Oct 252010
 

I have been repeatedly asked (begged?) by visitors to my website to address pregnancy and adrenal fatigue. Sadly, not a single book on my shelf (and there are many!) says anything about this urgent topic. In fact, surfing the vast Internet yields very few results either.

I can understand why. Who wants to study a pregnant mother? Can researchers possibly endanger the life of a growing child by giving one type of help to control group A and another to control group B? Ethically, it’s very difficult to study pregnant women.

In the meantime, countless pregnant women are suffering with adrenal fatigue and even full-blown Addison’s disease. Furthermore, babies are born with weakened adrenal glands as a result of their mothers’ exhaustion.

I tremble to venture into this area. I have personally carried five babies before my diagnosis of Addison’s disease, and two more babies have been born since. Yes, I’ve learned a lot. No, I haven’t solved many of the most severe problems (such as premature birth).

I have corresponded with doctors from around the globe and personally questioned doctors from top research hospitals. They are shy about definite answers, too. The fact is, we just don’t know much about how to help pregnant women with adrenal fatigue.

For hours during the last two pregnancies, I scoured the Internet for help. I especially concentrated on medical journals, to see what research has been done in the area of adrenal fatigue. I’ve found research on animals, especially sheep, but none of it has personally been much help to me.

Therefore, because of the terrible famine of information in this area, I’m going to offer some suggestions from my own experiences.

Adrenal fatigue in pregnancy predisposes your children to adrenal fatigue.

To me, this is one of the top reasons why I want to be sure my fatigue is treated. As miserable as fatigue can be, I can manage just about anything for the sake of a sweet little baby. However, I certainly don’t want to pass my problems on to my own children!

From what I can tell, my body starts to draw upon the adrenal glands of my growing baby around 20 weeks into the pregnancy. Some women feel more energy at this point, but this energy comes at the expense of the baby. Rest MORE than you think you need to! Be diligent about your nutrition!

Supplements and medications in pregnancy are complicated things.

Many of the herbs commonly used to treat adrenal fatigue (such as licorice) are questionable at best during pregnancy. In addition, common supplements such as IsoCort, or medications such as Cortef and Florinef, have a totally different effect during pregnancy. Some doctors recommend staying at pre-pregnancy dosages for the entire pregnancy, but I’ve found that this results in unbearable fatigue. Some studies show that the adrenal glands normally produce 2-3 times more cortisol during pregnancy, yet only half the normal amount of aldosterone. Oh, how complicated it can all be! My advice? Listen to your body, and find a doctor who will work carefully with you, using symptoms as a guide. (This type of doctor can be very difficult to find, by the way.)

Monitoring your health in pregnancy can look different.

You’ll often hear me telling you to monitor your health by tracking your basal body temperature, your blood pressure, your blood glucose, and your hormone levels. Alas, during pregnancy, “normal” is not normal. Doctors are starting to discover that “high” blood pressure and “high” blood glucose can actually be normal during pregnancy. Sadly, no one knows exactly what “normal” is. Much more research is needed in this area.

Diet during pregnancy is different.

Your dietary needs during pregnancy are different, with greater needs for protein (80-100 grams per day is recommended), greater needs for sodium, and a propensity to low blood sugar. My advice is to always have some good-quality carbohydrates with your protein, to eat plenty of good fats, to salt your food to taste, to drink lots of water (divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces per day), and to avoid simple sugar as much as possible. Keep a diet diary so that you’ll know how foods affect you specifically. Finally, eat at regular times each day, including snacks between meals and before bed.

You need plenty of rest.

Listen to me carefully! When you’re pregnant, you’re working very hard to grow a little baby. You require more rest than normal! It’s a fact. Get to bed before 10 p.m. Don’t get up until you wake up naturally, probably between 7 and 9 a.m. Take an afternoon nap. Don’t overdo on physical activity, such as walking, exercise, shopping, and outings, especially on hot summer days. Get help from others!

Breastfeeding takes even more energy than pregnancy.

Did you know that? Is it any wonder that so many mothers of many children (four or more), women who are trying to do what is naturally best for their children, are fatigued? Our pregnancies are too closely spaced together, we’re breastfeeding for longer periods of time, we’re embracing attachment parenting with its accompanying lack of continuous hours of sleep for mother or baby, and we’re often tandem nursing. In addition, we’re doing all of these superhuman feats on bodies that are already exhausted from generations of nutritional and toxic damage.

Are there answers to these pregnancy problems? Yes, but…

Truly, we need years of good nutrition and good sleep to heal our bodies of adrenal fatigue, but for mothers in their childbearing prime, we don’t always have time on our side. Don’t try to be a superwoman!

  1. Recognize that you’ll need more rest than most. Carefully follow my suggestions for a good night’s sleep.
  2. Recognize that you’ll need better nutrition than most. Carefully follow these suggestions from the Weston A. Price Foundation.
  3. Recognize that you’ll need to handle adrenal fatigue more diligently than most. Carefully read my suggestions for adrenal fatigue, keeping a journal of your actual daily progress.
  4. Recognize that breastfeeding may be difficult. Carefully pray about the options presented by the Weston A. Price Foundation.
  5. Recognize that your body needs to rest between pregnancies. If you’re not pregnant right now, use this time wisely to monitor your health and improve your nutrition.

In conclusion, my husband has repeatedly stated that until we women with adrenal fatigue start writing about what helps us and what doesn’t during pregnancy, other women won’t be helped. If you have your own blog or website, please share your experiences with others, to spare them some of the pain and trouble you’re enduring! (If you don’t have a blog, feel free to comment here. Also feel free to post links to your blogs.)

UPDATE (8/20/11):

I am listing some very technical links to sites that reference Addison’s Disease, cortisol, pregnancy, etc. Maybe these will give you a place to start in your research:

Are you struggling with fatigue? I invite you to download our free audio, “Can Fatigue Be Fixed?”, or check out our e-course, “Too Tired: A Woman’s Practical Guide”. Thanks for visiting!

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  93 Responses to “Pregnancy and Adrenal Fatigue”

  1. Thank you for useful info. :-)

  2. I am coming to tears reading this, just to know that someone else has gone through what I have, no doctors have yet to help me, I don’t think that they understand Adrenal Fatigue in the least and I myself don’t either. At around 20 weeks of pregnancy I started feeling extra fatigued and that something wasn’t right….I ended up in the hospital and went into labor at 28 weeks wtih my daughter. Since then my health has only deteriorated further, I have lost friends because I have no energy and extreme anxiety. Even my own husband is wondering whats wrong with me….Now latley I have started taking adrenal support supplements on my own but i’m afraid I could be doing more damage…I’m anxiously awaiting an appointment I have in Februrary with an endocrinologist…Is this the right way to go?….I hope someone can help me I want to have more children soon, I’m 27 and this was my first but i’m scared to death to carry another child….

    • Amber, I suffer from adrenal fatigue and wasnt able to find this out until I went to see a Naturopath. I went on isocort and the very first day the fog disappeared, I couldnt believe it. I continued on a small dose of this until I started feeling better and then was able to start cutting it out….throughout time I have had to go on and off of the isocort. Your anxiety is probably from the adrenal fatigue. I was having my anxiety in the evenings so my Dr. put me on 175 mg of progesterone and it would calm me down and I was able to sleep. I would not be worrying about having another baby until you are better. It sounds like you have a severe case like I did but I am now at a place where i can function normal and I am preganant again. I hope you get some answers.

  3. I’m with Amber, except I felt better during pregnancy (3 children) and really sick for months afterward. All 3 attempts to breast feed eventually failed, due to complicated symptoms that got worse the longer I tried to BF. Each experience was worse than the last. I would have an increased tendency toward blood sugar issues and panic attacks that my previous doctors saw as just an emotional/spiritual issue and nothing more. I was a major frustration to them, and they to me, to say the least.

    Now, my digestion is a mess, I have constant, dull pain under my ribcage on both sides, frequent infections, unexplained “anxiety,” chills, pain, weakness, fatigue, and all kinds of other frightening symptoms. You encourage us to eat well, but I can’t even seem to digest the good foods anymore. I also seem to be intolerant to a lot of foods now as well.

    Could you tell me what it was like for you? You have Addison’s? Were you more healthy during pregnancy and sick afterward or visa versa? Did you experience any of the things I mentioned above?

    Thankfully, I think I’ve finally found one of those rare doctors you mentioned. My next appointment is next week, but I’m really struggling just to get through each day and wish I could see her right away.

  4. A lot of times I’ll write back to you all privately, but I wanted to respond publicly this time. I’ve had 7 children, and with my first 5, I felt generally better when pregnant. With my last 2, I felt worse. The difference, I believe, is that I am now taking hydrocortisone and manufacture no adrenal hormones on my own. It’s very, very difficult to replicate what the body does naturally, and I think that makes the difference. The downside of the first 5 babies is that I probably stole a lot of my hormones from them, then after they were born, I was back to having to make everything myself again. Not good for them or me! I passed out many times in those post-partum months, after all my babies. All the other symptoms you describe — yup, me, too!

    I urge you to really read good information on adrenal fatigue and to learn everything you can, for yourself. Yes, consult with good doctors, but I can’t tell you enough how URGENT it is for you to educate yourself. As in, learn MORE than any doctor! Get on reputable medical sites, not “for the public,” watered-down websites. Learn the medical terminology and understand HOW your body should work and why it isn’t working well now.

