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Pregnancy, breastfeeding… and tests

"Healthy" advice
1. Pregnancy, breastfeeding… and tests

What kind of tests do I need to take if I can’t lose weight while breastfeeding?

To be honest, you need to ask an endocrinologist as I am not an expert in this. I will definitely not give any recommendations how to normalise the endocrine profile as it is prohibited by law.

Firstly we need to understand that pregnancy, giving birth, and breastfeeding are a very serious interference in homeostasis, and that’s why these phenomena don’t happen without changes in the endocrine profile. So, hormones don’t normalise straight after giving birth; it often happens towards the end of the breastfeeding stage. Generally, only a doctor will be able to run necessary tests. As a rule, you can start panicking about three months after giving birth, before that it’s better to rely on Mother Nature not trying to change anything radically.

Now, back to our question.

The balance of estrogen and progesterone is the most important factor. Naturally, the levels of somatotropin and chorionic gonadotropin increase during this period, but they should normalise shortly after giving birth.

Thyrotropic hormone (TTH) as well as Bound T4 and Free T4 significantly affect basal metabolism, that’s why they have to be included in the list of tests.

Glycohemoglobin and blood glucose: these tests will exclude or confirm the onset of diabetes.

Insulin resistance is measured by insulin, S-peptide, glucose and leptin tests.
Overall, the tests that analyse the metabolism of fats include: cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL), triglyceride, apolipoprotein B, apolipoprotein A1.

Hormonal testing also includes: bound testosterone, SHBG (Sex hormone-binding globulin), estradiol, androstenedione, cortisol.

Additional tests: Luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin (PRL).

This is another list of tests that will help to understand the reasons of obesity:
Alanine aminotransferase (SGPT)
A complete blood count (CBC) + differential blood count + sedimentation rate
A urinalysis with microscopic examination of the urine sediment
The aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
Gamma-Glutamyl Transpeptidase (GGT)
Total bilirubin 
Direct bilirubin 
Thyrotropic hormone (TSH)
Alkaline phosphatase 
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
Lipid metabolism (triglycerides, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, low density lipoprotein, an atherogenic index)

As you can see, some points are repeated. Only your doctor can identify what specific tests to take. He can also prescribe additional tests.

Preparations before your tests.

A urine sample and venous blood are used for analysis. A night before collecting the urine sample, you have to avoid having products with high concentration of colour and juice. It is not recommended for women to do a urine test during menstruation.

The blood test will also require some preparations. Biomaterial needs to be collected on an empty stomach. It has to be done not less than 12 hours but not more than 14 hours after the last food intake. You have to avoid alcohol, fatty foods, intensive physical activity and high levels of stress 24 hours before the test. All these factors affect the endocrine profile.

You can take a TSH test any day regardless of your menstrual cycle.

To get accurate results, women have to be aware of the menstrual cycle phases and their effect on the level of hormones that regulate sexual functions. If you didn’t get any specific instructions from your doctor, it is preferable to test hormones (FSH, LH, progesterone, prolactin, estradiol) 6-7 days after the start of the menstrual cycle.

It’s also important to remember that the level of many hormones increases with physical activity and, therefore, it’s better to avoid intensive exercise and emotional outbursts when you test cortisol or, for example, insulin.

You shouldn’t test your hormones when you have:

  • A fever
  • Infectious diseases

Based on the results of lab testing, a dietician or endocrinologist can identify the cause of obesity and prescribe a treatment. A proper diagnosis and therapy will help to not only get rid of excessive weight but also recover a normal hormonal balance. If necessary, a complex of tests is taken the second time to track the results dynamically and control the condition of the body.

And one more thing. As a rule, moderate physical exercise normalises the endocrine profile, however, moderation is a relative concept. Either way, “lucky punch” can’t be seen as moderate exercise, that’s why you should visit an endocrinologist first and only with his or her permission you can find a personal trainer specialising in “lucky punch”, crossfit or powerlifting.

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