12 . April . 2019 BY Dr. Sharmishtha Deshpande

This is the period when you are blossoming into a new mom, with an angel, a bundle of joy, that’s bound to keep you on your toes. Everything is new. Anew come the responsibility and requirement, to give time and care to the little boss in your home now. However, amongst all this newness, what you have perhaps forgotten or what you are struggling to understand is the new ‘You’?

So, what do you think? Stretch marks, weight gain, bigger shoe size, increasing and decreasing cup sizes, skin changes, afterbirth cramps… Is that all? Well, a tad too lengthy list, and surely not all negative, that you may have to carry even after you have stopped carrying the baby in you. Well, let us add one more to that list. You enjoyed the thick and quick hair growth during baby bump period, didn’t you? Now it is time to anticipate and accept some changes in your hair, post pregnancy. Worry not! Nothing that will beat the joy of having just had a blessing delivered!

Hair growth during pregnancy!
Hair loss post pregnancy!

Why this rollercoaster?

While you had a belly bump, remember, you also had high hormone levels; extremely high levels of oestrogen and progesterone to be precise. This ensured your hair to bloom in its growth phase which is technically referred to as Anagen phase. Your scalp, no wonder, looked bushy with a head full of shiny and healthy hair (with 95-98% of the hairs being in Anagen phase). All those hair strands which didn’t shed during your pregnancy stretch, but obvious, need to find their way down sooner or later. And this happens after your baby’s birth. While for some this may be after a couple of months from delivery, and for some after a year. There is a sudden dip in the hormone levels leading to severe or moderate hair fall and hair thinning. This condition, medically, is referred to as Postpartum Alopecia. Not all experience this condition and definitely not with the same intensity.

Some may experience it in one out of multiple childbirths, although 90 per cent of new moms invariably some form of hair loss. There are also occurrences of pregnancy-triggered genetic female pattern thinning or baldness and in some cases Telogen Effluvium. Around 80 strands a day during pregnancy and about 400 after that, means you are an absolutely normal new mom needing some help along the way!

Let’s understand what exactly happens to your hair during the pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and post-pregnancy period

As you may have read in our earlier blogs on Hair growth cycle, your hair goes through three stages in its lifespan – Anagen (Growth stage), Catagen (Transitional stage) and Telogen (Resting stage).

The Telogen phase lasts for about 3 months when you are not pregnant. At any point in time, only 1% of the hair follicles are in the Catagen phase. In the final phase of the cycle, which is the Telogen phase, hair starts to fall out from the scalp and the healthy hair follicle then re-enters in the Anagen phase to continue the hair growth cycle.

The ideal A/T ratio for healthy hair is 80:20. There are some events in a woman’s life that disrupt this ratio and needs professional help. Pregnancy is one such event.

When you are carrying your baby in you, your body has a surge of oestrogen that arrests much of your hair in the growth stage itself. This makes you suddenly experience fuller, thicker, faster-growing strands than what they were in the pre-pregnancy period.

When the same oestrogen returns back to normal levels post-pregnancy, it pushes your strands to the transitional phase and soon out of your scalp as well, in the Telogen phase. This transitional period lasts for about three months and hence the average period of when postpartum hair fall is observed is largely after three months from your delivery. It is however not possible to set standards on how much hair a woman will lose and when, as every new mom is going to react differently after delivery. This is because of various factors such as differences in nutrition, stress levels, the growth rate of hair before delivery, trigger effect by other conditions like iron levels and thyroid, PCOS, length, quality and volume of hair during pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and post-pregnancy time.

Hair loss after delivery – Common and controllable

Just after you have delivered your little one, you can evidently notice external and internal changes in you. You are not perhaps ‘you’, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Amongst those multiple changes, is postpartum hair loss. It’s normal and temporary.

Hey new moms! Your hair returns to its usual self in just about 6 to 12 months on an average. However, history also reveals rare cases of moms, who have spotted clumps of hair falling out only after a year or so after childbirth. Experts have clarified after examination, that such cases too are instances of postpartum hair loss.

Therefore, all that we can conclude here is, as postpartum hair loss or hair thinning is a routine condition in new moms, the care you need and the attention that you ought to give to your hair, during this period, should also be simple but built into a routine for it to be effective.

The key point here is that it’s a natural phenomenon that every woman goes through. What is, however, to be made note of is the intensity of the hair fall. While for some, they go through the phase and quickly revert to their original A/T ratio, some others may take longer and experience much severity.

If at any point you feel that the severity seems high, do not hesitate to take professional help. A good Trichologist would be able to help you out with some simple and effective tips. Trichologists – Hair doctors – invest time to understand your case history, especially your pregnancy experience, study your hair & scalp condition and guide on the right path forward. A hair analysis report by the doctor would also help in gauging the A: T ratio (Anagen: Telogen ratio) in this consultation process. Advice may include diet tips, change of lifestyle routine, food supplements or a treatment to course correct.

DIY tips for your tresses! Yes, for your new mummy!
  • Use only good quality and medicated (prescribed) products for your hair.
  • Get a new voluminous haircut done to boost your morale and suit the new you!
  • Don’t opt for tight hairstyles or ponytails that might be harsh or which can cause stress to your follicles.
  • Be gentle on your hair while combing, raking and use wide-toothed wooden comb only.
  • Make sure you seek the help of a professional for your hair. None can understand your hair as much as a trichologist. As mentioned above, he/she shall prescribe an apt hair care regimen after assessing your condition.
  • Have a balanced diet, that includes Hair foods and drink plenty of water to help the hair re-growth process.
  • Set only realistic and achievable targets in returning to your original self and accept that, you shall now require more time to work on your body and health. Don’t be hard on yourself!
  • Keep panic and stress at bay. It’s okay. Your hairs are going to get back to their normal cycle. The shedding is just a short postpartum phase.
    And if it’s not getting back to the normal cycle, it is a blessing in disguise, because it is an indication of something more severe within your body, calling out to you for attention. Probably an SOS call of your body indicating that it is time to visit your Hair doctor.
  • You may also take vitamin, mineral and nutritional supplements after consulting with your Hair doctor.

Hence, all that we urge you to do is to enjoy this phase like never before and never again. The postpartum period is not as cosy and rosy as the Instagram filtered pictures of new moms with their infants from the labour room appear to be. However we are sure, your little one’s smile would compensate for the full life that you are gonna experience.

So step back, relax, and enjoy the little fingers, chubby cheeks, dimple chins, rosy lips of your babies and leave the rest to your trichologist. Guess the best part of it all! You shed hair and yet look graceful; maybe it is the glow of becoming a mom that outdoes everything else under the sun. Chillax! Till now you were just a super lady; now onwards, you are gonna be a super mom! We bet you can and will overcome this too!

Stay tuned for more exciting and educational blogs on hair, health and happiness.

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