    As for digesting food, this is because your body needs adrenal hormones for digestion. This tells you that you are really depleted. Try always consuming digestive enzymes (in a pill) with everything you eat. That would help a lot.

    Up above, click on the tab called “learning center,” and read everything you can about adrenal fatigue, especially the more complicated articles further down the page. (Obviously, you won’t have the energy to do this all at once!)

    I would also urge you to consider taking my eCourse on fatigue, not to toot my own horn or make more money, but because I really believe it would help you.

    I hope this helps! You’re going to make it, I’m sure!!
    Hugs,
    ~Anne

  5. Hi,

    You are so right that there is practically no information to be found about the relationship between adrenal fatigue and pregnancy. Not only can babies be premature because of their mother’s adrenal fatigue, they can also be stillborn.

    In July of 2001, my baby was stillborn at 7 months gestation. His skin was darkened, although both his parents have pale skin. This is, I now know, one of the signs of adrenal failure. He was also extremely small (both head size and weight) for gestational age, due to my chronic low blood sugar. I regret now that I followed my midwife’s advice to quit drinking licorice root tea and using progesterone cream, both of which were helping me. It didn’t keep me from having supposedly high blood pressure anyway. I also regret that I worked 30 hours a week for a control-freak boss, and that I was married to a hot-tempered man who wasn’t committed to me and didn’t want a baby in the first place. By the time he got used to the idea, it was too late, and I had to tell him that I had lost the baby.

    So every time I visit my son’s grave (at least I was far enough along that I got to bury him), I tell him I am sorry, because I feel that I unwittingly killed him. I did indeed feel better during my pregnancy, especially the middle trimester, because I was “stealing” hormones from the baby. I had a very difficult time after the stillbirth.

    I think it is strange that mothers are told not to go off their medications during pregnancy, but if you are taking a non-prescription herb or supplement, you must “play it safe” and quit. I think if I had quit work and kept taking the licorice root and progesterone, I might have a nine-year-old son today. I have my spiritual peace about the whole thing now, but I still have regrets.

    I hope other mothers will be brave enough to “go with their gut” and do what feels best to them, including finding ways to reduce their stress level.

    Karen

    • Karen,
      Thank you so much for your transparency! You are right about these things, and yes, there are many stillborn babies in the medical studies I’ve looked at online. This seems incredibly irresponsible to me, in so many ways, even though I understand some of the politics involved.

      Thank you for writing this up, because others will come along and read it, and hopefully it will help someone! It must have been tough for you, but I’m praying it will spare someone else’s life.

      Hugs to you,
      ~Anne

  6. My story in a nutshell: Got pregnant with my second child, found out I had celiac’s, had extreme eczema issues during pregnancy from allergies to everything I touched/smelled/ate, delivered normally, breastfed (still am…he’s 11 months.) I now weigh a measely 95 lbs at 5.3 because of my dietary allergies, but they have somewhat been relieved by NAET. However, my son is allergic to everything. I mean everything. All foods I have introduced and many environmental surroundings as well (he’s allergic to his highchair…breaks out in hives all down his legs!) Have you ever heard of anything so absurd in an infant??

    I know something happened to us both in that pregnancy because we came out on the other side with extreme allergies that have left me running to the Lord for wisdom and mercy.

    My question is, if my adrenal gland is fatigued and I pulled from my son’s in utero, did I deplete his adrenal glands?

    • Hi love, I have no idea about this, my son was a 25 week microprem with Septo-Optic Dysplasia (among many other issues!!) which has led to ACTH testing and endocrinology follow up etc So although I know nothing of adrenal fatigue in little ones, something all our children have is eczema. With our eldest it was so severe that she would weep and bleed from her skin all over the floor, took a lot of steroid creams and still suffered with it. We learnt that atopic conditions in kids come from a gut imbalance. Makes sense then that when their eczema is flared up, they get sick easily also (as the gut houses the bulk of the immune system). So for our kids, gluten free, sugar free and preservative free has been fantastic. They get daily probiotics (you can take them while breastfeeding for your boy, or mix some into a syringe) and aloe vera flesh (from the plant, not just the gel) has been brilliant. I also use a little breastmilk on the skin when breakouts are bad. We use only cotton clothes and bedding and cut all chemicals from the house. Makes a BIG difference!! :-) We do not use moisturiser, but we use oils as moisturisers contain nasty chemicals and drying preservatives. Oils are great, almond, olive, coconut etc Also studies show mums taking probiotics in the last trimester (which we missed with our preemie!) and during breastfeeding can reduce an infants risk of eczema by a whole third!! Worth knowing for future pregnancies. May be why our youngest is not as severe as our other children. We’ve had no major breakouts this year, so all of the above has been super effective for us – and no steroid creams! :-)

  7. Oh Anne, I feel close to heartbreak right about now…….I’m almost 6 months pregnant with my 5th child and I’m experiencing unbearable fatigue and shakiness that I know is Adrenal Fatigue. You see, I’m also hypothyroid and have been most of my life, although I went undiagnosed until age 27. Of course, I was prescribed Synthroid which did nothing for me. I ended up getting Armour thyroid myself after I miscarried my 4th pregnancy:The whole 12 weeks of it I could barely get off the couch and my appetite had all but disappeared. I assumed all the lethargy and fatigue was just my thyroid. I began to pray for healing and wisdom. Just 6 weeks into treatment with armour, I was pregnant again. Although heavier than I had ever been before and tired, I got through and delivered a healthy baby girl! God also brought me books. The 1st was “Type 2 Hypothyroidism” By Dr. Mark Starr. Boy was it an eye-opener! I felt as though I was reading about myself and my whole family. Then, “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” by Dr. James Wilson. This book brought to light what I had been suffering for years at this point. When my second son was born in ’98 my whole world felt as if it was collapsing, from the inside out. I had been an aerobics instructor during the pregnancy with him as well as opening the local gym at 6 a.m. 3 days a week and working at the health food store 2 afternoons and Saturdays. I thought I could “conquer” the fatigue with a “healthy” lifestyle……I really thought I was just lazy and that I had better get with it like everyone else. So, shortly after his birth I realised I could no longer hear as well in my left ear. This was quite disturbing, but not as disturbing as the slam of fatigue that hit around this time as well. Then came the dizziness and passing out with the least amount of activity. We were young, poor, and my husband’s job had no insurance. My mother said it must just be low blood sugar. I was depressed and frightened: I could barely take care of my 2 little boys let alone myself. The boys were clean,well fed, and loved, but that’s all I could muster. Our little apartment, which I had previously kept neat as a pin, fell into disgusting dissarray and there was nothing I could do about it. Fast forward 2&1/2 years and I was still having intermittent bouts of dizziness and extreme fatigue. I was able to visit my family doctor and I poured my heart and soul out. He looked unmoved behind his designer glasses and matter of factly declared that I was suffering depression and anxiety. He sent me away with a prescription for an antidepressant. I did recover some, but excersize which had been so rejuvinating before was now pretty much unbearable. I have since spent 9 months taking Dr. Wilson’s formulas, but apparrantly they weren’t enough. I have recently seen a new doctor, but he basically refused to treat me for adrenal fatigue. I literally feel like I’m running out of time. My oldest son has terrible asthma, all my kids have allergies, and have all been coated in eczema. I’m sorry for bombarding you with my life’s story, I felt that you would understand. I do have one question in all this, do you take Isocort during pregancy? If so, is the 8 pellet limit enough or do you feel the need for more? Please let me know, I need to do something. Thankyou, for all your information and for sharing who you are and what you’ve been through. God bless you, love T.J.

  8. I am so glad you wrote this! I will have a different but similar experience when/if I get pregnant as I had to have both of my adrenal glands removed due to uncured Cushing’s Disease after two failed pituitary surgeries. I am trying to read everything I can about adrenal disease and pregnancy but there isn’t very much out there! Thanks for sharing your story :)

  9. Though I think it’s important to treat adrenal gland symptoms, we need to find the underlying cause of this condition. I was severely ill in 2007 after giving birthing to my son. It was nine months to be exact. I was always tired, and I would even sometimes fall asleep while breast feeding, forgetting that I was holding my son. I discovered at around 4 months that I had low breast milk supply and tried everything in the world to increase my production. There were days that I could hardly walk, talk or even coordinate getting myself out of the house for an appointment. I really thought life was over for me at that point because nothing appeared to be helping. As a last resort, after nine months of hell and 7+ doctors, I put myself on an elimination diet because I believed my condition was hormonal or dietary and not just simply postpartum depression as my doctors wanted to treat me for, and I discovered that my health improved almost 100% with the elimination of gluten. Actually, it was after 30 days of being gluten-free on the elimination diet that I decided to treat myself to a sandwich at Panera Bread and I found myself sick and severely depressed within minutes of eating my meal. All of my crazy symptoms had returned. This reaction happened twice within that week after eating gluten. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was indeed the gluten because I was still following the very strict diet at home. I have been gluten free, healthy and happy for almost 4 years, but I never really understood the connection between my symptoms which appeared hormonal and my intolerance to gluten until I found this post. Please read! It may be your answer.

