Alopecia is the technical term for hair loss and is a condition that can affect both men and women. Some types of of alopecia develop in women only, some may have a higher occurrence in men, while some do not discriminate and can affect both men and women.
In this post, I'll be focusing on post-partum shedding or hair loss experienced by women after giving birth. Fortunately, every woman may not experience this shedding and it may not necessarily occur after each pregnancy for a woman, since every pregnancy is different.
What Causes Post-partum Shedding?
During pregnancy, your hair follicles do not shed hair as often as it regularly would. This is caused by an increase in the levels of the oestrogen hormone which slows your rate of daily hair shedding. On average we shed 50-100 strands per day and this amount is significantly reduced during pregnancy. This can result in your hair appearing thicker and there is noticeably less hair in your comb when you detangle or styling your hair.
After giving birth, your oestrogen levels drop and this triggers hair shedding. For some women, excessive hair shedding is noticable soon after delivery or 3-4 months post-partum. Post-partum alopecia most commonly affects the front hairline and temple areas. The hairline may become thin and in some women may recede a bit, for others the temple areas become completely bald and your hair may come out in clumps when combed. Another sign is an overall decrease in the volume of your hair, with your ponytail becoming thinner overtime. Post-partum shedding can last from 6 months to 1 year, but generally should not exceed the 1 year mark.
How Can I Treat Post-partum alopecia?
Over time, once your hormone levels naturally adjust to a normal level, your hair's growth cycle normalizes and the excessive hair shedding transitions into normal hair shedding. Your normal hair density returns and your bald or thinning hairline grows back in. This is an internal body issue so the application of topical treatments like castor oil, vitamin E oil or any other hair growth serum are not guaranteed to increase hair growth or stop the shedding from occuring.
However, to insure that your body gets the nutrients that it needs during this transition, here are a few things ;you can do:
Continue taking your prenatal vitamins especially if you're breastfeeding, since your nutrient levels can become depleted.
Avoid styles that put stress on your hair, since this may make the shedding worse.
Avoid chemical services such as relaxers and permanent hair colours, since this can worsen the hair shedding.
Eat a well balanced diet to encourage your hair health. These include green and leafy vegetables that are rich in iron and vitamin C. Sweet potatoes and carrots that are rich sources of beta carotene and also fish that will provide you with omega 3 fatty acids.
Post-partum alopecia or shedding is normal and is not cause for alarm. It can be alarming because it is not common knowledge and can lead to panic and worry especially if you're a new mother who is already experiencing so many changes with her body! Thankfully this type of hair loss is temporary and corrects itself completely. In the event that you're still experiencing excessive hair shedding after your baby turns 1, then you should see your doctor so that they can help you tackle this issue.
Stay tuned for another installment of this series, if you have any additional questions or comments about post-partum alopecia, feel free to comment below!