post pregnancy hair loss
Health

Post pregnancy hair loss

Wondering why your once luscious mane of tresses is suddenly thinning out post pregnancy? Thankfully, for most women post pregancy hair loss is temporary and treatable.

Many new mums are surprised to find themselves shedding more hair than usual in the first few months after giving birth, but it’s perfectly normal. And there’s no need to panic: You won’t go bald. In fact, your hair should be back to normal by your baby’s first birthday.

Reasons for post pregnancy hair loss

Normally, about 85% to 95% of the hair on your head is growing and the other 5% to 15% is in a resting stage. After the resting period, this hair falls out – often while you’re brushing or shampooing it and is replaced by new growth. An average woman sheds about 100 hairs a day.

During pregnancy, increased levels of oestrogen prolong the growing stage. There are fewer hairs in the resting stage and fewer falling out each day, so you have thicker, more luxuriant tresses.

After you give birth, your oestrogen levels take a tumble and a lot more hair follicles enter the resting stage. Soon you’ll have more hair coming out in the shower or on the brush. This unusual shedding will taper off and your hair will be back to its pre-pregnancy thickness about six to 12 months after you give birth.

Not all women notice dramatic changes in their hair during pregnancy or the postnatal period. Among those who do, it tends to be more obvious among women with longer hair.

What can I do about it?

You won’t be able to stop the hair from falling out, but you can experiment with different hairstyles or products (such as hair thickeners or mousse) to give your hair a fuller look during this transition period.

Approximately 90% of your hair is growing at any one time, while the other 10% enter a resting phase. Every two to three months the resting hair falls out and allows new hair to grow in its place. Telogen effluvium is the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy. This is not uncommon, affecting somewhere between 40 to 50% of women; but like most changes during pregnancy, it is temporary.

Is there abnormal hair loss during pregnancy?

Hair loss that is connected to pregnancy usually occurs after delivery. During pregnancy, an increased number of hairs go into the resting phase, which is part of the normal hair loss cycle. This condition is not serious enough to cause bald spots or permanent hair loss, and should begin to diminish within three to four months after delivery. If you feel that you are experiencing unusual hair loss while you are pregnant, this may be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Can hair loss be related to other reproductive health issues?

Hair loss can be triggered by anything that involves a change in the oestrogen hormone balance in your system. Hair loss may result from any one or more of the following:

  • Discontinuation of birth control pills or any other hormonal type of birth control method
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Abortion
  • A hormonal imbalance

From trichologist Deborah Whelan.

Hair loss in the months after pregnancy (post partum alopecia), particularly in women with low iron, is fairly common but usually not too serious to cause upset.

Unfortunately, for some women, the amount of hair lost in the months following the birth of their child can be alarming and it can cause anxiety and panic.

It is important for women in this situation to realise that this type of alopecia is temporary, it does not destroy the hair follicle and it is unlikely that they will go bald. Often, normal hair growth will resume within a few months.

Women who experience severe hair loss or who find that the shedding is very excessive or continues for more than three months should consult a certified trichologist or their GP.

Trichologists can provide an immediate diagnosis and prognosis, advice for optimal hair growth through good nutrition and proven topical treatments that encourage new hair regrowth and faster hair growth.

Look at your diet

Nutritional deficiencies and a diet low in healthy proteins are a common cause of thinning hair and vitamins/supplements are no substitute for a balanced diet.

My advice for avoiding episodes of poor hair growth or thinning hair would be to eat a balanced diet that provides enough energy and nutrients for the body to allow the hair to grow normally. The hair cells are the second fastest growing cells in the body and they respond very quickly to deficiencies or adverse changes in our diet and our health.

A small amount of protein (poultry, nuts, lean red meat, fish, eggs or beans etc.) should be included in the three main meals of the day as hair is made of protein and protein deficiency can cause thinning hair and poor quality hair. Contact www.trichologist.ie for help in locating a registered trichologist in your area.

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Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

A
Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.

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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….