    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=114973357222&topic=9639

    Westside Wellness, LLC
    The Gluten Effect
    How Gluten Sensitivity Can Disrupt Your Hormones and Your Life
    By Dr. Vikki Petersen

    When we talk about the gluten effect, we’re basically talking about how gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, can have far-reaching negative effects upon your health. If you’re suffering from obesity to fatigue, depression to headaches, arthritis to digestive problems, gluten sensitivity may very well be at the root of your symptoms. Gluten can also affect your hormonal health by stressing the adrenal glands, causing adrenal fatigue and a number of hormone-related health problems.
    The Adrenal Glands: Hormone Central

    The adrenal glands sit above your kidneys and release hormones into your bloodstream, and likewise respond to feedback from other hormones and chemicals in your body. Their main role is repair and anti-aging. When the adrenal glands become exhausted from chronic stress, they cannot keep up with all the demands made upon them and catabolism (think “cannibalism”) or a breakdown of systems occurs. This catabolism results in your body’s systems becoming incapable of repairing themselves; as a result, their function slowly begins to deteriorate. This leads to fatigue, depression, loss of libido and hormonal imbalance symptoms such as PMS and hot flashes, to name a few.

    Gluten Sensitivity

    Gluten sensitivity puts direct stress on your adrenal glands. This stress comes from the inflammatory response created in a gluten-sensitive person’s digestive tract. When gluten creates an inflammatory reaction, it is the balancing efforts of the hormonal pathways that “cool off” the stress and create an anti-inflammatory response. If this happened only occasionally, it wouldn’t upset the adrenals’ ability to function optimally. But in patients with gluten sensitivity (40 percent of the population, by current estimates) this inflammation occurs every time they eat any gluten, which can be several times per day.

    So, the adrenals are getting stressed by all the inflammation gluten is creating in the intestines. When this stress becomes chronic due to an individual continuing to consume gluten in their diet, many symptoms are created due to a phenomenon called “adrenal exhaustion.”

    Adrenal Exhaustion Caused by Gluten

    Common Symptoms of Adrenal Exhaustion
    Caused by Gluten Sensitivity
    Interruptions in sleep
    Difficulty waking in morning
    Fatigue
    Joint and muscle aches
    Weight gain resistant to diet or exercise
    Frequent infections
    Lightheadedness/fainting
    Depression/mood swings
    Low blood sugar
    Poor concentration/memory
    PMS/ menstrual abnormalities
    Allergies (environmental)
    Asthma
    Under normal conditions, the adrenals make a hormone called pregnenolone (think of it as the “mother hormone”). Pregnenolone is the basic building block of many of the hormones the adrenal glands make, including the sex hormones. These hormones – DHEA, estrogen, testosterone and progesterone – need to be maintained in proper balance to prevent such conditions as PMS, anxiety and infertility.

    When chronically stressed, something has to give; the adrenal glands cannot keep up with all their duties. In a very interesting process known as “pregnenolone steal,” the adrenal glands literally “steal” pregnenolone to make the basic hormone the adrenal gland utilizes for energy production, leaving sex hormone production lacking. This “borrowing from Peter to pay Paul” phenomenon results in a host of symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance.

    PMS and menopausal symptoms are associated with gluten sensitivity and adrenal exhaustion in this manner. Recall that the adrenal gland produces reproductive hormones, and that pregnenolone serves as the building block for other hormones. Under normal conditions, ample pregnenolone exists for conversion to those hormones, but when stressed, pregnenolone is diverted instead.

    Health Consequences

    What does this mean? When your body has been under chronic stress, it is forced to make a decision: It can get you through the day, putting one foot in front of the other, or it can make adequate amounts of sex hormones.

    It can’t do both because it’s too stressed. When put in this situation, your body decides the most pro-survival thing to do is to get you through the day, to the detriment of making sex hormones. This insufficient production of hormones does not occur evenly across the board, however; progesterone tends to fall more dramatically than does estrogen, resulting in a net estrogen dominance.

    Symptoms of estrogen dominance include cramping, heavy bleeding, menstrual irregularity, endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, fibrocystic breasts, migraines and PMS. Major symptoms of progesterone deficiency beyond the above is infertility and miscarriage, along with depression and anxiety.

    Joint aches and pains can also be created from adrenal exhaustion. In a normal, healthy body, wear and tear on the joints is offset by natural cortisol (a hormone) production from the adrenal glands as they respond to minor joint inflammation in day-to-day living. But when the adrenals are overwhelmed, even minor inflammation persists and eventually can cause significant swelling and/or pain in the joint areas. The ligaments that keep your joints in good alignment and ready to react to movement become lax. Over time, joint pains, muscle spasms and limitations of movement can occur that can elude the best intentions of chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists.

    What You Can Do

    A patient suffering from structural pain seeks out the help of a practitioner who specializes in addressing such areas of the body. In the presence of adrenal exhaustion, such treatment will usually have only temporary results, to the frustration of the patient and practitioner alike. If the underlying root cause is truly adrenal exhaustion, this must be addressed to completely resolve the symptoms of pain and spasm.

    Treatment for adrenal stress revolves around lifestyle management (timing of meals, amount of sleep and exercise), identifying any food sensitivities, and using nutritional support to strengthen adrenal function. Supplements such as vitamins B5, B6 and C, whole-root licorice extract and certain forms of ginseng can all be supportive.

    Gluten sensitivity is treated by following a strictly gluten-free diet. Complete avoidance of all products containing wheat, rye and barley is the only treatment. (Oats should also be avoided due to cross-contamination, but gluten-free oats are available.) Identifying and treating other issues such as adrenal fatigue and secondary infections are also important in order to regain full health.

    The presence of gluten sensitivity and its resultant stress upon the adrenal glands is common, but rarely diagnosed. As a result, millions of women suffer with symptoms that are often correctable with simple diet, nutrition and lifestyle changes. And these are completely natural ways to improve your health; treating gluten sensitivity and adrenal exhaustion does not require drugs or surgery.

    Ask your doctor about gluten sensitivity, particularly if you are experiencing symptoms that could be related to adrenal fatigue. There are lab tests available that test for both. It will give you and your doctor a good sense of how your adrenals are functioning and whether your symptoms are attributable to adrenal stress potentially caused by gluten.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Gluten, Gluten Everywhere…

    If you’re sensitive or intolerant to gluten, avoiding it can be a real challenge. Just consider how many products contain wheat, rye or barley; most cereals, breads and pastas, just for starters. (The next time you’re in the grocery store, check out the labels of a few of your favorite foods and see which ones are likely to contain gluten.) Gluten is also found in a number of processed foods, including salad dressings, egg substitutes, flavored potato chips, imitation crab and even beer.

    If you think you can get away with eating foods that contain gluten, bear in mind that while sensitivity can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, gluten intolerance or celiac disease is even more problematic, because gluten actually triggers the body’s immune system, which affects nutrient absorption and can lead to malnutrition, anemia, osteoporosis and other major health problems.

  10. Hi Anne,
    this is the only info I found on the internet on pregnancy and adrenal fatigue, so thank you for posting it!
    I am pregnant, this is our 4th baby. After having my daughter 4 years ago, my body completely crashed. I am hypothyroid, have weak adrenals, and severe hormonal imbalance. I am amazed I am pregnant!! But God is good, and gracious. I do feel so much better after finding a doctor that would listen and treat the symptoms along with the labs. I was wondering what you think about excercise and pregnancy? With adrenal fatigue and thyroid issues as well. I was finally getting to a place where I could excercise a little, now I am afraid to do much. I don’t want to hurt this baby, or take anything from the baby’s adrenals. I know I did that with my daughter. She was a very colicky and difficult baby. I know it was because I depleted her adrenals. I have been eating whole foods, good fats and no sugar. I do feel pretty good. Tired, but I have always been fatigued. What do you think about exercising while I am pregnant? Maybe walking on my treadmill for 20 min?

    • My first instinct would be to say, “Being pregnant is exercise enough!” This is often true for those of us with adrenal fatigue. The general principle is to be sure you’re depositing enough “energy” into your body, more than what is being deducted each day. Are you getting lots of protein? See http://www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com/ Are you getting lots of sleep (LOTS!)? Then, do you feel BETTER after exercise, or does it make you feel more tired? Walking (or swimming) is an excellent exercise for pregnant women, but just be very, very careful not to walk too long or to get dehydrated. Check out Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way for some exercises that will help your body prepare for childbirth without wearing you out. http://astore.amazon.com/anneshomeyplace/detail/0452276594

      I hope this helps! Please write again if you have more questions!

  11. I was wondering if you could elaborate further on the Adrenal Fatigue and breastfeeding.
    From you post and the comments above it seems like it might be common to have problems with low milk supply? I am just learning about AF and I have so many of the symptoms. However I have been sucessfully breastfeeding for 13 years- with no signs of milk supply or other common BF problems.
    (well i have had a short break inbetween babies, but have been BF or Preg or both for that long with no complete break from either.)
    Any thoughts?
    thanks!

    • Cat, I just realized that I had never written you back, and I’m so sorry!

      I didn’t have a problem with milk supply. I had plenty of milk. My problem was that I would physically “crash” when my milk would let down. The worst time was when my 6th child was 4 weeks old. I became comatose several minutes after beginning to breastfeed her. It was pretty scary.

