With two ladies being pregnant in the salon, we got thinking about the impact pregnancy can have on your hair…. ??
It can be a bit of a rollercoaster for our follicles. Pregnancy itself can be amazing for our hair but often childbirth and afterwards we can find the exact opposite may happen.
I am currently in my 5th month of pregnancy, and like a lot of other women at this stage, I am experiencing the affects of the increased levels of oestrogen pumping around my body. Oestrogen has an extremely positive affect on the hair. The amount of hairs we lose daily dramatically decreases when we are pregnant, normally we would lose up to 100 hairs per day, this can decrease all the way down to 10 hairs per day! ?
So no wonder your hair can feel so much thicker. There is a higher percentage of actual growing hairs on the head, we call this the Anagen Phase (growing phase) in the hair world, the amount of anagen hairs can increase up to 10% whilst pregnant. Usually you will have less scalp complaints, less dandruff and less problems with greasy unmanageable hair, as we may produce less sebum.
Unfortunately, just as we are getting used to our “new hair” the inevitable happens - childbirth! ?? Our oestrogen levels start to fall making their way back down to pre-pregnancy levels, this may result in quite a lot of hair loss known as postpartum alopecia. Everyone is different - levels dropping at different rates. Someone with thicker hair may not notice as much shedding but those with finer/thinner hair may find it might have quite an impact, this can affect over 45% of women. It can be a very stressful and frightening time, as a lot of women will not understand why their hair is shedding at this accelerated rate. It can start anywhere from 2 to 6 months after birth and can last around 3 to 9 months - sometimes longer. The hair that is excessively shed will be replaced, the excessive shedding is a condition called Telogen Effluvium. Telogen is the “shedding stage”. The hair that would of shed in the last 9 months hasn’t and now actively is.
As your hormones are levelling out you will start to see this is temporary and the rate of hair loss is slowing and importantly being replaced.
The worst thing a woman can do is add stress into this equation, as this can result in even more hair loss and prolonged shedding. Even the trauma of giving birth and the body going through labour can provoke hair loss, especially if we have surgery or lose a lot of blood.
One myth is that breastfeeding will halt the progression of post-partum alopecia. Breast feeding may slow the dip of oestrogen in the body but the drop in hormone levels and the hair shedding will still occur - but perhaps at a slower rate.
Diet plays a major role in hair loss. When we are pregnant we may be victim to nausea or vomiting which isn’t always isolated to the first trimester, this can lead to deficiencies, or perhaps you have had food aversions to certain foods. For example, I used to love cashew nuts, rich in magnesium and iron, these nutrients would have been great for me and my growing baby but I cannot go near them at the moment ?. My main point is - a good balanced healthy diet is essential during and after pregnancy. Your body will prioritise your growing baby during pregnancy and will prioritise your vital organs over your hair follicles EVERYTIME!
An important thing to note is that the hair will fall regardless what is going on externally, the cause of the loss is internal so do not be frightened to brush or shampoo your hair. I know it is an unbelievably daunting experience to see all that extra hair in the brush or in the shower but it will return to normal through time and even knowing and preparing yourself with this information may be helpful.