If you thought the weird symptoms would end at the same time as your pregnancy, you’re in for a shock. One of the most surprising (and distressing) things for new moms is finding their pillows and shower drains full of hair. Just how much of a problem is postpartum hair loss?
Why does it happen?
The first thing you need to know is that a certain amount of hair loss (even an amount that seems worrying at first glance) is completely normal. Your hair has a three-stage life cycle: the actual growing stage, followed by the resting phase before it falls out. When you’re pregnant and your body experiences an ongoing surge of oestrogen and progesterone, that growing phase continues for longer than it usually would. That’s why your crowning glory probably looked even more glorious during pregnancy. But what comes up must come down, so when those female hormone levels plummet after birth, all that extra hair falls out. Don’t worry – the fall-out stage will be followed by a new growth phase – you’ll soon start to see the start of brand-new fuzz around your hairline.
When is it not normal?
Things should return to the way they were in six months, but if they don’t, it might be worth visiting your dermatologist. A lot happens to your body during pregnancy, and you may find that your thyroid has been affected, or that ferritin levels in your blood (which help your body store iron) have altered.
Can you do anything about it?
Yes! Start by making sure that you’re eating a nutrient-rich diet that will help your body cope with the stress of taking care of a newborn, as well as the physical demands of breastfeeding. Look for foods that are high in protein: lean meat, fish, eggs, legumes and pulses. Also, don’t be afraid to shampoo: washing your hair won’t speed up hair loss. If those strands are going to fall out, they will − no matter how frequently (or infrequently) you wash them. Finally, remember that hair loss is often a symptom of stress, so do what you can to relax as often as you can. If you’re still concerned, consult your doctor about medical preparations and procedures that may help to stem the loss.
Products to try:
BioMedical Emporium Scalp Serum, R655
Available from BioMedical Emporium
The tetra tissue protective Peptide Scalp Serum not only reduces the production of the DHT hormone, which causes hair follicles to go in a static state, but also calms the scalp and reduces scaling.
Vigro 3-step System starter pack, R220
Available from leading pharmacies
The active ingredients in Vigro assist the scalp with non-genetic hair thinning by cleaning and opening the hair shaft, preparing the scalp and assisting hair follicles to reduce hair thinning through the active ingredient Follicusan. The Vigro 3-Step System also provides a combination of vitamins and minerals needed for healthy hair growth. Consult your doctor before using Vigro capsules during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Available from Dis-Chem
This shampoo contains a complex obtained from phytoactive wheat, soybean and ginseng extract, which provide energy to the hair bulb in the form of nutrients needed to strengthen hair.
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.