Women go through a wide range of hormonal fluctuations during their pregnancy, beginning with rising levels of their HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) – the hormone that determines that they are pregnant – and other hormones like estrogen, progesterone, oxytocin and prolactin.
Our body reacts to such changes; many women have better complexions throughout their pregnancy with a natural glow, fuller breasts and even thicker and bouncier hair.
After childbirth, however, our hormones will destabilise and plummet to their pre-pregnancy levels. Hormonal fluctuations after childbirth can cause many symptoms ranging from fatigue, excessive weight gain, insomnia and anxiety, to the more common case of postpartum hair-loss.
In this Keeping It Real feature, we’ll be looking at postpartum hair loss and speaking to experienced mothers for tips and tricks on how to deal with hair fall.
We also seek advice from Neeta Gosalia of Neeta’s Herbal, a veteran Malaysian wellness and hair specialist who is well-known for helping her clients regain hair growth through her Ayurvedic hair treatments.
Why it happens
Postpartum hair loss is very common among new mothers and can kick in as early as the first week after childbirth. Estrogen, the hormone responsible for hair growth in women, spikes during pregnancy and results in increased growth and a reduction in the volume of typical daily hair loss.
So in layman’s terms, due to plummeting levels of estrogen, our hair is catching up with us after childbirth.
Because postpartum hair loss is a common occurrence, Neeta suggests that expectant mothers take precautions while they’re still carrying.
What you need to do
Here’s what you can do to get your sexy crown back:
- Take early care: Caring for your scalp can begin while you’re pregnant and continue until after childbirth. Scalp care can start at home through the use of beneficial oils like coconut and fenugreek oil, and with scalp massage and by applying Ayurvedic methods. Mothers can also go for steam and oil treatments to stimulate hair growth.
- Stress management: Postpartum hair fall need not be permanent. Women can regain their full pre-pregnancy hair, provided they avoid the stresses they often place on themselves, consciously or unconsciously. Staying relaxed is crucial, especially after childbirth. Mothers, we know it can get quite challenging but for the sake of your beautiful locks Stay Calm and Claim Back Your Hair!
- A balanced diet: Having a well-balanced diet is essential. Up the intake of fruits, vegetables and natural food while staying away from processed food. This will help your body replenish what was lost during childbirth, and allow you get nourished faster.
- Go natural: Multivitamins are often prescribed before and after pregnancy. If given a choice, always go natural or plant-based. Herbal drinks and multivitamins which are beneficial when combating postpartum hair loss include fenugreek, amla seeds, dates and coconut oil.
Postpartum hair loss tips
Our poll results suggest that most mothers have little to no knowledge about postpartum hair loss, particularly those pregnant for the first time. Eight out of 10 women know that hair loss is due to hormone-related changes, while the rest had never heard of it until they began losing hair. However, regardless of whether they had heard of it not, all the women we studied went into panic mode when it hit!
Avoid processed food
Mother of three Priscilla Gono, 37, confessed that she had never heard of postpartum hair-loss. She had always been blessed with thick hair so when clumps started falling off, she got worried. “Thank goodness it didn’t go on for too long. When I started to lose hair quite dramatically I began to watch my diet and avoided processed and salty food,” she said.
Don’t forget your vitamins
Almost all mothers recommend a cleaner diet and higher vitamin intake. The use of hair tonics and specially formulated hair loss and volume shampoos will also add shine.
“Till today, I take cod liver oil, fenugreek, and curry leaves diligently. I also apply hair tonic and go for hair massages with ginger and fenugreek oil,” said Jane, a mother of three.
Hair and scalp treatments
While some mothers escape or recover quickly from hair loss, for others, their hair never seemed to stop falling. Jane and Gen, for instance, battled with hair loss for more than a year! Both mothers ended up going for professional hair and scalp care, as well as ayurvedic treatments. Gen encourages mothers to seek professional help if necessary.
Hair specialist Neeta also suggests that mothers seriously consider consulting a specialist should hair loss worsen drastically.
“Mothers should seek a hair specialist if conditions worsen. Don’t wait until your hair is non-salvageable, when the scalp and follicles close completely. When this happens, hair loss will be permanent.”
Final words on postpartum hair loss
Postpartum hair loss is more common and natural than we realise. Adopt a better diet and healthier lifestyle, and postpartum hair loss need not be permanent. Neither should we be too alarmed when it finally happens.
If in doubt, consult a dermatologist or physician to get a hair scan. Meet with an ayurvedic hair specialist to confirm that there is nothing else hidden beneath your postpartum shedding.
By Dessy Barnaby
Dessy is on sabbatical from her full-time job in public relations, and has since become an expert in drool-wiping and kid-chasing. She now spends her days perfecting her critical negotiation skills with her six and 10-year-old. She’s convinced that becoming a SAHM was the best decision she ever made, and sees writing as the one thing that keeps her sane in her new role as a domestic goddess.