Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Hair, hair everywhere, not a single strand to spare,
On the pillow, in the drain,
It really is such a pain,
Oh! How I live each single day in despair.
It’s become a part of my everyday life. So much so that I can’t imagine a single day without it. I’m talking about hairfall, by the way.
It all started 3 years back with the arrival of my second bundle of joy. And, just like the latter, my hairfall problem too seems to have chosen to live with me, permanently.
I was definitely aware of some hair shedding as normal practice post childbirth. So when I first experienced strands of hair falling out each single time I combed after the birth of my second one, I wasn’t too surprised.
However, as days passed, the falling strands turned into bunches and that got me worried. This is when I looked up online and what I found lent me some consolation, back then at least.
Postpartum Hairfall Is Temporary
A quick Google search on the subject revealed an astounding fact. While hairfall is normal for everyone and an adult sheds about 80 hair strands a day, new moms seem to shed roughly about 400 hairs per day! Gosh! It got me worried. I wondered, at this rate how soon am I likely to go bald?
But the next line in the research article seemed reassuring. It said that while hairfall after childbirth is just as natural as the latter itself, loss of hair tends to slow down about six months after delivery to what it had been before pregnancy.
I counted six months after and made a mental note of it. Admittedly, I began awaiting the day eagerly, much more than my child’s first birthday!
While I was online, I decided to run a quick search on why hair starts falling so much after childbirth and this is what I found.
Why Hair Falls After Delivery?
Interestingly, your hair is at its best in terms of luster and volume when you’re pregnant. This is because of a sudden surge in estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy, which in turn help promote constant growth of hair.
I too realized upon reading this how my hair felt thicker when I was expecting my second one. How I loved looking at and feeling my hair in those days. I sighed.
Anyway, I continued reading the research report which further revealed what happens after childbirth. These hormones tend to balance out once the child is born. Consequentially, the hair growth stays in what is known as the “resting phase” wherein the growth continues just as normal. This phase usually lasts for about 3 months post delivery.
Thereafter, hair starts shedding off, a stage we understand as postpartum hairfall. The hair that was thick and lustrous during pregnancy starts falling, making way for new hair growth to follow.
This part got me interested and I read further to learn until when postpartum hairfall continues. It said the experience may vary for different women; however, 6 months is when you can expect hairfall to slow down or go back to what it was before pregnancy. In some cases, the hairfall may be severe and may even last longer, say up to a year after childbirth.
A year is what they said but even though my child’s 3 birthdays have passed, here I am, still struggling, still waiting for the “seemingly postpartum hairfall” to stop.
New moms tend to shed roughly about 400 hairs per day!
Hairfall May Not Necessarily Be Postpartum; There’s Other Stuff At Play Too
Having dealt with bunches of hair falling each time I comb or shampoo my hair, I’ve come to realize that hairfall in most cases (even mine) can’t always be blamed on hormones. I would hear fellow mom friends often complain about similar troubles and saying that “it’s all hormone play” at work.
It may be true and, going by the research, it sure seems that postpartum hairfall may vary and extend up to even a year in some women. However, shedding of hair can be attributed to a number of other factors (especially when it seems to have gotten perpetual like in my case).
Here are some of the other common factors that may contribute to consistent and severe hairfall in women after chilbirth (which may be mistaken as hormonal or postpartum condition):
1. You’re stressed, undoubtedly
Let’s face it. As much as motherhood is a joyful and thrilling experience, it sure can be pretty stressful. Not to mention, when you have more than one child at hand, the situation is very different. The everyday stress of handling two kids (particularly when both are small) would surely show up somewhere.
In some women, graying of hair is common after childbirth. In some others, severe hairfall, hair thinning and even balding may start appearing as a visible sign of stress.
2. Your body needs more nutrients now than ever
As a new mom, you have the extremely important responsibility of breastfeeding your newborn. Breastfeeding, though essentially helpful for the baby’s growth, can also deplete a mother’s body of all the vital nutrients.
As such, it becomes more important now than ever to take care of your diet. And, it isn’t just a month or three months after childbirth that need to be given particular attention in terms of food intake. Most women eat healthy for a short span (say 3 or 6 months after delivery, deeming them to be the most important). As time passes by and the baby grows older, moms tend to get busier, inevitably ignoring their own body needs and diet in the process.
Lack of essential vitamins and other nutrients contributes to excessive shedding of hair which may last longer than expected.
3. Your hair is your least priority now
Who thinks of combing hair daily or shampooing them regularly when you have a baby to look after (more than one means double responsibility; no time).
You’re busy and stressed at the same time looking after your newborn. If you have two or more kids, the situation is even tougher. And as the children grow older, the work only seems to keep mounting.
