The social media and the many parenting groups are flooding with questions like- Is postpartum hair loss normal? or What can be the reason for hair fall after child birth? or What are the reason for hair fall ?Don’t panic, new moms! Every mother looks forward to finally meeting their little one but there’s one thing that she may not look forward to is the shedding of thick and shiny hair. Postpartum hair loss is absolutely normal and not a true hair loss.
The postpartum hair loss, also known as “Postpartum Shedding” refers to the excessive temporary hair loss after pregnancy. In medical terms it is referred to as “Telogen Effluvium” or “Postpartum Alopecia”. Many new moms observe a noticeable rate of hair loss at peak after pregnancy in the first two to six months. The loss of hair might not be due to the stress of having a new-born. This effect of pregnancy after child birth is a result of the hormonal changes in the body, being precise the falling of the estrogenic levels.
Some women may experience this condition in one pregnancy but not in another or some may not even experience it. As said, it’s a temporary hair loss, by the child’s first birthday, most of the mother’s get back to their normal hair growth. If the reason for hair fall is unknown and the hair fall persists even after a year, then something else may be causing your hair to fall out.
What causes postpartum hair loss?
The primary and the biggest reason for hair fall after child birth is hormonal changes. The drastic hormonal changes during and after the pregnancy is responsible for shedding of your voluminous, healthy, long and vibrant hair. During pregnancy, it is more likely that you take vitamin supplements, the blood volume increases, the hormones such as estrogens, progestogens, gonadotropin, oxytocin and prolactin increases. This helps in overall development of the body and also your hair to a greater extent. The hiked estrogen levels in the body signals the follicles to enter the growing stage of the hair cycle.
But immediately after childbirth, these hormone levels drop and return to their pre- pregnancy levels. Estrogen and progesterone are majorly responsible for the postpartum hair loss as they prompt the hair follicles to enter the resting phase of the hair cycle. In the resting phase, fewer hairs grow and after about 100 days there they begin to shed.
Additionally, postpartum stress, period, lack of sleep and demand for caring for the new-born also hampers hair growth. Lack of nutrition or proper intake of food can also be one of the reason for hair fall.
How long does postpartum hair loss last?
The postpartum hair loss is not permanent. Basically, the experience of postpartum hair loss varies among women. If a woman has grown a good amount of hair in her pregnancy or has quite long length hair, the hair loss is usually seen more in this condition.
Most of the new moms start experiencing this symptom of excessive hair fall somewhere round the 4th month. This postpartum hair loss continues for several months to a year after the childbirth, but the hair growth patterns typically come back on track after 6 months as the hormone levels start jumping back to their original levels.
But even after a year, if the hair loss still continues and is not slowing down then there can be chances of other health issues coming into play. Consulting the doctor for the same is advisable.
How to prevent postpartum hair loss?
Complete prevention of postpartum hair loss is quite skeptical but you can try to mitigate the losses. Many reasons of hair fall can fall out by –
Maintaining a balanced diet:
The body’s demand for energy after childbirth increases. Nutritional imbalance in the body shuttles energy to the major organs like brain, lungs, liver and heart keeping away from the secondary functions such as hair growth. In order to avoid this, a healthy diet including plenty of protein and iron, fruits, dark leafy vegetables, potatoes, carrots, nuts and seeds is essential. (Easy ways to get balanced diet)
Maintaining hair health:
When the follicles are in the resting phase of the hair cycle, they tend to dislodge easily. Therefore, taking care of your hair is advisable. Go for the shampoos and conditioners those are gentle cleansers and add volume to your hair. Some enriched shampoos with keratin and baobab can also help. Avoid rough brushing and drying of the hair. Make sure you don’t style your hair in a way that the follicles are stretched. A good styled hair cut works here.
Change your lifestyle:
Stress causes depression in postpartum period. Avoid stressing! Cortisol, a stress hormone, can have an undesirable effect on the hair cycle. A good, but gentle exercise practice such as yoga, meditation can help to reduce the stress levels.
Obviously, a nutritional supplement should never be a substitute for a diet, especially when you are a mother. These supplements such as iron, calcium, vitamin B, vitamin C must be prescribed by your doctor for your overall health. This will help your body to get the adequate amount of nutrients along with the diet and will help to minimize the postpartum hair losses. (Nutrition for kids)
Remedies for postpartum hair loss-
Although, every remedy mentioned on the internet might not work for you. Therefore, it is recommended to try any remedy on a smaller patch to check its suitability on your scalp or skin.
