Is it normal to lose hair during pregnancy? Why?
“Hair is everything, it is the difference between a good and bad day. We’re meant to think that it’s a symbol of power, that it’s a symbol of fertility.” – Fleabag, 2019
A lot of changes take place in your body during pregnancy, from the ends of your hair to your toes. This is not exclusive to the bearer of the child, due to the stress and anticipation of having a baby, all parents notice changes in their lifestyle and looks.
Not necessarily bad changes, women often find that their hair looked thicker during pregnancy than ever before. This can be attributed to the hormone oestrogen that affects the growth cycle of hair.
Hair is categorised into two types, anagen and telogen, 90% of hair grows while the other 10% rests. Anagen is the growing hair and telogen is the resting hair. During pregnancy, oestrogen prolongs the resting stage of telogen and as a result, hair that would’ve normally fallen outstays and gives the appearance of a luscious, thick head of hair. Post-partum, once the oestrogen level goes down to its original amount, the telogen falls out, resulting in increased hair loss.
While most pregnant women enjoy thick hair, hair fall can occur depending on one’s health. Hormonal fluctuations and overall health can also act as the causal factor for hair loss. Progesterone is another hormone released during pregnancy, that can cause dryness in hair.
The resultant breaking of hair strands near the roots can be observed as hair loss. However, it can also be, because of vitamin or mineral deficiencies in the body, this is why it is important to make note of any persistent problems.
Excessive hair fall is known as “telogen effluvium” and this is mostly experienced between 1-5 months post-delivery. As the resting phase ends and the hair loss cycle returns to normal, it takes a few months for the hair to get back to its usual form.
Causes of Hair loss
Insufficient Nutrition: Lack of proteins, minerals and vitamins contribute to hair loss. During pregnancy, the body requires more nutrition, to begin with. But excess intake of vitamins can also cause hair fall.
Hormonal changes: Changes and imbalance in hormones affect hair as they interfere with the hair growth cycle. This results in telogen effluvium, the condition is temporary and lasts 6-12 months after delivery.
Medication: Discontinuation of birth control pills or methods can also result in excessive hair loss. Some medicines used to treat high blood pressure or depression also increases the risk of hair fall. In case you think this is the cause, consult your doctor.
Hypothyroidism: Deficiency of thyroid hormone, which plays a major role in regulating metabolism, growth, digestion, hair and nails. Hair fall and brittle nails may be the result of a thyroid deficiency.
Pre-existing conditions: Pregnant women may have gestational diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, fungal infection, skin allergies, etc. that can lead to thinning and loss of hair.
Hair loss is also dependent on genetics, telogen effluvium may be something that is experienced in your family; it affects 40-50% of women. The condition is short-lived however and returns to normal after the delivery.
The underlying conditions like nutritional deficiency or illness can still persist and harm the mother and child, thus they need to be monitored. Remember that experiencing hair loss during your pregnancy is common and you’re not alone in it. You can take preventive measures in order to ensure the loss is not too drastic.
Ways to reduce hair loss during pregnancy
1. Follow a nutritious diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables containing flavonoids and antioxidants protect the hair follicles and encourage hair growth. Also, supplement your diet with vitamins C, E, B complex, and Zinc.
2. Avoid combing your hair while wet, the hair follicle is soft and may fall out easily. Air-dry it or use a towel to gently pat it dry. Protect your scalp from sunlight and heat.
3. Use a wide-toothed comb to brush your hair and avoid styling it in ways that pull and put stress on the hair.
4. Get your thyroid levels checked to ensure a proper balance of hormones.
5. Use hair products that contain biotin and silica, try to use organic products as chemical cosmetics can affect the baby. Massage your scalp with warm coconut, almond, mustard or olive oil to nourish your hair.
Even if you do experience hair problems during your pregnancy, it is seldom the case that it will last throughout the entire term, the last trimester, in particular, is likely to be full of gains and luscious locks.
1. Hair loss is common during and post-pregnancy.
2. For most women, hair is thicker during pregnancy due to the hormone estrogen.
3. There may be excessive hair loss (telogen effluvium) due to other underlying causes.
4. Keep an eye on health conditions, nutrition, hygiene and habits.
5. Avoid chemical interventions, the hair growth will be back on track 6-12 months after delivery.