Postpartum hair shedding while you’re transitioning to natural hair can be a scary thing. We all know it’s something that normally happens after giving birth, however, during transition your relaxed hair is already in a weak state and you may fear it will fall out by handfuls in excess of the “normal” shedding during this period.
The Reality is…
On average, we all loose 100 hairs a day and although it may sound like a lot, it is actually considered normal. Our hair goes through a repetitive cycle of active growth, end of active growth and a resting stage (read more here). The anagen stage (active growth) covers about 85 – 90% of our hairs. During pregnancy, this stage is prolonged and fewer hairs fall out. This is when you get that thick, strong, voluminous shiny hair that everyone admires. This happens because during the 9 months your body suffers an increased pick of estrogen levels that keep your hair at the active growth stage.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and most women can expect to start losing hair 3 to 6 months after they give birth to their little bundle of joy. Some women experience dramatic postpartum hair loss while other not so much. If during your pregnancy you had normal hair shedding, then it’s possible you won’t experience much hair loss after you give birth. However, most women are not so lucky and they will shed their normal 100 hairs a day plus all that was retained during pregnancy.
Frustration and exasperation will probably hit those with thin and low density hair as it will be more noticeable for them. Those with long hair will also feel the same as you will see it more around the house floor, clothes and bed linen. However, postpartum hair shedding is completely natural and subsides once the estrogen levels normalise, which is around 12 months after the baby’s birth. Until then there are things you can do to counteract postpartum shedding on your transitioning hair.
Reducing The Effects
Hair Care Practices
Considering that you are transitioning to natural hair, you should already be reducing the use of flat irons and blow dryers on your hair. Now that you’ve just given birth you should stop this altogether, along with any hair dyeing/bleaching, tight hairstyles and hair manipulation. All the pulling, heat and chemical damage will weaken your hair and increase postpartum shedding. Additionally, your relaxed hair will have the increased risk of breaking at the line of demarcation. So, if you don’t want to feel like you’re going bald or have bald patches on your scalp follow this tip.
You might not be ready for it just yet, but you can consider doing your Big Chop (BC) beforehand!? I know it can sound scary, and you’re possibly not ready for it, but it can be a good solution. After birth, some moms experience hair fall in a way that the hair is too short to pull back and they get just a halo of baby hairs. If this is your case, giving yourself a new haircut can mean less time spent on your hair and more on your baby, it would also disguise the hair shedding and some believe would make your hair stronger.
This can certainly be the case since the natural hair oils would take less time to travel along the short hair strand to protect it, whereas when your hair is longer the ends of your hair are always in need of extra care. Plus, if you cut off your relaxed ends you’ll be left with your strong natural hair. If, however, bringing forward your BC is out of the question, then consider giving your hair a good trim.
Massaging your scalp is always a relaxing thing to do to relieve all the stress that a new baby can bring. If you choose carefully you can take advantage of this practice and pair it with the use of essential oils. These will stimulate and increase blood flow to your scalp, which will bring extra oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicles encouraging hair growth and giving you stronger hair.
Rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint are known to stimulate hair growth, just be sure to dilute it with a carrier oil such as jojoba, almond, extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil. Add 36 drops of your preferred essential oil with 6 oz/200ml of a carrier oil of your choice to get a dilution of 1%.
Taking good care of your baby is important, but you should not forget to take good care of yourself as well. With all the attention a baby requires plus all the washing, cleaning, cooking and normal errands, it is easy to forget about ourselves and fall into bad diet habits or skip meals altogether. Doing this will affect the health of your hair and will escalate hair shedding. Aim to have a diverse and balanced diet, I’m sure your nurse and/or doctor gave you a small lecture on this and for good reason too.
Additionally, you can resort to diet supplements to help reduce your hair loss. Omega supplements will make your hair stronger, shinier, healthier and will promote hair growth. You can also try Biotin (B vitamin) supplements which reduce hair loss and brittle nails. Alternatively, you can continue taking your prenatal supplements or take some postpartum supplements but, whatever supplement you take don’t forget to consult your doctor first.
Another food related solution you can try is a simple herbal tea rinse such as green, black or peppermint tea. These are not only good to provide your hair with moisture, but they’re also good to promote hair growth, reduce hair loss and have many other benefits (believe me, I have tried tea rinses and they worked wonders for me). If you want to find out more about tea rinses read this article.
Try to incorporate some or all of these suggestions and see how you go. Please remember, that postpartum hair shedding can not be avoided. You can only try to lessen its effects, and although it may not be of comfort to many mothers out there the hair loss is temporary and your hair will grow back again. If after a year you’re still experiencing postpartum effects it’s a good idea to contact your doctor and see what else could be happening.
Are you suffering/have suffered from postpartum hair shedding? How bad was/is it?