4 simple steps to combat hair loss after pregnancy
Among the many not-so-lovely side-affects pregnancy brings, comes the welcome news that your hair is the best it's ever been during this time.
Thanks to all those lovely increased hormone levels, your hair doesn't shed while you're pregnant but continues to grow resulting in a full head of lustrous hair. A small consolation to having to pee a hundred times a day!
But after you have given birth, hormones return to normal levels – then the hair shedding begins. The majority of the changes in the hair are usually noticed 6-8 months after giving birth, with the hair appearing thinner, coarse or dry, and may be more prone to breakage. For some, hair might not shed until after they have finished breastfeeding.
Don't worry, it is a normal consequence of pregnancy, but it can be very distressing for women to notice clumps of hair coming out during a shower or brushing. Thankfully, there are loads of things you can take to minimise the loss and damage to the hair.
1. Upgrading your hair products
I love the Aveda range. It is pricey, but a little goes a long way and they don’t contain harsh sulphates, which may irritate the scalp or strip oils from your hair.
The same goes for hair colouring, which can really dry out the hair. Try to space out your hair colour appointments, or opt for more natural, organic hair dye to give the hair a chance to recover properly after giving birth. Try a few highlights to liven up the hair if you can get away without a full head of colour.
2. Don’t over-wash your hair
Each time you wash your hair, you are likely to see shedding, so to minimise this, try to space it out to three days if possible and use dry shampoo to freshen up between washes. The natural oil secretions will help to nourish the hair follicles during this time and reduce breakage. Bending forwards and massaging the scalp for a few minutes each day will help too as this increases blood circulation of nutrients to the hair follicles.
Granted, the majority of post-natal hair loss is due to changing hormone levels, but there are certain nutrients that really do help hair grow. After pregnancy, it’s common for women to be deficient in certain nutrients, (growing a mini-human uses up a lot of resources!), so here are some of the best ones to look for if want to take care of your hair.
- Omega-3 fats
These are great for hair that is looking dry or has lost it’s shine. Try eating oily fish, flax or chia seeds or walnuts. If you aren’t keen on these, then opt for a high-quality, independently-tested fish oil supplement, with a good balance of EPA and DHA fats.
A member of the B-vitamin family that plays a vital role in the keratin protein that makes up the hair shaft. Deficiency could make your hair brittle, so make sure any supplement you take contains Biotin, along with the other B groups vitamins. Good food sources include Swiss chard, carrots, almonds and peanuts. While egg yolks are a good source of biotin, a compound in egg white is known to inhibit the absorption of the biotin from the yolk, so be aware of that if you are eating a lot of eggs, or egg white in particular.
This lesser-known nutrient is an all-rounder – it plays a really important role in growth and development, also in bone and collagen health, and hormonal balance. It has become very popular as a hair loss remedy because of its impact on skin and nail growth. It's in oats, potato, barley, carrots and cucumber are easy to come by, but there has been some concern recently that levels of silica in soil are becoming depleted, therefore reducing the amount people can absorb from food. Silica supplements providing between 2-5mg of bio-available silica daily should prove really helpful to hair growth.
This vital mineral is involved in over 200 different enzyme processes within the body. It also supports the oil-secreting glands within the scalp that help hair follicles to grow. Try eating some of these: oysters, beef, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and kidney beans. Most good multivitamin and mineral formulas supply some zinc, look for one that supplies at least 15mg per day.
4. Patience is key
Allow yourself at least three months on a good diet and supplement plan before making any judgement on the potential difference to your hair. Also, make sure not to overlook the simple stuff, like getting enough sleep (tricky with a new baby to look after!), minimising stress and getting some daily exercise – these will all support blood flow to the body.
Jessica Bourke is a Natural Fertility Specialist, who deals with all aspects of reproductive health. Her clinical approach is based on evidence-based nutrition protocols, acupuncture treatment, and she also offers functional lab tests to support you on your journey to parenthood. She's a regular contributor to Irish media and co-author of the 'Guilt Free Gourmet' cook-book. As a Mum of two, Jessica understands the challenges of pregnancy and parenting. For more, visit jessicabourke.com.