When I was pregnant I didn’t exactly feel my best. My skin was changeable and over sensitive, my back kept seizing up and I gained a limp from about 30 weeks onwards (due to dreaded Pelvic Girdle Pain). The only part of me that seemed to improve was my hair.
Strangely my burgeoning bump was making my hair double in thickness and not a strand of it seemed to malt – something that it would normally always do come the summer months. ‘Your hair is so thick!’ cried my hairdresser every time I went for my five-weekly cut and colour. ‘It will drop out though, you know,’ she said knowingly. ‘A few months after baby arrives’.
So here we are 15 weeks in and my hair is shedding at a rate of knots, if you’ll excuse the pun. It comes out in tufts when my baby clutches at the ends while feeding or being carried around, and the bathroom floor is a depressing reminder of how much I’m really losing.
So why does a woman’s hair malt after having a baby and why does it get thicker during pregnancy? To answer my many questions and to find out when I can expect things to return to normal, I spoke to Yasmin Aly, founder and CEO of ConsultMyBaby.com. Yasmin works as a full spectrum doula, antenatal teacher, postnatal care and breastfeeding specialist, sleep coach, pregnancy and postnatal massage therapist and parenting expert. In short, she knows her stuff when it comes to procreation.
During pregnancy 100 or so hairs a day that (this varies per person) that are supposed to fall out, don’t – which then gives you the appearance that your hair has grown or seems thicker
Many women find that their hair becomes much thicker during pregnancy. Why is this?
“This is mostly due to a rise in the hormone estrogen during pregnancy. Previous to being pregnant, this hormone usually rises and dips, however during pregnancy it stays risen till the end. In terms of hair, usually, hair follicles go through a cycle of growth – rest – fall out, but during pregnancy, the hormone estrogen prolongs the growth and rest phase – this means that the 100 or so hairs a day that (this varies per person) that are supposed to fall out, don’t – which then gives you the appearance that your hair has grown or seems thicker”.
What is postpartum hair loss and why does it happen?”
“Postnatal hair loss occurs a few months after you have given birth when the level of oestrogen in your body goes back to normal. Once the level of this hormone goes down, the hair follicles on your head return to their normal growth – rest – fall out cycles, which means that not only does hair fall out (as it normally would) but all the hairs that should have fallen out daily during your pregnancy fall out together. This can happen either all at once, over a few weeks or even a few months.”
Is there anything we can do about it? Products, vitamins etc?
“As the hair loss is based on hormones, the best thing you can do is give it some time. Saying that, there are a few things that you can do which help your body with this process (and help your hair look a bit fuller in the meantime)”.
Internally you can:
– Eat a diet filled with nutritious, vitamin and antioxidant rich rood.
– Some women have reported that taking vitamin A, B6, B12, collagen and zinc tablets have helped.
Externally you can:
– Wash your hair with volumising shampoo
– Brush your hair really gently
– Avoid the urge to pull out clumps where you feel hair might fall out
– Keep your hair in a loose hairstyle, nothing tight or too restrictive that pulls on your hair
– Avoid straighteners and blow dryers
Roughly how much hair should you expect to lose and when will things return to normal?
“Every mama is different. Some mamas I have worked with have had very little loss – other mamas (including myself) had really bad hair loss with frontal and central bald spots. Some mamas it only lasts a month or so, other mamas it has lasted 3 months and more. What I can say is, it does get better. By 6 months postpartum, you should see that your hair has stopped or significantly reduced falling out. After that it only gets better and starts growing back! As with any health concerns, if you are really worried, book an appointment with your GP as in some cases, it may not be postpartum hair loss but other issues. You will know – trust your instinct”.
Yasmin is mum to Dre and founder & CEO of ConsultMyBaby.com – By Yasmin. She works as a full spectrum doula, antenatal teacher, postnatal care & breastfeeding specialist, sleep coach, pregnancy and postnatal massage therapist & parenting expert. Yasmin is extremely passionate about reproductive justice, ensuring women’s rights are heard in and out of the birth room and protecting women’s space.
For more information on postnatal hair loss, pregnancy, birth or baby matters, you can reach her at www.ConsultMyBaby.com.