      My hypothesis is that the hormones that let milk down require cortisol. The cortisol I was taking (35 mg/day of Cortef) weren’t enough to keep me going, to say the least! I would frequently faint, get nauseous, lose my ability to think clearly or speak, have diarrhea, etc.

      It’s just a theory based on my own experiences with six children. (I did not breastfeed my seventh child at all, but I nursed all the others, at least as long as I could. Longest was almost 2 years, shortest was 4 weeks with my 6th baby.) I cannot find anything in the medical literature about it, but I can find studies done on sheep. You might search for prolactin and cortisol and see what you can find. I hope this helps!

  12. Hey, everyone, I found a treasure trove of links about adrenal problems and pregnancy. They were on my hard drive, but I had “lost” them until tonight. I’ve updated the post above with the links.
    ~Anne

  13. Hi. I’m so glad I found your site. I am 34 years old, and have several health issues. I was put on high doses of prednisone for 18 months which has caused adrenal fatigue. It’s been 2 years since I was taken off the steroids, but it just seems to be getting worse. I had a miscarriage about 2 months ago, which they say was caused by appendicitis (appendix was removed). I can’t help thinking that it’s all related. I very desperately want to become a mother, and this was my 4th loss spread over a decade…I am 34 and still childless. I also have PCOS which is a hormonal imbalance, but this didn’t “kick up” until after the long term prednisone, again I think the adrenals being weak is wreaking havok on my hormones. I’ve gotten the hormones somewhat in line, but am still plagued with debilitating fatigue, and aweful anxiety. I can barely leave my couch most days. Because of my age, I am not willing to take years off from trying to conceive. Please tell me what can be done to strengthen the adrenals that is safe during pregnancy. I don’t drink alcohol or coffee, I eat well and get PLENTY of rest. Please advise is the isocort safe for pregnancy? Does it help? If not what can I do??? Thank you for providing this website.

  14. Hi Anne, Thank you so much for all the work you put into this site. I am desperate for help and answers. I am 34 and currently pregnant with my 3rd child, about 20 weeks along. For years now I have been suffering from low energy, extreme fatigue and depression. I don’t know when my problems really started, but my Dad was murdered in front of me when I was 17 and quite frankly I have been a mess ever since, even all these years later. I developed hypothyroidism right after the birth of my first child and have been on Synthroid ever since. Who knows if it does anything to help me; my blood tests are always “normal” but as I am researching I am learning that there are a lot more tests that I need to have done that could tell me more. I have frequent digestive problems, my hair falls out, I’m very overweight, and I have no energy. I can’t even clean my house anymore. My kids have to drag me out of bed every day, and I feel like hell when I wake up. I sleep constantly and still feel tired. I really am in despair; at the end of my rope. I’ve been to my primary care physician twice in the last two weeks begging for help. He is a very kind and compassionate man who listens to everything I say and wants to help me but says he does not know anything about adrenal fatigue (other the extreme forms, Addison’s and Cushings) or saliva testing. He upped the dosage of my anti-depressant. I don’t know what to do anymore; I literally cry multiple times a day every day. I am so scared I will never get better; after all the reading I have been doing I am now scared my unborn baby will be hurt by my health problems. I found a doctor in my city who is both a board certified M.D. and a naturalist. She specialized in anti-aging, thyroid and adrenal function, and does offer the saliva cortisol test. She costs a fortune and of course insurance does not cover any of it and I am poor. I ended up canceling the appt because I was afraid that the pregnancy would affect the accuracy of the tests. Should I pursue the testing even though I am pregnant or wait until after I have the baby? Are there medications/vitamins/supplements that I could be taking to help me that are safe in pregnancy? I almost ordered the tests through Canary Club but not sure if I should and I will have to borrow the money from my sister. I feel so overwhelmed by all the information out there and, like everyone else, have found little to no info. on adrenal fatigue in pregnancy. Any help or advice is greatly appreciated. Amber

  15. I forgot to add that I had a sleep study done in January and I have Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (severe) and Sleep Apnea (mild). Amber

    • Amber, it is common for Synthroid to actually make you feel worse, if your adrenal glands are depleted. In fact, the “crash” I experienced after starting Synthroid in 2006 was what led us to find out I had Addison’s disease in addition to my hypothyroidism. You’ll see warnings about adrenal problems in the drug’s package insert or see http://www.rxabbott.com/pdf/Synthroid.pdf (under “contraindications”). So you really DO need to be tested for adrenal fatigue! See http://anneshealthplace.com/blog/2010/10/monitoring-your-level-of-fatigue/ for some simple tests you can do at home, if you can’t afford the saliva test right now, and if there is concern, you need to get help for your adrenals.

      Now, as I said above, your baby’s own adrenal glands are large enough after around 20 weeks to start helping yours out — but obviously, this is NOT good for your baby. I’m going to start working on a blog post on what to do for little ones with adrenal fatigue, okay? I’ll try to get it posted in the next couple weeks.

      Although I’m not sure exactly what medication you’re on, I’m guessing your doctor increased your anti-depressant because it helps you utilize the seratonin in your body more efficiently. The problem with this is that you will eventually exhaust ALL the seratonin you’ve made, and then no anti-depressant can help. Obviously, you need to find out why your seratonin is depleted and recover, if you want a long-term solution.

      Okay, for some help *right now.* The MOST IMPORTANT thing you need to do is get LOTS of good nutrition in you. First, use a digestive enzyme pill with *every* meal, to take some burden off your adrenals and help with your digestive problems. Second, go to http://www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com/ and try to use whatever energy you have to read it ALL and get help from whomever you can to apply it TODAY. This will help a lot!

      Next, don’t apologize for sleeping so much. At the moment, you need it. You can be a supermom in six months from now (not really…), but for now, sleep as much as you can and accept as much help as you can.

      As I’ve told others, the Isocort has really helped me, but without the testing and because of your pregnancy, it’s controversial. I really recommend my ecourse because it has a chapter on the pros and cons of using Isocort or other kinds of hydrocortisone, and it could help you make a wise decision. Seriously, if you can’t afford it, contact me privately and I’ll hook you up with a scholarship!

      Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m here…
      ~Anne

  16. Wow, Anne, thank you so much for your thorough and thoughtful response. How do I contact you privately?

    I am so frustrated that I am held back by lack of money. I so badly want to go to the doctor I found or order the testing online through Canary Club but I just can’t. I’m so anxious to find out what is really going on with me and to start feeling better. I just know I can feel better than this; that my kids can have a better mom. Maybe I should call that doctor back and reschedule for as soon as I can get in rather than waiting until after the baby is born. I just wasn’t sure if the testing would be accurate while pregnant and I certainly can’t afford to have it done twice.

    I will definitely take all the advice you have offered and do all of the things you suggest. I have been doing so much reading and researching that my head is spinning. It feels so confusing and overwhelming but I am determined to learn as much as I can.

    I’m not surprised that the Synthroid has not helped me feel better. I still have all the same symptoms I had before starting it. As far as the anti-depressants, I’ve been on pretty much all of them over the course of the last 15 years. Right now I am on Zoloft and Wellbutrin but before discovering I was pregnant I was on Abilify, Wellbutrin, and Cymbalta. None of them really seem to do much for me. I am 19 weeks pregnant now so we’ll see how I start feeling after the 20 week mark but the last thing I want is to deplete the baby’s resources.

    I’ve thought about putting myself on all the vitamins I have read to be helpful but by the time I got them all in my cart on Amazon the total was up to $250 for a month’s supply, and more importantly, I do not know about the potential risks to the baby or even what hormones and vitamins I am lacking.

    The more I think about it the more I wish I had not cancelled the appointment with the doctor who does the saliva testing, etc. Maybe I will call back on tuesday and try to get back in.

    Thank you so much for your help and your compassion. I have definitely been feeling alone but now feel a little less so. :) Amber

  17. Forgot to say that I did the pupil test with the flashlight and my eye looked exactly like the eye in the video you have a link to!

  18. Hi Anne. Thank you for all the good information. I have adrenal fatigue. I got my diagnose after my sons birth and do now use cotref as treatment. I feel better. My problem is my son. He is 11 months and I think he suffers from the same as i. What can I do to help him? Can little babies use cortef? My doctor wont listening to me and say he looks fine. I hope you can give me some advise!

    • Nora, I’m not sure what to say. I spoke with my doctor about my own children, and he said that doctors will be very hesitant to label a child because it might keep them from ever getting insurance (at least here in the United States). That would be a very serious problem.

      I also wonder if Cortef shouldn’t be a last resort, especially with a child who probably has much more ability to heal than we grown-ups do.

      Finally, bloodwork doesn’t often show adrenal problems until a person reaches his or her 30′s. (Saliva testing, on the other hand, seems much more sensitive, and I’ve heard that it can show what is going on with even children.) So even if your doctor was willing to look for a problem, he probably wouldn’t find anything.

      My thought would be to try EVERY thing else first. Diet… herbs… sleep… keep a diary…

      Here are some places to start:
      Diet – http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health
      Sleep – http://astore.amazon.com/anneshomeyplace/detail/0345486455

      Keep a tighter schedule to your days than you would for other children. If his body eats and sleeps at the same times each day, his circadian rhythms will lighten up the load on cortisol.

      Check out some books on asperger’s syndrom and autism, and use similar methods for scheduling and reducing “over-stimulation.”

