You have given birth and feel like you are losing your hair? Even if this issue is completely normal, you can limit its effects on your hair.
Pregnancy and its physical changes
Many women aspire to have a healthy and happy pregnancy. Have you ever noticed how radiant a woman can look when she is pregnant? It is true that a woman's body and physical appearance change during pregnancy. This can be a source of concern or, on the contrary, of nice compliments that are often welcome!
For a woman, body hair, and hair in particular, are an important component of her body image. Skin and skin appendages, such as nails, hair and body hair, undergo many changes during pregnancy and the postnatal period. Just as she needs to provide gentle, attentive care for her new baby, a new mother should take good care of herself to feel good and energized.
Hair production and composition
Hair, which has the appearance of a thread, is produced by the hair follicle, an autonomous organ capable of self-generation. The hair therefore takes root in the follicle. On average, hair grows at a rate of about 2.5 mm a week. Its growth cycle consists of three phases:
- Anagen phase: active hair growth (4 to 6 years in women)
- Catagen phase: transition with regression of the hair follicle (about 3 weeks)
- Telogen phase: resting state (about 2 to 3 months)
Then, the matrix reactivates and forms a new hair that will replace the one that has already fallen out or will push the old hair and make it fall out. On average, we lose between 50 and 100 hairs per day.
Many factors influence hair growth and density, including nutrition and hormones.
The effects of pregnancy on hair
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase or decrease hair growth. It is not uncommon for women to feel that their hair is more abundant and healthy, as if "boosted" by pregnancy hormones. One of the reasons for this is that the normal progression of hair from the anagen (active) phase to the telogen (resting) phase is slowed down, thus reducing hair loss.
However, in the weeks and months following childbirth, the percentage of hair in the telogen phase increases due to a drastic decrease in hormones called estrogen. Thus, hair loss is common during this period and one can even observe a little more sparse hair. It may appear thinner and duller. This phenomenon, called "telogen effluvium", is temporary and there is no need to worry. Fortunately, it usually resolves itself within 5 to 8 months.
This hair loss may seem alarming by the amount of hair on the brush or pillow, but in reality, it's just a catch-up process... that hair was simply not lost during pregnancy. The hair gradually returns to its normal appearance. Some women, however, will feel that their hair is not as dense as it was before pregnancy.
A few tips for healthy hair
- Eat well and follow Canada’s Food Guide.
- Eat a diet rich in protein, iron, zinc and vitamins, especially vitamin B complex.
- Don't smoke. In addition to all the harmful effects on your health and your baby's, smoking damages hair.
- Sleep well and set aside time to rest.
- Get quality hair products, such as a gentle shampoo and moisturizing conditioner. Ask your cosmetician for advice on making better choices.
- Avoid hair treatments that are too abrasive or harsh (bleaching, very hot hair dryer, flat iron, etc.).
- Avoid overexposing your hair to damaging agents, such as the sun or chlorine from a pool (wash it after swimming).
- Don't brush your hair too forcefully or for too long and don't pull it too hard. Avoid, for example, making a very tight bun.
- If you decide to take supplements or over-the-counter products for hair health, ask your pharmacist for advice on effectiveness. If you are breastfeeding, some products may not be suitable.
It is normal for women to have questions about the health and beauty of their hair. Speak to your pharmacist or cosmetician for additional information.