How to minimise hair loss post-pregnancy and encourage new growth
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Shedding 100 strands a day is normal when brushing or shampooing your hair. But following childbirth, many women experience the distress of losing fistfuls of hair when they scoop it into a ponytail that seems to be getting ever skinnier. While it may be shocking for the new mother, it is a common condition called telogen effluvium that, rest assured, is completely normal, according to trichologist Anabel Kingsley.
Hair basically grows at different rates and in distinct phases: 'anagen' is the growth phase and up to 90 per cent of your hairs are in this phase at any given time. This is followed by the 'catagen' phase, which lasts around ten days, before the resting phase known as 'telogen', when your hair sits in the follicle before falling out.
Approximately 50% of women experience ‘post partum’ shedding.”
Anabel Kingsley, trichologist.
But if you're suffering from telogen effluvium, more hairs than usual will move out of their growth phase and into their shedding phase all at the same time. This is due to a rise in oestrogen, which “essentially keeps hairs in the growth phase for longer,” explains Kingsley, noting that this why why hair feels thick and lush in the third trimester. “After childbirth or after breast-feeding, oestrogen levels return to normal and approximately 50% of women experience ‘post partum’ shedding.” High cortisol levels as a result of little sleep, and nutritional deficiencies in those first few months of motherhood can also cause hair loss.
However, the good news is that this shedding should stop after three months "and the hairs lost will grow back," says Kingsley.
Ahead, some additional strategies to minimise hair loss and maximise hair regrowth.
that It's important to feed your hair follicles. Include protein with breakfast or lunch as this is the time hair cells are their most active, advises Kingsley. Good options are eggs, fish and quinoa. Also up your intake of iron-rich foods such as meat, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and brown rice. Red blood cells contain a protein called haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around the body to all our tissues and organs — including our hair follicles. Without oxygen, your hair follicles cease to function properly, and your hair may fall out.
"When the scalp is in good condition – smooth, with no redness – there is blood circulation in the hair follicle. This creates a healthy base for hair growth," says Sacha Mitic, co-founder of Swedish haircare brand Sachajuan.
While daily hair washing may not be a priority for new mums, it's essential for lifting away plugs of dirt, sebum and dead skin cells that can block hair follicles and lead to the type of inflammation that may result in hair thinning over time. For the same reason, lean on a once-weekly scalp scrub rich in salicylic acid to break the bonds between dead skin cells and oily deposits as well increasing the circulation to encourage fresh hair growth. Sachajuan's Scalp Scrub is a hailed bestseller.
Giving skincare a run for its money, scalp serums call on a high concentration of active ingredients to target concerns like dryness and thinning. Stimulating serums such as Maria Akerberg Nettle Scalp Treatment and Vegamour GRO Hair Serum with star ingredient turmeric can be massaged into the scalp morning or night to create the optimal environment for new hair growth.
If you don't notice an improvement in hair growth after the initial shedding it's worth booking in with a hair specialist at Harklinikken's Copenhagen clinic, who will analyse your hair and customise the brand's growth-enhancing Extract - a topical liquid applied daily to the scalp - for your particular needs to restore hair quality and reverse hair thinning.