      Again, keep a journal!!!

      Let me know if you need more ideas,
      ~Anne

  19. I was so happy to find this information, thank you for taking the time to post it! I am working my way through AF that borders on the brink of severe. On a few occasions I have almost blacked out. When I felt a blackout coming, I immediately laid on the floor and put my feet up on the couch to get more blood to my brain. I have two children and until this month, I had been pregnant or nursing for almost 5 years. One thing my naturopathic doc recommended immediately was a top quality omega 3 fish oil supplement. I started taking one that also had D3 in it. I just weened my youngest at 18 months and hope to have more kids once I heal from AF. I have been reading about the benefits of placental encapsulation here: http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/?s=placenta+encapsulation&submit=Search I want to try it if I get to have another baby.

    I found that food solutions for difficulty with digestion can be found in foods that are gentle enough for babies who are transitioning to solids: egg yolks, brown rice, millet, vegetable and meat broths (especially meat broths with high gelatin content from chick feet and spinal bones), spinach juice, probiotics, etc. Eliminating gluten helped me too, though I do plan to include it lightly in my diet in the future.

    I stopped checking the news, because most of it is depressing and beyond my control anyway. I have picked up joyful music, such as hymns (and Veggie Tales songs), to listen to. I have completely eliminated high drama movies since even fictional drama will take one’s hormones for a ride. I loved your article on getting a good night of sleep. I had been sporadically using a dark t-shirt to block out light while I slept, now I know why that felt SO good! Thanks again!

  20. I have been feeling beyond bad for YEARS. After being put on an antidepressant by my doctor and becoming suicidal I finally decided to go more homeopathic. It has been a LONG journey, but one that has saved my life, and my family. I finally found a doctor who will not only look at my labs, but my symptoms also.
    I WANT TO TELL EVERYONE TO PLEASE TAKE ADRENAL CORTEX SUPPLEMENTS TO SUPPORT YOUR ADRENALS! MY DOCTOR EXPLAINED TO ME THAT THE PROBLEM PEOPLE HAVE WITH MANY OTHER ADRENAL SUPPLEMENTS IS THAT THEY ARE MADE TO SUPPORT BOTH THE MEDULA AND THE CORTEX OF THE ADRENAL GLAND. YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO THAT. THE ADRENAL CORTEX SUPPLEMENT IS BETTER IF IT IS FROM NEW ZEALAND BECAUSE THEY HAVE BETTER RESTRICTIONS ON THE ANIMALS THEY USE AS THEIR SOURCES.
    I can function like a normal person after taking one pill FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE!

  21. Hey Anne!

    Thankyou for posting all these incredible links! I’ll be passing them on to many other mommies that I know and love.

    I wanted to update you on my own situation as well. I made it through the pregnancy, but I did have to take hydrocortisone the last trimester. I spent most of the time on the couch because I was exhausted for one and secondly I was afraid of “stealing” cortisol from baby. I got blood work done for my thyroid, testing Reverse T3 for the first time. Turns out, I also have high reverse t3. This means that my body was taking all the t4 my thyroid was producing PLUS the t4 contained in the Naturethroid I was taking and converting it all into RT3! In essence, I was becoming more and more hypothyroid every time I took my thyroid meds! This is because RT3 is the INERT reverse isomer of the active hormone T3. RT3 clogs up the cell receptors and does not allow T3 in to do it’s job! A visual for ya, RT3 is what bears produce to keep their bodies asleep all winter! I was also incredibly anemic. Low iron and Low cortisol are 2 of the primary ways a RT3 problem develops. The body reacts to the reality of not enough of these essential things to sustain everyday life with a sloowwiinng doowwnn in order to self preserve. The way it does this is by producing RT3. Sadly, my being on Synthroid for 5 years prior to starting on dessicated thyroid probably got the ball rolling. So, the unbearable fatigue and weakness I have been experiencing has other facets besides Adrenal Fatigue and chances are many people who think they just have Adrenal Fatigue are suffering from high RT3 too. I have been taking steps to correct my high rt3, my adrenal fatigue, and my low iron. I’m feeling some better, but I still have a long way to go. I’ve been slowly swapping out 1/4 Naturethroid for 6.25 mcg. Cytomel for the last 5 months. That’s how you clear the cell receptors, by switching to all t3, but the adrenals have to be properly supported as well as iron serum needing to be adequate. I started on 3 and 3/4 grains naturethroid and only have a half grain left to swap out. My shakiness and weakness improved first with iron supplementation and secondly with hydrocortisone, still needs improvement though. I’m still working on fatigue and low blood pressure.

    As for my baby, I’m happy to say we made it full term! He was a whopping 9 and a half pounds, and 21 and a half inches long! He is even tempered, a good eater, pretty good sleeper, smart as a whip, and has eyelashes to die for! His name means “righteous comforted by God,” because my Lord has brought comfort and peace to my soul by blessing me with a healthy baby! Glory be to God!

    Thankyou Thankyou Anne! Thankyou for putting all this information together. All your time, sacrifice, and hard work are such a blessing to those of us that have been searching for REAL help for our Adrenal Fatigue. May the Lord bless you and keep you!

    Love, T.J.

    • I just found out I’m pregnant and have had adrenal issues for over 2 years now. It started a couple months after I had my last son. I’d love to keep in touch with you and see how you felt after the baby was born. Any tips can give you would be great!

  22. Anne, I’m wondering if you have any information about how to distinguish adrenal fatigue from adrenal insufficiency/addisons. I’m atleast in the exhaustion stage and finding no improvement on glandulars (while pregnant), and this has been a chronic, worsening issue that I just found the reasons for. Any help would be appreciated. Much of the adrenal fatigue information I’ve found seems to be geared to the less-severe side, and I’m in the practically bedridden camp.

    Thanks for the links and website.

    • The only way to distinguish is by blood work from a medical doctor. They first check morning cortisol levels, and often sodium and potassium levels. If any of those are low or abnormal, they will go on to do an ATCH stimulation test, to determine the kind of addison’s disease. Do you have a doctor whom you could just ask to check your cortisol levels?

      If not, or if those levels come back within “normal” range, you can still be feeling terrible and unable to function. At that point, you would absolutely need to get some saliva testing done, to check for your cortisol levels at several times over a day, to see the pattern. This can give a lot of information and help you know where to go next.

      I hope this helps! Please feel free to ask for more direction.

      • Thanks for the reply, Anne. Right now I just see the OB’s and CNM’s, but I have an appointment today with an OB and can see what she has to say. My first experience with a CNM didn’t go so well…she tried to give me antidepressants, which I refused. I’ve been depressed before and this is not it –it’s exhaustion. Apparently her sister had been depressed for some 5 years before getting an AF diagnosis and that’s all she knew, so not of any help. I’ve been debating seeing a local chiropractor/naturopath/herbalist that I know atleast knows what adrenal fatigue is, I just don’t want to spend the time, money, and energy to see someone who may know less than I do! ;)

        Would they do a stimulation test while pregnant? For some reason I thought that was unlikely, though I don’t remember now if I read that or if it was supposition.

        Thanks again,

        • I don’t know if they’ll do a stim test while pregnant either. It seems a little unlikely to me, too. They don’t HAVE to do one to diagnose Addison’s. (I never had one, for example.) My cousin was dx-ed with Addison’s while pregnant, and I think they just ran the cortisol test, then immediately started her on the hydrocortisone.

          Would you do us a favor? If you are able to get this far, will you let us know how it goes? I know a LOT of women are wondering these things. I’ll be praying for your appointment today! :-)

          ~Anne

          • Well, no luck. She wants to retest my Vitamin D (which according to what I’ve read, may eplain some exhaustion and muscle weekness but doesn’t explain any of the other symptoms I have). I don’t mind ruling it out, but if my vitamin D was low at my first OB appointment, then I was put on vitamins for that, and my symptoms have drastically worsened instead of improving, it just doesn’t sound as likely to me as it does to her. Of course she was negating most of my symptoms and didn’t bother asking or even letting me share everything… If that is the problem, by all means fix it, but why the 4-6 month wait with me getting progressively worse? Ah well, I didn’t expect much from this appointment to begin with, but I always hold out some hope or I wouldn’t bring it up.

          • Well, I saw my GP today and she’s ordered a number of tests that I’ll be taking in the morning. A 7am cortisol, ACTH, DHEAS, Ferritin, TSH, FreeT3, FreeT4, metabolic panel, etc. I do have low vitamin D still, but she agreed that did not explain a lot of my symptoms (though it may definitely be related or worsening them). We’ll see how things go. I know most of the tests are thrown off by pregnancy, but hopefully we can find out what is wrong and move forward.

          • My cortisol (Am serum and diurnal salivary) levels are finally all back! The local GP didn’t know what to make of them, especially in terms of pregnancy (since that can increas levels as the baby produces huge amounts that can pass on to the mother in the 2nd half of pregnancy). My ferritin is low, though there are no other signs of anemia and my vitamin D is still really low. I’ve been on high doses of both for almost 3 weeks and the only improvement is that I have an appetite back again. Well, when the GP told me yesterday she didn’t know what to make of anything and would check to see if I was better after another 2 weeks on the supplements, I went ahead and contacted an endocrinologist I’d heard great things about in CA. Amazingly, he and his office staff responded today, he does think I have an issue other than what I’m currently being treated for, and I now have an appointment for Tuesday in CA. They don’t seem to have any interest in doing a stim while pregnant, but we’ll see what they have to say in just a few days and I’ll let you know. Oh, I should add my salt was low too, which can be indicative of adrenal insufficiency. I may also have some hypothyroidism going on, but again I don’t know what is considered diagnostic in pregnancy.

