Four Lab Tests Every Mom Needs After Baby Arrives

After baby arrives, everyone is rightfully concerned with testing and monitoring the health of this brand new bundle of life. From nearly their first breath, babies are pricked, tapped, and tested for everything under the sun.

Unfortunately, the standard postpartum testing for mom still leaves something to be desired. As a perinatal chiropractor and functional nutrition practitioner, I find that the following labs are essential in ensuring moms are being taken care of and replenished after bringing a new life into the world.

Postpartum Testing

Most moms are great at taking their prenatal vitamins (unless they make you gag). However, prenatals give you an “average” amount of each micronutrient that is recommended by National Institute of Health, and every day, your body may use more than what is provided in the prenatal.

The most current research is demonstrating that moms can benefit from supplementing with multiple micronutrients during pregnancy and postpartum (1).

After delivery, your body recruits every nutrient it needs for building a healthy baby.  Therefore, we need to know what mom is specifically lacking so that we can supplement her with any additional nutrients she needs.

The micronutrient panel we use is through Spectracell. They test vitamins and minerals inside your cells. This allows us to accurately determine what we need to additionally supplement with.

What is a full thyroid panel?

Most OBs will order a thyroid panel after baby arrives. But TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is typically the only marker tested at this point. TSH is not actually a thyroid hormone, but a pituitary hormone that signals your thyroid.

Proper thyroid function is key for preventing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (such as postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression), maintaining proper energy levels, and maintaining metabolic rates. Between 5-10% of women will experience postpartum thyroiditis. This number could be higher and many women are left undiagnosed and therefore untreated.

It is important to have a complete thyroid panel performed that includes:

  • TSH: A pituitary hormone that responds to high or low amounts of thyroid hormone.
  • Free T3: This measures the active form of usable thyroid hormone before it is converted to T4 (the most usable form of thyroid hormone).
  • Reverse T3: Measures how much of the free active T3 is able to bind at thyroid receptors. In states of stress (like postpartum) this is produced and binds to thyroid receptors but turns them off instead of activating them.
  • Free T4: This measures the active form of usable thyroid hormone after T3 has been converted into T4.
  • Thyroglobulin antibodies and thyroid peroxidase antibodies: These antibodies can rise after pregnancy and remain elevated for years before TSH changes. These indicate that the thyroid gland is seen as a foreign invader by the immune system and the thyroid gland is under attack.

Prolactin

This is an important hormone made by the pituitary gland and is known for its production of breastmilk. We recommend monitoring prolactin in breastfeeding moms in order to maximize milk production for as long as breastfeeding is desired by mom and baby.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is arguably one of your body’s most important nutrients, playing a key role in reducing inflammation and enhancing the immune system. The latest research is showing that Vitamin D also plays a large role in preventing postpartum depression (2). We can get Vitamin D via sun exposure, but most people are not in the sun with 90% of skin exposed for 15 minutes daily, so supplementation may be necessary to maintain an optimal Vitamin D level between 70-90  nanograms/milliliter.

These tests help a postpartum mom assess her level of health not only for herself, but also to ensure she has proper nutrition to maintain the health of her new baby. Building a baby is magical, but it also uses many nutrients and hormones in the process. 

Unfortunately, not all practitioners check these markers during a mom’s first postpartum visit. However, now that you know this information, you can be your own health advocate. You can ask for the above testing or find a functional medicine or integrative medicine practitioner near you who uses these tests to maximize your postpartum period for you and your little one.

 

Dr. Whitley Jagnanan, D.C., B.S.

BIRTHFIT Houston Heights @birthfithoustonheights

 

References

  1. http://www.who.int/elena/titles/micronutrients_pregnancy/en/
  2. https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/new-research-reports-vitamin-d-status-immediately-after-birth-may-relate-to-postpartum-depression/
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