For the most part, I was a normal pregnant lady the first time around. I read all the books; I followed all the dietary restrictions, and I was scared about everything. It’s funny, but it’s true. For most of us in modern times, pregnancy is a time of great uncertainty. Quite often, books only make us more scared, listing out every possible thing that could go wrong, every bite of food that could be toxic to our child, every improper sleeping position or exercise. It gets to be exhausting and anxiety-inducing. Meanwhile, many benefits accompany the growing life inside you. A natural glow seems to fill your entire aura. Your senses seem to come alive. And your hair suddenly seems thicker, longer, and more luxuriant. How is this possible? You wonder. And will it last?
Table of contents:
- Pregnancy Hormones and Hair Growth
- Changes Caused by Estrogen
- Postpartum Hair Loss: Why Is My Hair Falling Out?!
- What to Do About Post-Partum Hair Loss
Pregnancy Hormones and Hair Growth
During pregnancy, your hair does indeed grow thicker, and it seems to grow much faster than normal, leaving you feeling like you have the hair of a model in a shampoo commercial. Apparently, pregnancy triggers an increase in estrogen to flow through your body. Estrogen stimulates your hair follicles, and it can encourage your hair to rest longer on your head. All this biology means your hair grows healthy and does not shed as quickly as usual. Thanks, estrogen! Increased hair on your head is not the only change you will see during pregnancy.
Changes Caused by Estrogen
- Thicker, shinier nails;
- Increased facial and other body hair;
- Soften ligaments, often leading to back pain and exercise injuries;
- Weight gain;
- Fluid retention;
And these are just the most noticeable changes. Of course, not all women will experience all the effects of increased estrogen. They are common though, and for many women, hair growth has a downside: hair loss.
Postpartum Hair Loss: Why Is My Hair Falling Out?!
Yes, the downside of the rush of estrogen encouraging hair growth is the rush right back out of estrogen once you’ve delivered the baby. If you have already experienced it, you know about those telltale clumps of hair in the drain, the excess hair that comes out in your brush, and the obvious thinning of your hair. It can be so frustrating. It was one of the side effects I either was not prepared for or had completely forgotten about after my first baby came along. “Why is my hair falling out?!” I worried anxiously as it fell away in my hand under the showerhead.
Not to worry, though. It is completely normal. 40% to 50% of women will experience postpartum hair loss, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Of course, some women are devastated by this news, especially if they already had finer, thinner hair to begin with. It can often feel as though your hair is even more lackluster than your pre-pregnancy locks, and that can be an awful reality to confront when combined with other postpartum hormonal changes, especially for first-time mothers.
What to Do About Post-Partum Hair Loss
The thing about new motherhood is that it is all so unexpected. All of it. We are the center of attention when we are pregnant, with people fawning over us, reaching out to touch our bellies (with or without permission), and asking us dozens of questions about our condition. Then, we have the baby, and we suddenly feel invisible. The baby is now under the spotlight (for good reason, of course), and the mama, the one who carried and delivered this little bundle of joy, is chopped liver.
Add to this feeling of invisibility the rush of hormones your body undergoes now that the baby is delivered, and you get postpartum results of all kinds, including hair loss.
The good news is that all the measures you can take to help your hair will also help your whole body and mind and can alleviate if not eliminate many postpartum side effects.
Drinking plenty of water will help balance out your hormones, assist in milk production, and contribute to healthy, hydrated hair.
Yes, getting your fruits and veggies, not to mention nuts and legumes, will restore lost nutrients. Eating red meat and dark leafy greens will replace lost iron. Dairy will supply calcium in hair and nails. You may be tempted to chow down on easy fast food or microwave dinners, but empty calories will do your hair no favors.
Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
I know. I know. The saying has been around for years, and most moms I know laugh at it. “Haha. I have to do things when the baby is sleeping.” But I will tell you, this is one piece of advice I took to heart with both of my new babies, and I believe it made an enormous difference in my hormonal balance, which goes a long way toward your hair, skin, and nail health. Remember, stress is a major contributor to hair loss.
Check Your Products
And finally, look at what you are putting on your hair. If you don’t recognize any of the ingredients on your bottle of shampoo, conditioner, or other products, you probably should not be putting it on your hair. Invest in products that are all-natural, plant-based, and aimed specifically at promoting healthy hair growth and maintenance. Wow Skin Science has a line of premium hair products to check out if you’re in the market.
Self-Care Is Not Selfish
Ultimately, I will tell you what I tell any mom who will listen: you are the only one who can give your baby a happy mom who loves her life, and your baby deserves that. Happy moms feel good about themselves, and healthy hair goes a long way towards feeling good. Your hair will fall out after you have your baby, but in most cases, it is just resetting itself back to normal. It is up to you to care for it, and yourself, from there.
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