Oh baby! Why does it feel as though my hair is thinning out during these first few months of motherhood?
Clinical Trichologist, Eva Proudman explains below, why post-partum hair loss (telogen effluvium, to give the condition its proper name) can be a common but unexpected after-effect of pregnancy and childbirth – another of those things that you’re just not warned about to add to the list! However, with some simple self-help tips, you may be able to take back control of the health of your hair and not let any additional anxiety blot those precious early days with your new baby.
Over to Eva.
The first thing to remind yourself is that in the vast majority of cases, this is a transient condition and your hair will grow back to its full thickness in time.
Around 90% of new mums will report some level of post-partum hair loss within the first 3-6 months which can feel frightening or disconcerting, particularly if you’re already feeling a bit vulnerable and anxious. As a rule, fewer hairs are shed during pregnancy as the raised levels of oestrogen help to keep your hair in the Anagen (or growing) phase, for longer.
One of the plus points of pregnancy is that you won’t be shedding the 100 or so strands of hair every day that you would do normally! That’s why many women find their hair feeling thicker and fuller, particularly towards the middle and end of their pregnancy. You may even recall and cherish friends and family commenting on your shiny luscious locks as you experience that final stage of blooming and blossoming!
However, whilst oestrogen goes into overdrive during pregnancy, levels do drop quite quickly after giving birth and, as such, the hair that has stayed in the growing phase moves into the shedding phase. This is when some women may start to notice that extra hair loss.
In general, this excessive hair shedding is temporary lasting just a few months, eventually correcting itself. However, sometimes there can be other factors such as diet, tiredness, depletion of stored vitamins and minerals that can lead to a continued and excessive shedding. If you still feel worried about hair shedding and ongoing ‘thinning’ then booking a full consultation with a Trichologist to discuss these concerns is advisable.
To help keep ahead of any changes to the health of your hair during or post-pregnancy, Eva has outlined some simple but effective tips to look after your locks.
You are what you eat: assuming no underlying health, hormonal or medical reasons are identified, diet is really key to the way the hair grows and sheds, so focusing on your nutrition can really help. The hair needs around 25% of your total daily protein intake, so eating good sources of protein and iron (such as eggs, lean meat, pulses, dairy and green leafy vegetables) is a great place to start.
Give your hair some R&R: sleep is vital to the health and vitality of hair. As the hair follicle is the second fastest dividing cell in the body, it needs lots of energy, so sleep really is key (admittedly, not always easy with a new-born baby!).
Be kind to yourself: Managing your stress levels will help as well – there are many Apps available that allow you to unwind and relax such as Headspace and Calm, which can be used in a spare 5-minutes when baby is napping. As with all self-care advice, do try to take some time for yourself to look after your overall well-being, from head to toe.
Keep your hair hydrated: it’s not just hair loss that those pregnancy hormones can play havoc with. Hormonal changes can also cause a decrease in the production of sebum (the hairs natural moisturiser, produced by the sebaceous glands).
When less sebum is produced, the hair can actually feel as though it has more ‘body’. However, less sebum can sometimes make the hair feel dry so do make sure that you use a good conditioner that will hydrate the hair (both during pregnancy and afterwards). Glycerine is a good ingredient to look for as it really helps with hydration.
Remember, it won’t last forever: don’t panic and don’t be persuaded into investing in lots of supplements and lotions – even if they ‘promise’ to stop the shed! They are unlikely to help in the long run. Try to be patient and your hair will replenish, grow and flourish – just as your new baby is!”
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