is best to delay the procedure until no longer breastfeeding. If this is not possible, request the use of a radioactive material with the shortest half-life to minimize the interruption of breastfeeding.

There are also several vitamins and foods that can help support thyroid function and milk supply. These include:

  • Vitamins A, B, and D: These vitamins are important for overall health and can also help support thyroid function. Vitamin A can be found in foods like liver, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Vitamin B is found in a variety of foods, including meat, fish, eggs, and leafy green vegetables. Vitamin D can be obtained through sunlight exposure and fortified foods like milk and cereal.
  • Selenium: Selenium is a mineral that is important for thyroid health and can be found in foods like brazil nuts, seafood, and poultry.
  • Zinc: Zinc is another mineral that is important for thyroid function and can be found in foods like oysters, beef, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Tyrosine: Tyrosine is an amino acid that is important for thyroid hormone production and can be found in foods like dairy products, meat, and eggs.

In addition to these vitamins and minerals, there are also several foods that can be beneficial for people with hypothyroidism. These include:

  • Shrimp and cod: These seafood options are rich in iodine, which is essential for thyroid function.
  • Dairy: Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are good sources of calcium, which can be important for people with hypothyroidism.
  • Egg yolks: Egg yolks are a good source of selenium and can also provide other important nutrients like vitamin D.
  • Lima beans: Lima beans are a good source of iron and can also provide other important nutrients like fiber and protein.
  • Seaweed: Seaweed is rich in iodine and can be a good addition to the diet for people with hypothyroidism.
  • Spinach and other leafy green vegetables: These vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals that are important for overall health, including thyroid function.”

Remember to always talk to your healthcare provider before making any major changes to your diet or taking supplements to ensure that they are safe and appropriate for you.

Breastfeeding can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience for mothers with hypothyroidism, but it may require a little extra care and attention. By working closely with a healthcare provider and seeking the support of a lactation consultant, women with hypothyroidism can overcome any difficulties and successfully breastfeed their babies.”


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