          • Saw the Endo Tuesday. He says I’m definitely hypothyroid (despite 3 MD’s missing that one when looking at the lab results), and he thinks it is central hypothyroidism (as in, caused by the pituitary), possibly caused by Sheehan’s syndrome. He thinks I’m more likely on the high side adrenal-wise and I have all kinds of testing ordered for postpartum (including a pituitary MRI). Just thought I’d update you. The only hormone he wanted to test in pregnancy was thyroid related, all the others wouldn’t be diagnositc in pregnancy and will be tested postpartum (and he was happy with my 8am cortisol and the salivary ones). So I guess that is the update for now. I’m 34 weeks and hopefully I’ll get on my hormone replacement soon and the delivery will go well.

            • Catherine, This is very good news! Sheehan’s syndrome would explain a lot of your trouble, and yet, once you know what you’re dealing with, you can start feeling better. When is your due date? I’ll be praying for you and baby both!

            • I thought I’d update again now that I’m in the middle of testing. I do have low aldosterone (one adrenal hormone), but it is looking like I actually have episodic Cushing’s (high cortisol). Interestingly enough, when the high cycle ends and you enter a low, it can literally be a low because the high ACTH or cortisol has suppressed the pituitary’s own production and it can take a while for it to kick back in (as if I’d been over replacing on HC)…so I can indeed switch back and forth at seemingly random intervals or over hours, weeks, months or even years. Crazy,eh? Still have a lot more testing to confirm…

              • Catherine, This isn’t crazy at all. I’ve heard of this in others, too. http://cushings-help.org/ has an active message forum, and you might find others with a similar problem (and answers!) there. Secondly, do research on circadian rhythms + cortisol, and you might find help in the medical research on how to straighten this out with lifestyle changes.

  23. Thank you for this site and all of the valuable info. I noticed no mention was made about Jeffries’ book “Safe Uses of Cortisol.”. Not only is it a very valuable source of info on AF but also talks a lot about the use of Hydrocortisone during pregnancy. It is very encouraging and every case study of women taking at least 20mg during pregnancy and then increasing as their pregnancies progressed is a successful one! Anne, what are your thoughts on this resource and on increasing HC during pregnancy and delivery?

    Amy

  24. I had not heard of Addison’s…I am currently being treated for adrenal problems with a good dr who does functional medicine and treats based on symptoms. However when I went off supplements I felt terrible…Anyway, I’m wondering if your tests need to say you have complete exhaustion before you should be tested for Addison’s? I really want to give birth this year but I am nervous to do as I don’t want to feel worse or pass that along to a child…and wanted to add I only got this way after having my daughter who seems perfectly healthy.

  25. Thank you so much!! This is exactly what I have been looking for! I will be referencing all your links in the next few days. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

  26. I am having adrenal problems, only I don’t know if I would classify it as adrenal fatigue. My adrenals seem to be switched “on” constantly. It started with episodes of severe shaking, dizziness, nausea, and feeling like all of the physical symptoms of an anxiety attack were rolling over me, head-to-toe, every few minutes for days. I lost a lot of weight, and then would slowly start to recover…only to have another episode a few weeks later. Between these episodes, I did feel wiped out, but would still have these crazy high adrenal symptoms – “fight or flight” when I hear loud noises, awakening with a start, feeling like I need to jump out of bed and run, etc.

    I did the flashlight test and my pupils were definitely not staying dilated, but while I wait to see a specialist, I am wondering if my “switched on adrenal” symptoms are the same as adrenal fatigue? Or something else entirely? Thanks.

    • Those are definitely symptoms of Adrenal Insufficiency…shaky, dizziness, nausea, weight loss (regardless of diet/exercise), exaggerated startle response, salt cravings, low BP, etc. Hypercortisolemia generally leads to weight gain (regardless of diet/exercise), insatiable appetite, trouble sleeping, stretch marks and a buffalo hump, skinny arms/legs with central obesity, high BP, etc. Both can cause horrible, debilitating fatigue. I’d see an endocrinologist, personally, specifically one who has treated and diagnosed AI before.

  27. As I mentioned in a response above, I’ve had adrenal fatigue for 2 1/2 years now after the birth of my last son. I have been taking adrenal supplements and things to support it for that long. I wasn’t planning on getting pregnant but God saw fit for it to happen. Now that I am, I’m wondering what to do. Do we need more of our supplements during pregnancy or did you ladies take the same amount of things? I’m only on week 5 (unless I’m a month further) and my internal tremors and jolts at night have come back. I can’t seem to sleep. Generally it doesn’t last more than two days (in the past) so I’m really hoping tonight I can get some rest. Thoughts?

    • The tremors have stopped since I’ve been resting a lot more. I think it was the initial stress/shock of it all putting me into a crash. I’m still curious if you all take the same things for your af that you did before you got pregnant.

  28. Thank you so much for this, Anne. My mother was diagnosed with adrenal problems and was told that these would make pregnancy difficult – she went into labor at six months. I never knew the two were connected. She was herself very stressed. I grew up in an abusive, dysfunctional environment and later wondered why I was practically catatonic with fatigue. It was constantly misdiagnosed as being psychological but I knew it wasn’t when I was able to change the negative thought patterns (CBT) but not the fatigue. The constant stress and trauma really did a number on me, plus I developed an eating disorder which caused long-term malnutrition. I’ve been nourishing myself with raw whole foods, supplements and rest for five years now with some improvement, although it is slow. I hope to become a mother someday and recognizing some of the effects that this has on the developing fetus helps me to plan and advocate for better medical care.

  29. Hi Anne,

    I am wondering if you have any sources for the age at which the mother can start to draw on the child’s adrenal hormones. I’d like to have something to show my doctor.

    • K – it’s the third trimester.

    • K, here is an article for you (very technical):
      http://edrv.endojournals.org/content/32/3/317.abstract
      A key point they make is, “The role of the fetal adrenal cortex in human pregnancy and parturition appears highly complex.”

      I listed 20 weeks in the original post because, from my own records with several pregnancies, this is when everything changed. I noticed it because I was writing things down, then in later pregnancies, it happened at exactly the same time.

      However, this isn’t going to be very good proof for a doctor.

      My “hunch” is that things start to change around 20 weeks because the placenta changes its production of some hormones at that time (such as hcg), and the fetus’ production of human growth hormone peeks around 20-24 weeks. See http://php.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php?title=Endocrine_System_Development

      All of these hormones are related to each other. There are a lot more studies done on hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism in pregnancy, and these both seem to hit problem times between 20 weeks and the beginning of the 3rd trimester. Since the pituitary and hypothalamus are involved in making these hormones, as they are adrenal hormones, I would assume it all happens around the same time.

      The human body is “complex” and miraculous — and beyond what anyone has been able to figure out, at least yet. The best advice remains to take extra, extra good care of yourself (especially with good nutrition), and to just pay attention at certain times during your pregnancy, so that if a problem comes up, you’ll catch it right away.

      Does this help at all????

  30. I am having a really hard time with my doctor. When I did my cortisol test, it showed that I had low cortisol in the morning, but it was barely within the normal range. Because of this, my perinatologist (high risk OB doctor), said I absolutely do not have an adrenal problem. However, my DHEAs and testosterone levels were both high, which I’ve read indicate an adrenal problem, especially considering the symptoms I’ve been having for months:

    It started with episodes of severe shaking, dizziness, nausea, and feeling like all of the physical symptoms of an anxiety attack were rolling over me, head-to-toe, every few minutes for days. I lost a lot of weight, and then would slowly start to recover…only to have another episode a few weeks later. Between these episodes, I did feel wiped out, but would still have these crazy high adrenal symptoms – “fight or flight” when I hear loud noises, awakening with a start, feeling like I need to jump out of bed and run, etc.

    I’d been taking Standard Process’ Drenamin on the recommendation of my midwife for a few months before the cortisol test, but now I’m wondering what else I can do besides nutrition for the baby – I’m about six months pregnant. Any advice on how to deal with the doctor and figure out what kind of problem I’m having?

    • Jennifer, my answer sounds really bad, because it sounds overwhelming. If, if, if you could find a doctor to give you more cortisol, you’d still likely have the basic problem of not knowing what is *causing* your adrenal fatigue. This is really at the heart of being sick… finding out *why* your adrenals are so overworked. Obviously, you’re pregnant, so they’re going to be exhausted. But you’ve had this problem for awhile, so they’re even more exhausted. Doctors are going to be VERY shy about giving you anything, simply because when you’re pregnant, they don’t know how extra hormones will affect your baby. They don’t want to be responsible for causing harm, and of course, no one will do studies on pregnant women or babies because they (rightly) don’t want to be held liable.

      It’s a catch-22 for pregnant moms, though! And even babies!