Amid all this, it’s easy and natural to forget your own self at times - no time to eat and sleep on time, even go to the bathroom sometimes! Combing/shampooing/styling is definitely the last on the priority list (sometimes doesn’t even figure on it).
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels
Few Tips That Helped Me Control Hairfall
Once I figured that my hairfall problem could be a result of some of the factors mentioned above, I took care of a few things; brought about some lifestyle changes. I was glad to see a noticeable slowdown in hair shedding - at least a good start. Here I wish to share some of those simple tips with fellow mom friends who may find them useful too.
1. Keep time to de-stress, seriously
I know it’s easier said than done (mom to two kids, I perfectly understand) but it isn’t impossible. Read my post on Moms Need Me-Time Too and why it’s important for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of them and their family.
Set aside at least a few minutes in a day (I say minutes because new moms may hardly find more time than that) to just be yourself and relax. Do anything you find joy in at the time, even just take a short nap, if that makes you feel happy and relaxed. You sure are sleep-deprived and you deserve it, without a doubt.
As your baby grows older, you might start finding more time in the day which you can call your own (minutes may become hours, though just a few). Use that time to enjoy what you like the most to your heart’s content, without a guilt :) You staying stress-free is the first step to preventing excessive hair shedding.
2. Take care of what you eat; it’s important
As mentioned earlier, your diet has an important role to play in your hair growth. Breastfeeding and all the inevitable stress don’t help the situation either. Make sure to continue eating healthy even months after you’ve delivered. It goes a long way in repleting all your lost nutrition during childbirth and nursing stages.
Stock up on foods rich in protein - nuts, fish, eggs - or if you’re a vegetarian - plenty of legumes, beans, cereals, fresh fruits and green vegetables, particularly leafy ones. A diet rich in antioxidants helps provide protection to hair follicles, restoring and encouraging new and healthy growth.
3. Keep your hair moist; it helps
I know you’re short on time to take care of your hair but as I said earlier, it pays. Just like other parts of your body, your hair deserves attention too which you’d only realize when they start falling and are seen strewn all over and around you.
Keeping your hair moist is one remedy that seems to have helped control my hairfall considerably. While applying oil before shampooing is usually advisable, I find leaving a bit of oil on my hair after shampoo more helpful. Yes, it does make the hair look and feel sticky but moist hair is definitely tangle-free and breaks less often (even lesser than hair left dry).
Giving your hair and scalp a regular warm oil massage at least 2-3 times a week sure helps. After shampoo, if you find your hair getting dried up and tangled (particularly in places where the water’s quite bad/hard), applying some amount of oil thereafter helps solve the problem to a large extent.
4. Take care of your hair hygiene too
Shampoo your hair at least once a week; avoid overdoing it though because excessive use of harsh chemicals is only going to add to your hairfall problem. Once a week is generally recommended. Also, try and go in for a shampoo/conditioner that’s gentler on your skin.
Hairfall isn’t always postpartum. There may be other factors at play too.
5. Comb gently with a wide-toothed comb
A wide-toothed comb particularly helps even out tangled and unmanageable hair. Sometimes, using the wrong comb or exerting too much pressure while combing can also result in weakening of hair follicles and excessive breaking of hair. Therefore, try picking a wide-toothed comb that’s generally gentler on all hair types.
6. Wear clutch-clips instead of rubber bands
I noticed that large amounts of my hair would get stuck between all those tight, fancy rubber hands I’d so fondly use to tie up ponytails or buns. Elastic rubber bands end up pulling out hair while removing them and even hurt in the process.
Switching to clutchers, hair clips or barrettes (big clips) proved much more useful. Not only did they look equally stylish but no hair strand would ever get stuck between them! A huge relief.
7. Say no to hair stylers for a while
While you’re battling the hairfall problem, it might be a good idea to take a short (actually welcome) break from hair-styling tools such as blow-dryers, curlers, flat irons, etc. I know women who like to go for permanent straightening because their hair starts thinning and they find any other hair style embarrassing to wear.
However, styling of hair using accessories or harsh chemicals at this time isn’t a good idea because it’d only worsen the quality and life of your hair. Until hairfall is controlled or stops permanently, avoid going in for perms, highlighting, and the like, as well.
Hairfall post delivery is normal; however, it’s natural for women to freak out when it becomes excessive or lasts longer than the expected postpartum phase. I too am still trying to cope up with it every single day; yet, the tips above have sure helped me a great deal. Also, I’d like to tell my mom friends out there that we’ve seen and dealt with a lot since pregnancy and childbirth which made it all worthwhile the day we became a mother. One more hurdle in the path can’t be that unwelcome.
Tried these tips? Found them useful? Please share your experience with this post and let me know by leaving a comment below. Follow me on social media for more such posts. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to get regular updates in your inbox.