There are a lot of things you aren't warned about following the birth of your baby - one of those is postpartum hair loss, also known as telogen effluvium.
For the new mums who aren't aware of this change, it can be extremely distressing to see clumps of hair everywhere - from the shower, to your pillow, your brush, and on the carpet - I even found my hair in my baby’s nappy!
I'm currently missing my thicker, fuller, pregnancy hair and for anyone feeling the same, I want you to know you are not alone in this and the good news is that it's usually temporary and the hair will grow back!
Read on to learn more about the science behind postpartum hair loss, with tips on how to keep your hair as healthy as possible.
Changes in your hair
In a normal cycle, hair goes through a growth (anagen) and shedding (telogen) phase. The average person can shed between 30 - 150 hairs a day as part of this cycle and the hair consistently regrows so the amount of hair generally stays constant.
When you are pregnant, this normal hair growth cycle is disrupted by hormonal change.. It's thought that the raised level of the female hormone oestrogen promotes the growth phase of the cycle (anagen) and hence less hair falls out during pregnancy. After giving birth, the hormone levels return to normal and an increased proportion of hairs shift from the growth phase to the shedding phase which means the hairs that would have fallen out during pregnancy start to shed.
This usually occurs 3-6 months after giving birth and the rate of hair loss should return to normal after approximately 6-12 months.
Keeping your hair healthy
There are no specific treatments to prevent this type of hair loss but don’t panic, this is something that is temporary and the hair will start growing back after a few months. In the meantime, there are few things you can do to keep your hair as healthy as possible:
1. Healthy Diet
Eat a healthy, well balanced diet with foods containing, protein, fruit, vegetables and micronutrients such as iron, vitamin D, vitamin C and zinc.
2. Give your hair a break
Give your hair a break. Avoid chemical based treatments, reduce the use of heat from flat irons and curlers and use a brush or comb that is gentle on your hair like a soft, natural bristle brush or a wide toothed comb. I found using coconut oil or Indian amla oil as a hair mask overnight and washing this out in the morning left my hair feeling softer and smoother. I also apply a few drops of argan oil to the ends of my hair after it has been washed and then allow it to dry naturally. This leaves my hair looking shiny and easy to detangle.
3. Treat yourself to a new cut
You may want to get yourself a new hair cut which is easy to manage or gives a fuller look. Alternatively, you could try a different parting in your hair to help cover areas of hair loss. Try to avoid tightly pulled hairstyles like ponytails, buns or braids.
4. Reduce Stress
Stress can also disrupt the hair cycle and trigger hair loss. I know it can be really difficult to find the time with a newborn but try to set aside some time for yourself to relax. I found postnatal yoga, meditation, meeting up with friends and going for walks with baby to get some fresh air really helped with my stress levels.
5. Speak to your doctor
There are a number of other causes for hair loss including iron deficiency, thyroid problems, acute illness, psychological stress etc. If your hair loss persists, is excessive, is accompanied by other symptoms or you have any concerns, see your doctor to assess and investigate other possible causes. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist to discuss postpartum supplements - particularly if you are breastfeeding, had significant blood loss in labour, if your diet is restricted or to treat any deficiencies.
Patience is key
It's 12 months after giving birth and I can now see new hair growing back! The next challenge now is how to manage my frizzy baby hairs growing in all directions...
All images by @themedicmummy
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