      Seriously, head to my “Learning Center” at http://anneshealthplace.com/blog/articles/ I know this doesn’t sound helpful, but absolutely everything I can think of to help is there. Each little sentence of advice, though, is packed… and it moves quickly. You know, “get your sleep,” “control your relationships,” “make sure your food is well digested,” etc. These all sound easy and like they wouldn’t make much difference, but they really will!

      Most all, read how to “monitor” your health, writing absolutely everything down, so you can see what helps and what doesn’t. Be obsessive-compulsive, for your sake, for your family’s sake, and for your little baby’s sake.

      I’ve got some books, too, that would help you, but seriously, the meat of everything I know is in the articles linked above.

      (((hugs))) I know it’s really discouraging! I’m not trying to add to it. But I don’t think you’re likely to find a doctor who will be able to help you at this stage of your pregnancy. However, YOU can help you! :-)

  31. I am desperate for help. I am almost 37 weeks pregnant with my 6th child. After my fifth child I was poisoned by pesticides and became extremely sick. After almost 2 years of detoxing I was doing a little better, but then started having low blood sugar problems, anxiety, insomnia and all the symptoms that go a long with adrenal fatigue. My natural doctor at the time tested my saliva and my cortisol levels were low in the morning and high in the evening. I started on Isocort and after a week of use was becoming very dizzy. When I stopped the Isocort the dizziness went away. The natural doctor said the dizziness was not caused by the isocort, but I didn’t believe it. I started checking around and found an online doctor specializing in treating adrenal fatigue. I started their program in March of 2011. Cut out gluten, changed diet dramatically, and started taking some heavy duty supplements like Vit. C, Glutathione and Panathenic Acid. I gradually started doing better as time went on and felt like I could eventually get my life back at some point. In September 2011 I found out I was pregnant with my 6th child. The morning sickness and the fatigue were almost unbearable. After the first trimester I felt a little better and the farther into pregnancy I got, the better I felt. As I’ve progressed into my last trimester the fatigue is resuming. There are times when I feel like I can’t move if my life depended on it. I am now due in 3 and a half weeks. I have had 3 preterm babies and am surprised that I have held out this long. I am planning a homebirth and have only seen a midwife throughout my pregnancy. I feel turned off by medical doctors who can’t figure out what’s wrong with you and act like it’s all in your head. My concerns for labor and delivery are becoming VERY real. Will I have enough energy to make it through delivery? Will I be safer at home? Will I crash after delivery? And now after reading the problems of people who have tried nursing, I’m even questioning that. Please help me figure out what to do. I am all alone with no family or friends around, because we travel all over with my husbands work. I don’t think my family realizes how serious this is. How did your deliveries go? Did you experience the debilitating fatigue during labor and delivery. I live about 10 minutes away from the hospital. Please, any advice is appreciated…..Thank you, Amy

    • Amy, the symptoms you described could be caused by other hormone issues too…they’re SO confusing. The high cortisol at night and low during the day sounds much like cyclic cushings disease. I experienced much the same problem and worries in my recent pregnancy (minus pesticide poisoning-yikes!)…it is so hard and I feel for you. It was even my 6th as well! I had a really bad go with my OB’s /midwives being less-than-helpful and skipped to a big-wig endocrinologist that specializes in this stuff (www.goodhormonehealth.com). I was getting increasingly sicker while going the natural route, the normal MD’s couldn’t even dx hypothyroidism and I didn’t have the energy to fight/enlighten them, so this was the right choice for me. My delivery didn’t go well, really, but it worked out and I can say that my delivering doctor did everything he could to avoid the emergency cesarean. You can contact me via my blog if you want to talk more…
      I hope all works out!

  32. I read somewhere else that a mom went on bed rest her last trimester to keep baby safe. I’m so torn on this. Part of me thinks it makes a lot of sense so we don’t overdo it. Then the other part of me says a person that isn’t moving is doing some harm to their health as well. I know every pregnancy and situation is different, but what did resting more in the last trimester look like for you?

    • Anyone? I’m on my 21st week and am just kinda wondering what this looks like with someone in Adrenal Fatigue, not Addisons. I’m also wondering what labor will looks like since we are told we have nothing wrong with us since we don’t have Addison’s Disease. No cortisone shot or anything for us. Thoughts?

  33. Hi :)

    I hope you can help me a little here. I have ben using cortef 5 mg x 4 a day in a year now. After years with a lot of problems and fatigue I went to a private doctor who told me my problems was my adrenals. I did some salvia testing etc and had a high score on the symptom list. And cortef has helped me a lot. I have been to an endo an done a lot of testing, but they cant find anything abnormal with my adrenals.
    Now im pregnant in week 12. My private doc want me to quit using cortef because of the potensial risk for the baby.( Low weight etc.) I have tried in almost two months to reduse my dose to 2,5 mg x 4. But it dont work…I feel terrible. Nausea, tired/fatigued, bad sleep, cold/low body tempature etc.
    Today i went back to my normal dose and almost all the symptoms are gone!
    I have tre boys and they all have been struggeling with poor digestive, a lot of crying , astma etc after birth…I personally think this is because of my weak adrenals and that I have used their cortisol in the pregnancy.
    This time I want to try all I can to give the baby the best start.
    So I hope you can give me some advice.
    Do you have the diagnose addison or is it adrenal fatigue?
    What do you think about using 20 mg cortef during pregnancy, will it harm the baby?
    I am so worried and confused, and cant fint much information about this. I hope you can help.

    Nora

    • Nora,
      Your endocrinologist’s recommendation to stop the cortef does NOT match medical literature. I would recommend getting your hands on the book *The Safe Uses of Cortisol* by Dr. William Jeffries, MD. He has numerous references to the safe use of 20mg/day of cortef in pregnancy, as well as recommendations for ensuring its safety. I HIGHLY recommend getting it and reading it, even though it is very expensive. It’s worth it. It is written for doctors and is filled with evidence to please them, but it’s easy for laymen to read as well.

      In addition, scroll up through the comments, and be sure to follow an excellent diet! I can’t recommend this enough.

      Hugs,
      ~Anne

  34. I just finished the book, “Are You Tired and Wired?” by Marcelle Pick. For anyone looking for more info on adrenal fatigue and the diet and lifestyle changes that can really make a difference – I highly recommend!

  35. Hi, I’m new to this whole adrenal fatigue thing, but I am almost positive this is what I have. I am a 30 year old mom of 8 children. Summer of 2011 I was diagnosed with two things: GERD and PMDD. I know now that I don’t have GERD and not so sure about the PMDD, but I definitely display most of the symptoms of PMDD. We just had our eighth child 2 and a half months ago and I am currently BF and supplementing with formula. Ever since he was born, I don’t know myself. I have lost all interest in any and all relations with my husband. My allergies (more specific- my sinuses) cause me so much pain and headaches. Every time I stand from a sitting or lying position I am dizzy and lightheaded. My moods, wow, my moods. Angry, depressed, upset, just emotionally unstable I guess. I suffer joint pain. Extreme fatigue. To the point that I spend all of the days that I can (when my husband is home) in bed. I am still reading up on Adrenal Fatigue but I wouldn’t ever mention to my doctor that this is what I think I may have. My doctor thinks that I have PMDD and that my hormones are out of balance. But what I have realized since my last years diagnosis of PMDD, is that my doctor was so quick to put me on Zoloft and Prozac, she didn’t even test me to check my hormone levels! By the end of July, I am definitely making an appointment with a Naturopathic doctor. I don’t think I can go on like this. My question is: does anybody, on here, with Adrenal Fatigue suffer any of the emotional symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue? I feel totally alone. Thanks in advance Katie

  36. Thanks Amanda :) Sometimes I think I’m crazy lol

  37. I HAVE NO ADRENAL GLANDS DUE TO CUSHINGS DISEASE. I AM 30YRS OLD AND HAVE A SON AGE 5. I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE ANOTHER CHILD, BUT I NEED TO KNOW IF IT IS SAFE FOR ME TO HAVE ANOTHER CHILD, IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE TO CARRY A BABY BECAUSE OF MY CONDITION. I DONT WANT TO TRY FOR A BABY IF ITS NOT SAFE OR POSSIBLE TO CONCEIVE.

    • Dawn, the way I look at it is that you just have Addison’s disease. I would think it would be just as safe for you to have a child as it would anyone else with Addison’s. Does that make sense?

  38. Thanks so much for this article! It really has shed some light for me.

    Cheers,
    Tania

  39. Hi, Anne. I am 35 y/o and have had 3 misscarriages uin the last 3 years. After my third loss we found out we were expecting twin boys. I have lost each pregnancy sometime between 7 and 9 weeks. My first miscarriage I hemmoraged pretty badly and had to have an emergency D&C.
    After my last miscarriage in February, I too have been scouring for information. I started to see an ostepath in April and have been diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue, severe gluten intoleran, leaky gut and estrogen dominance.

    I am on a now gluten, no dairy, no sugar/sweetners, no simple carbs diet. I have eliminated caffeine. I take 12 mg of hydrocort daily and progesterone cream at night. My cycle isn’t getting any longer, I am 23 days like clockwork.

    My DO said that we would see where I am in a year in regards to trying for a baby, but I am very concerened of the risks of trying again. I do not want to lose another lilfe, and if I were able to carry to term, I would feel so bad if they had to live with complications.

    I have a blog where I am sharing my journey as it develops. I would appreciate ANY info or recommendations.

