During pregnancy my hair was bountiful and grew in abundance - I was naively boastful about its length. Even in the few months after birth, I thought I had somehow avoided the dreaded hair loss that so many of my friends had spoken about! Unfortunately, somewhere between 3 months and 6 months postpartum, my edges faded to whiskers and for my second child, it was even worse!
The truth is most women (over 60% according to some studies) experience postpartum hair loss! Commonly a woman’s pride, there is no easy way to deal with it as everyone has a different and difficult relationship with their hair. And whether it’s a few strands or handfuls- the feeling can be just as hard hitting!
Below I summarise the best things to do to prevent the amount of hair loss! If you know someone who's pregnant or just given birth-then share this article with them in good time, they will thank you for it!
What causes hair loss after a baby?
During pregnancy, there is a rise in a number of hormones (eg. oestrogen and progesterone) and a rise in both blood volume and blood circulation. The combination of these factors causes more blood flow to your follicles and sustains the ‘growth phase’ of your hair cycle - causing these glorious illustrious long locks that many women experience!
After pregnancy, the hormones drop and the blood volume and circulation decrease. As your hair has been sustained in the growth phase for 9 months, this causes a rather dramatic loss of hair, as it makes up for all the lost time! It feels a lot because it’s all happening at one time, but in actual fact it’s probably the culmination of what you would have naturally lost over the last 9 months!
Breastfeeding can delay the start of this happening as the hormones stay around for a little longer- so you may notice as you start to wean onto solids or off the breast, this change begins to happen.
Typically they say the hair loss stage can last up to 3 months but if the amount of hair loss persists it would be worthwhile getting some blood tests to check your iron, ferritin and thyroid levels. Kara Bloom offers some home blood monitoring tests here.
What can I do?
So, the big question is- what can you do?! Whilst it’s true that you cannot stop the inevitable- it is possible to slow the hair loss and manage it better. Here are some of my top tips I’ve been able to bring together:
Continue your prenatal vitamins for at least 3 months after birth and continue onto another womens multivitamins afterward. This is even more important for breastfeeding mothers! Ensure your vitamins contain the key markers like iron, zinc and vitamin D!
I'm sure it comes as no surprise to any mother that stress does a number on many aspects of one’s health and wellness- and hair loss is no different! I also know that telling a new mother to be less stressed is probably one of the most triggering things that they can hear. But it's a fact- wherever you can reduce your stress, you can reduce the amount of hair loss you experience. Sleeping when the baby sleeps, bulk cooking or getting a partner to watch the baby more often will make a difference to how you feel inside and out.
Eat a balanced diet
It’s so important that you eat a healthy and varied diet with plenty of protein to aid in the hair growth process. This includes drinking plenty of water (remember we talked about the benefits of increased blood volume)- hydrate, hydrate hydrate! For foods rich in iron and Vit C try Oranges, red meat and dark leafy greens like spinach. For Vitamin D opt for fish and egg yolk, Beta Carotene try sweet potatoes and carrots and for your Magnesium and Omega-3s go for your fishes!
Massage with oils
Massaging the scalp and specific problem areas is known to boost blood flow and feed the follicles. Using the balls of your fingertips massage the areas for two to three minutes each morning and night. Let's not mention it's a major stress reliever!! I recommend castor oil to stimulate your follicles, but others include Almond oil, Argon oil and Coconut oil.
Avoid heavy styling
Reduce the frequency and intensity of how much you comb your hair. Start with your fingers to detangle and move on to a wide tooth comb, remembering to never detangle hair when it’s dry! Use light conditioners and avoid sulphate containing shampoos which strip away the natural moisture. Absolutely take it easy on the blow drying and flat irons- ultimately you need your hair to get back into its growth phase as quickly as possible.
Avoid the extra hair extensions
Although tempting, where you can avoid different hair extensions- you may think you are hiding the problem, but eventually you’ll have to deal with it and it could just end up making it worse. If you are going to get any extensions then try to keep it in for the shortest time possible. For example clip ins - great for when you are on the go but avoid making them a permanent member. The weight of them and others like weaves or braids can really weigh down on your delicate hair strands.
Talk to a specialist
If you are worried- just remember there are a whole host of people who deal with this issue for a living- they are called trichologists. You really are not alone. From follicle stimulating techniques to injections to medications - there are a number of ways to address the problem if it is becoming more worrisome and getting you down.
Embrace the change and be patient
It usually shouldn’t last longer than 6 months for the amount of shedding to reduce, so it's important to remember that it won't be like this forever! Why not make the most of this opportunity and sport a new cut, colour or accessory! It might just be time to experiment and tru something different!
There you have it! The most important thing is to be kind to yourself! Your body has just grown a human, brought it into this world and is now navigating this new normal and the changes it goes through on that journey are onl temporary! Try a positive sentence like: Your beautiful baby is worth every strand of hair I lose and I won’t let this temporary situation get me down!
Stay safe Mum xo