When you’re pregnant, you may be described as having a glow about you, looking radiant and youthful even if you aren’t always feeling your best!
Part of the reason for this is the flood of hormones which rush through your body, keeping your skin plump and supple and your hair thick and glossy.
Oestrogen is responsible for ensuring your hair remains within the “growing phase” when you are pregnant. This means that the hairs you would normally lose stay on your head, contributing to those luscious locks.
After the birth of the baby, and particularly when any breastfeeding has finished, oestrogen levels can plummet as the body readjusts itself. This swing causes the hairs which should have been lost to fall out, making hair appear to be much thinner, at least temporarily.
At a time when the woman may be battling to regain her pre-pregnancy figure, another blow to her self-confidence can be extremely distressing, which is why post-natal hair loss can be a real issue for some new mothers.
What to expect
During the normal course of events, you can expect to shed around 50-100 strands of hair every day without noticing any effect on your appearance.
However, the retention of hairs during pregnancy means that when they are all lost during a short space of time, the results can be quite noticeable.
Typically post-natal hair loss occurs around three months after the birth, or after breast feeding stops, and can continue for 10-12 weeks. Post-natal hair loss very rarely lasts longer than three months; if you continue shedding hair for longer than this, you should seek specialist advice as there may be other factors contributing.
This type of hair loss is only temporary and although the effect can be extremely distressing at the time, there’s no need for drastic action. Within 6-12 months, hair growth should have returned to normal.
Simple tips to try
Although your attention will inevitably be focused on your small baby, it doesn’t mean you should just forget about your appearance entirely. Having a hairstyle which is easy to manage and looks good with minimal effort is particularly important when you have a baby to take care of.
If the hair loss is relatively minor, a volumising shampoo could help to mask the effects. These work by coating each individual strand, thereby thickening them and increasing the overall volume of your hair. It doesn’t treat the root cause, but improves the appearance while your hair recovers naturally.
Avoid any shampoos labelled as “conditioning” or “intensive” as these can weigh down your hair; also choose a conditioner specifically designed for fine or thinning hair. Only apply the conditioner to the ends of the hair and not the roots.
A thickening spray can also enhance the appearance, helping your help to look more voluminous and full.
A more radical solution might be to opt for a different style. A good hairdresser will be able to suggest a style that disguises any hair loss and helps to create the appearance of thickness. In many cases a shorter style can be more flattering.
Although it can be extremely upsetting, take some comfort in the knowledge that if the hair loss is simply caused by the pregnancy, it will soon return to normal.
However, there are some extra steps you can take to help expedite this process. Special supplements designed to maximise hair growth can ensure you are getting all the right nutrients; this isn’t always easy to manage when there’s a small baby in the house.
Don’t be tempted to plump for a regular high street multi-vitamin as these rarely contain the levels required to optimise hair growth. Specialist dermatology or hair clinics will be able to provide much more powerful supplements which will make a visible difference.
Taking a supplement can be particularly important if you are suffering from prolonged post-natal blood loss. Low levels of iron in the blood have been linked to hair loss in young women and can delay recovery from post-natal hair loss. Taking supplements specifically designed to top up these levels could help to speed up hair regrowth.
Post-natal hair loss is no laughing matter and it can feel extremely distressing. Although the effect is temporary and is just a result of the body correcting itself following a hormonal surge, it can be traumatic to shed a much larger amount of hair within a short space of time. Many of the above tips can help to disguise the issue, and the suggested treatments will also help you to regain your hair growth far more quickly. If you find either the hair loss or a lack of regrowth continues for longer than expected, consult an expert as there may be other factors which are having an influence.
Image Credits: Hypnobabies and Kirsten Hanlon