Hair loss after pregnancy is quiet common and distressing. This kind of hair loss generally begins about 1-2 months after delivery. Severity is much more in twin/triplet (multiple pregnancies). Onset is a lot of times sudden and a bunch of hairs are lost before even treatment is started.
What causes hair loss after pregnancy?
Reactionary hair loss
Reactionary hair loss, also known as ‘Telogen Effluvium’ occurs because of hair cycle arrest during pregnancy. Similar hair loss also occurs after any major illness. Due to physiological stresses of the pregnancy and childbirth body is in a state. This is similar to any illness. If cesarean section (c-section) is done for delivery, then this kind of hair loss is quite common. Surgery plus childbirth puts too much stress on the body. As a result of this, hairs go in shedding phase rather than in the growth phase.
Lactation requires a lot of vitamins and minerals. If the mother is not sufficiently getting those from the diet, this leads to a relative dietary deficiency. This leads to hair getting less and less of vitamins and minerals for their upkeep.
Due to increased workload after childbirth, many mothers don’t pay attention to their own nutritional requirements. Taking care of a single child or a lot of times twins/more is enormously hard work. Mothers require vitamin and mineral rich foods. This is often neglected. Hairs in the process are adversely affected.
Multiple Pregnancies at More risk
Mothers of twin/triplets etc are at more risk of hair loss after childbirth because of the intense strain on the nutritional resources is put. Also after childbirth, the mother’s works is significantly higher than single pregnancies. This causes physical as well as psychological stress on the mothers. Stress in this form takes a toll on hair growth.
Undetected Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
India is a country where the nutrition of the mother is often taken seriously only when she is pregnant. Before and after pregnancy nutritional requirements like iron, b-complex vitamins, vitamin D3 levels are completely neglected a lot of times. As soon as the pregnancy is detected, most mothers are started on some form of nutritional supplements based on a lab test. If it is found that there is a deficiency of iron or low hemoglobin, then iron supplementation is started for the betterment of the child growing in the womb as well as the mother’s well being. However soon after childbirth, most of these supplements are suddenly withdrawn. This is, as expected, going to lead to post pregnancy dietary deficiencies. Dietary deficiencies are often neglected further for a long time. Only when the hair loss begins, a dermatologist opinion is sought.
Undetected Thyroid Issues
Hypothyroidism (Low Thyroid Hormones) or less commonly hyperthyroidism (Excessive Thyroid Hormones) causes a severe type of hair loss. A lot of time thyroid disorders start after the childbirth. Hypothyroidism is much more common than hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism can occur as a genetic disease, sometimes even before the pregnancy. Pregnancy can also cause the development of anti-thyroid antibodies which attack the thyroid gland. This reduced the thyroid hormones output and hypothyroidism.
Treatment of Post Pregnancy Hair Loss
- First Step is to perform a series of lab tests to identify deficiencies and hormonal disturbances. These commonly include check haemoglobin, serum iron, thyroid function tests, serum b12 level and vitamin D3 levels
- Multivitamins supplementation should be the start of mothers especially iron and b-complex vitamins as often these are found deficient.
- PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy): PRP hair Treatment can help mothers in selected cases. More details about PRP here.
- Minoxidil: Minoxidil spray, although might be effective, should not be used as the mothers are lactating.
- Capixyl: Capixyl Sprays might be helpful and are safe during lactation too. however often in the face of nutritional deficiencies, these sprays don’t work.
- Sleep Regulation: Often underestimated and swept under the rug as ‘mother’s burden’, it should be taken seriously. Help from the family for child care is important so that mothers get adequate sleep.
- Meditation: Meditation and Yoga exercises relieve anxiety and stress where it is mild. This along with regular cardio exercise is generally beneficial to get better sleep and reduce anxiety and stress.
- Diet: Diet after pregnancy is extremely important. Diet should include iron and B12 vitamins the most.
- For Iron: Apples, Dry Fruits and Green Leafy Vegetables, Chicken and Red meat (the Best source)
- For Biotin: Boiled Eggs
- Vitamin C: Citrus Fruits like oranges, kiwi and apples.
- Ragi: Porridge made out of ragi is popular in India. This provided a healthy combination of dietary fibres and iron.
- Counselling and Support: Family support is necessary during this tumultuous time. Hair Loss is psychologically disturbing, especially for new mothers. Fortunately, this hair loss is not permanent and this needs to be understood by the mothers. Hair lost are recovered eventually, it’s just a matter of when. Whenever hair sheds after stress situation like pregnancy the hairs are only temporarily lost, however, they do enter the growth phase after quite a bit of time. That is why patience while treatment is necessary.
How Long it Takes for Hair Loss to Stop?
Results of the treatment depend on how much lifestyle changes are adopted by mothers. Multivitamin supplements are necessary and early discontinuation is likely to further the hair loss. Once the hairs go in shedding phase it takes at least 5-6 months to see noticeable changes. This is why the support of family and patience is utmost important while treating this hair loss. We generally continue the treatment for at least a years before stopping and ensuring that hairs are stabilised now.
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