When you mention the word ‘pregnancy’ to a new mama, there’s a whole host of emotions that surge up. Some feel nostalgic for their baby bumps, others will be glad to enjoy a glass of red again, and then there are those mourning the loss of their oh so thick and gorgeous locks. Am I right?
Weren’t those tresses more lustrous and shiny in pregnancy?
Now handfuls of hair appear to be coming out in the shower and you can’t help but wonder if Granny Mavis was right when she said girls steal your looks. But you had a boy!
After much sifting through anecdotal advice, it was time to consult the experts. I spoke with one of the country’s leading hair loss experts, Trichologist Iain Sallis M.I.T I.A.T to get to the bottom of what’s really going on with our hair, post-pregnancy.
Myth 1: Once you have a baby your hair will fall out
Yes and no!
When you become pregnant the body starts to change quite rapidly, more so with the production of hormones than anything else, as you begin to produce increased amounts of oestrogen and progesterone (as well as many others.) This spike peaks at around 70 days, which has a very good affect on hair growth, leading to a longer growing phase, known as the anagen phase. This means not as many hairs go into the dying phase when they ought to. So you’re not exactly losing your hair post pregnancy, it’s hair that should have fallen out previously but didn’t.
After childbirth comes a drop in hormone levels (this usually happens on day 3 after labour) which is also why some women might feel a touch of the baby blues around this time. The physical and mental shock of the birthing process stimulates a percentage of growing ‘anagen’ hair into a telogen ‘shedding’ state. To get technical, this is called acute telogen effluvium or ‘post-partum’ hair loss.
Myth 2: Your hair won’t fall out until you stop breastfeeding
The shedding usually starts between 2 and 4 months after childbirth. Why this long? Because it takes that amount of time for a dead hair to work its way out of the hair shaft and fall out. Thankfully this usually rectifies itself after approximately 3 months of excessive shedding, as long as there are no underlying complications such as an on going anaemia.
Myth 3: You shouldn’t have coloured your hair in pregnancy
At present there’s no scientific evidence to say that the chemicals used in hair dyes affect the foetus, or affect your hair post-pregnancy. That said, you might just want to play on the safe side and not use a hair dye directly on the scalp. It’s only the skin, which can transfer such chemicals. On the up side, hair is a dead appendage, therefore it can’t react or transmit chemicals, but for the safety conscious mums who still want fab hair, get highlights rather than a full head of colour, which is applied directly onto the scalp.
Myth 4: There’s nothing you can do about it!
This is partly true. You can’t change your hormones or prevent the hair from naturally shedding, but you can ensure your GP is monitoring your iron levels. It’s important to eat lots of protein and iron rich foods to replace what you may have lost in labour. When you can, try to get some sleep too!
Protein is probably the most important food group to eat during, and after pregnancy for hair health, although you have to be careful about which supplements you take. After childbirth you can use a supplement like Trichologist Iain Sallis’ Hairjelly to ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs after childbirth. If you take care of your body, it has a better chance of bouncing back from any problems, which may affect hair post-pregnancy.
About the expert:
Iain Sallis is a consultant trichologist (hair scientist),who has extensive knowledge of hair and scalp disorders with hair clinics located nationwide. He is a regular in national magazines and newspapers where he offers his advice on the topics of hair loss and nutrition for hair growth. For more information please go to www.hairmedic.co.uk
About the author:
Anna Koutras is a London based content creator and blogger. She’s the proud mummy of a lively one-year-old and loves nothing more than exploring the city with her babe in tow. http://flutteringlashes.com/