    Thank you

    • Sorry for all the typos! I also wanted to mention that I am taking a lot of vitamins and supplements. I have listed everything on my blog under the “Treatment” page.

      • Robin – Miscarrying at 7-9 weeks is very indicative of low progesterone. I had to use suppositories for my last son and the one I’m carrying to keep them there. The last son I almost lost. Had my midwife not listened to me and had labs run, she would not have known. Hugs.

      • I realize this reply is a bit late however others may find it useful as well. In “The Safe Uses of Cortisol” by William MckJeffries extensively covers the use of hydrocortisone in pregnancy and strongly felt a cortisol deficiency was responsible for many infertility issues. He recounts that during his practice over 240 babies were safely delivered to women taking cortisol replacements. In many cases when prior mutliple miscarriages were a significant issue. Anyway, well worth having a look at the research!

  40. Does anyone have experience with using bovine adrenal cortex during pregnancy? I am on my sixth pregnancy and feel it is the only thing keeping me going. The kind I am using is from Nutri-Meds. From what I have researched, it is the part of the adrenal gland that has the cortisol. I am not entirely sure this is safe, but have a gut feeling it is right for the baby and myself. Has anyone else used something like this with good results?

    Thank you for this site!

  41. I was searching for pregnancy and adrenal fatigue and found your site! Thanks for all the information, I’m sure it will help many women out there.
    Reading through some of the comments I noticed many people with hypothyroidism and adrenal issues haven’t had success with taking thyroid hormones. I just thought I’d mention, from my personal research I’ve understood that when your adrenals are overworked, they cause you to become hypothyroid as a way of slowing your body down, because your adrenals are worn out and can’t work fast enough otherwise. And so when you begin taking Synthroid or other thyroid hormones, it forces your adrenals to continue working hard while they are already overworked, which is why some of the symptoms such as hair loss (which is because of the adrenal fatigue) get worse instead of better when on hypothyroid meds.

    Something I have found to help with adrenal fatigue is reflexology – if you can’t afford an official session with a reflexologist, you can find free reflexology foot maps online. Here’s a site that I like: http://footreflexology.blogspot.com/2007/04/foot-chart_20.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FootReflexologyTreatmentAndFreeFootChart+%28Foot+reflexology++treatment+and+free+foot+chart%29

    They have some reflexology basics on the site. If your adrenals are weak, the adrenal point on your foot will be very tender. Just massage it firmly with something such as the rounded back of a pen, in circular anticlockwise motions. As a general rule with reflexology, the harder you do it (as much as you can bear!) the faster it heals. Hope this helps someone!

    And thanks again Anne, for this beneficial site!

  42. Hi. i think after so many researches on internet this is the only site i found talking about adrenal problems ,i really need help with my questions if possible no dr is really clear with me about it i hear diffeent answer from each doctor,
    i had adrenal gland tumor on the left one they said it was cancer i had it removed with the left adrenal i stil have the right one working well no medication and the hormone blood test i had recently came okay no problem
    i m thinking of geeting pregnant i have twins girls they are 18 and 5 years old son and im 41 i need advise if i should do it with one adrenal gland or it is very risky
    please if you can help me with that im sp despered for a n answer

    thank you

    • my question also if i get pregnanat would i damage my right adrenal ?is my right adrenal can manage the pregnancy stress ?

  43. Hi Ann !

    I have now give birth to my little son. He came with a sectio in week 42.
    I jused cortef 20 mg the whole pregnancy because of adrenal fatigue. My doctor wanted me to stop take my medication but i could not. So I hope my little boy is healthy. So far so good. He seems healthy and he sleeps a lot. My other children have been very difficult the first period, crying, stomac pain etc…
    My question to you is if you have any experience with using cortef and brest feeding. I still juse 20 mg and feel I need more…Im so tired and feel so shaky but I`m afraid to take more. I wish to breastfeed as long as I can but I dont want to harm my child.

    Mvh.

    Nora Øsby

  44. My Mother had both adrenal glands removed before having me, a brother and sister. She takes florinef? and prednisone. The thing that made the most difference across the board with allergies, especially severe Eczema, and fatigue was changing to Goats Milk. Goats milk is easily digestable by humans and the most similar to Human breast milk. My parents bought it from farmers in our valley and then we had goats and milked them for 10 years. The two other things that have made the biggest difference is taking NOW vitamins A & D gels 3 a day (OMEGA 3-fish oil) I also give 1-2 to my cats through the winter and if they are ill or injured. Number two is B-50 (B complex capsules) also from NOW vitamins 1 capsule a day, B vitamins are those depleted by Stress, think of them as the stress vitamins. NOW vitamins are the best I have tried, doses are higher and do not contain alot of fillers that many vitamins contain (especially vitamins made by pharmacutical company’s) Fillers case alot of allergic reactions. HOPEFULLY THIS HELPS and I didn’t see anyone with this information on here.

  45. Drink goats milk and also give goats milk to your babies and children it makes a huge difference and contains good nutrients and natural anti-biotics. Cows milk causes many allergies and extreme eczema in people with adrenal fatigue; it contains protiens that your body cannot break down.

    Contrary to popular believe Goats milk is delicious unless the goats have eaten milk weed or you have let the milk spoil by keeping it too long. 2-3 days is best if not pasturized. Goats are also easier and cheaper to keep and feed then cows. Think of all of the Dairy products that you are eating and feeding your children. Once your body is healthier you can process small amounts of Cows milk. I have never had a problem with ice cream, and lesser problems with cheese.

  46. My father swore by bovine colosterum? and took it in pill form after he retired. He said that he didn’t get sick 1/4 th as much. Before this he would get chronic bronchitus every year and had 3 open heart surgeries.

  47. Thank you for all the info. I am 38 and have Adrenal Insufficiency and Human Growth Hormone deficiency due to a pituitary microadenoma removal in 2007 that also took a slice of my own pituitary. I was told to stop the HgH shots but continue with my dexamethasone to treat the adrenal insufficiency. I was originally put on hydrocortisone but it wasn’t enough to keep me functioning on any level. We have been trying for two years to have a baby and are now 6weeks. The Dr. Office said they do first appts at 10 weeks, but after reading all the info I wonder if that’s soon enough. I had been taking Promethazine each day for nausea before the pregnancy and my PCP said to quit taking it. I had extreme morning sickness with my other children before the insufficiency and nausea everyday before this pregnancy since my surgery in 2007. I don’t know how I will cope without it. Also if morning sickness causes so many instances of meds being injected instead of oral steroids then shouldn’t I be monitored before 10weeks? My endo is four hours from us so I can’t just run in to see him anytime. We talked to three separate Drs before the pregnancy when we decided to try for a baby and they never once mentioned the possible harm to the baby. Now I wonder what I have done and if this will all turn out alright in the end? So much new information to process :(

  48. Hi all,

    Thanks, Anne, for this amazing site. I gave birth to a healthy baby boy last April, and while I had a great pregnancy on HC and Cytomel, I had a horrible labor and delivery. My labor began 3 days before due date with frequent and painful contractions with no progression. My blood pressure spiked eventually to 100/200 which I have NEVER had before, nothing even close, but I did not have any other signs of pre-eclampsia (protein in urine, headaches, etc.) and was diagnosed with just pregnancy-induced hypertension. After three days of labor, tons of medications, nothing would bring down my blood pressure except the epidural and then I ended up having my water broken too but finally had a vaginal delivery after an hour of pushing. Baby was fine at first but developed pneumonia his first night probably from aspirating some of the fluid or because I had magnesium sulfate during labor.

    My question is, how might this situation have been related or not related to the HC. In hindsight I did not start “stress dosing” (taking extra HC at a time when my own adrenals would normally produce more) early enough or often enough and then because of all the additional anxiety of a difficult labor, my anxiety and then blood pressure continued to rise and I was not stress dosing. My sister is now pregnant, and although she weaned gradually from HC last summer and has felt fine (still taking vitamins and Cytomel), I worry that we have not tested her recent adrenal status going in to pregnancy, and she is afraid to take HC again because she thinks that is what caused my high blood pressure. I think it was more likely an electrolyte imbalance or something with aldosterone but I may never know. I just want to do what is necessary for her during her pregnancy. She is on progesterone and had a good first ultrasound tonight.

    Amy

  49. Hi everyone,

    I am 11 weeks pregnant and used to use HC but it never seemed to help me with my anxiety so I use Propranolol, a beta blocker and my doc says it’s ok during pregnancy but online I get mixed opinions. Do any of you know anything about it during pregnancy?

    Katie

  50. Hi! I had a rough last trimester in my last pregnancy, which was in ’09. I am now trying to get pregnant with our third. About a year postpartum, my chiropractor (who is also a kinesiologist and very knowledgeable about nutrition) informed me that part of my pregnancy woes had been due to a stressed adrenal system. I had anxiety, loss of appetite, my mind would race, etc. etc. and it was almost unbearable at times.
    I want to avoid repeating that this time!
    Over the lat eight or so years, I have dealt with light-headeness, low blood sugar and another doc who said I had a sodium deficiency. I also sweat a lot. I’m still trying to piece all of this together, and naturally my primary care docs haven’t been much help.
    I stumbled on your site and am very excited to look into the research you have here!! Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to looking around your site more! Maybe I’ll post on MY blog about this soon! :)

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