The benefits of hair massage for postpartum hair loss is amazing. It increases blood circulation, reduces hair fall and promotes hair growth. Moreover, it keeps you relaxed. Massage gently with lukewarm oil. Coconut oil is best suited but some medicated oil such as rosemary oil, arnica oil may be beneficial.
Fenugreek do wonders to your hair. It helps in reducing the hair fall and also keeping your hair healthy, soft, and clean. Soak the fenugreek seeds in water overnight. Strain and apply the fenugreek water to your scalp. Let it rest for 1-2 hours and wash with shampoo. You can also make a paste, apply for about 30 mins and wash off. Repeat this procedure twice a week for better results.
For centuries, amla has been used as a cure for many hair issues. Amla, a rich source of vitamin C, can be used either in your diet or as an external application. Heat coconut oil with amla powder until it turns brownish-black. Once it is cooled, apply to your roots. Rest it for 2 hours and wash with shampoo. If this feels too sticky for you, then try mixing amla juice with lemon juice and apply it on your scalp. Massage it gently and leave it for about 2 hours. Wash off clean.
Bhringraj is commonly known for its benefits on hair and for hair fall control. Make a paste of fresh Bhringraj leaves and apply it on the scalp. Leave it for 45 mins and then wash as usual. If you don’t have fresh leaves, then try the tablets or powders available in the market.
Foods that can help
Following childbirth, an adequate intake of vital nutrients is of great importance. It will support the body to build up the energy required and keep the body and hair nourished.
Protein rich foods:
Hair is made up of 95% protein. Absorbable proteins must be a part of diet. Some good sources of proteins include legumes, soy, lentils, eggs, fish, beans and dairy products. (Top nuts and seeds for protein)
Vitamin B rich foods:
Biotin, a vitamin associated with hair growth is an essential one to be consumed. Natural sources of vitamin B include dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, eggs, milk, cheese, yoghurt, Salmon and legumes. (What are the reasons of hair fall in kids?)
Iron rich foods:
Iron is essential whether it be pre-pregnancy or post. Anemia is of the major reasons of hair fall. Iron helps in carrying oxygen to your cell. And as hair follicles are nourished by blood supply it is important to have iron rich foods. Good natural sources of iron include spinach, legumes, nuts and seeds, quinoa, dates, beetroot, broccoli, dark chocolate, fishes, ragi. (How foods can help to overcome iron deficiency?)
Vitamin E rich foods:
The antioxidant properties of vitamin E have been hailed for its skin and hair benefits. It helps in reducing hair fall to some extent. Also, vitamin E improves overall scalp, hair health and adds shine to the hair. This vitamin is easily found in nuts, sunflower seeds, soya oil, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado and kiwi.
Vitamin D rich foods:
Vitamin D stimulates the new and old hair follicles. Low levels of which can cause hair loss. Some foods rich in this vitamin include fishes, mushrooms, ghee, certain cereals, milk and egg yolk. (Why calcium and vitamin D are important?)
Vitamin C rich foods:
One of the roles of vitamin C in the body is to create a protein collagen which is an important part of hair structure. Moreover, it assists the absorption of iron. Vitamin C is abundantly found in citrus fruits, strawberries, raspberries, peppers, broccoli and kale. (Which food is power house of vitamin C?)
Zinc rich food:
The deficiency of zinc is one of the reason for hair fall. This is because zinc has its major part of play in hair growth and hair repair. Food high in zinc comprises pumpkin seeds, whole grains, milk products, poultry, beans, nuts, dark chocolate. (Food that can help to get best skin and hairs)
Banana and coconut oil hair mask-
These ingredients all together treat the hair follicles that are damaged.
- 1-2 ripe bananas
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
How to make: In a bowl, mash the banana properly and make a paste. Alternatively, blender can be used. To it add coconut oil and honey. Blend until the texture and the consistency is even.
How to apply: Detangle your hair and make sections. Apply this mixture properly on the scalp and focus on the root. Massage gently. Leave the mask for about 20 mins. Wash with warm water.
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