Is your hair falling out in clumps? It can be nerve-racking can’t it?! Hair loss post pregnancy is common, but that doesn’t mean that you have to put up with it. In this blog, I’m going to explain what causes postpartum hair loss, 4 key nutrients that can help, and how to stop hair loss post pregnancy.
Hair loss post pregnancy
Bodies go through a lot of hormonal changes during pregnancy. One impact of these hormonal changes is that our hair follicles remain in the anagen (or growth) phase for longer periods of time. This results in our hair growing more than usual, making it lusher, thicker and healthier during pregnancy. However, within about three to six months after the birth of our babies, we have a sudden drop in hormone levels. At this point, most of our hair follicles move into the ‘telogen’ (or resting) phase, where they stop growing, and fall out.
It’s like my garden… I’ll plant some new plants, and be really motivated for a while, watering them and nurturing them daily, and they thrive, growing bigger and sprouting more and more flowers every day. Then, I’ll go away, or get distracted and suddenly, the plants are receiving minimal nourishment. The next thing I know, the flowers are starting to die and drop off. And, I’m left with nothing but a few twigs sticking out of my pot.
Although we can’t stop the hormonal changes, we can change our nutritional intake. Nutritional deficiencies can certainly play an important role in hair loss post pregnancy. And, although by 6 to 12 months postpartum, your hair growth and loss usually returns to its normal cycle, ensuring that you are meeting your requirements of these four key nutrients can help to slow down post pregnancy hair loss in the interim.
Number 1: Protein
Although your protein requirements decrease after the delivery of your baby, it’s still essential that you’re getting enough. If you’re flat out nursing, it can be easy to skip meals, and be neglecting your protein intake. Dairy products, meat, legumes and nuts are all rich sources of protein, so try snacking on a glass of milk, a handful of nuts, nibbling on some roasted chickpeas or cracking open a hard boiled egg.
Number 2: Iron
Iron requirements also decrease after pregnancy, but you still need to get enough to stop hair loss. If you lost a lot of blood during labour or were deficient in iron during your pregnancy, your postpartum iron levels may be low, causing you to lose even more hair. Furthermore, if you’re guzzling tea or coffee to compensate for your sleep deprivation, be aware that the tannins, polyphenols and caffeine found in these beverages compete with iron absorption causing your body to take up less. If you need to drink tea or coffee, try to consume it between meals or wait at least one hour after you’ve finished your last meal before having a cup.
Number 3: Biotin
Biotin is a type of B vitamin which we get from a wide range of foods including, but not limited to meat, fish, nuts and sweet potatoes. Although true biotin deficiencies are rare, around one in every three pregnant women develop low biotin levels, and this could exacerbate post pregnancy hair loss.
Number 4: Zinc
Zinc requirements increase slightly if you’re breastfeeding, so you may need to increase your intake of zinc-rich foods. Absorption of zinc is higher from animal sources than from plant-based sources, so if you follow a vegetarian diet or have found that you’re skipping a lot of meals you will need to be particularly aware of your intake of zinc.
Women with Polycystic ovarian syndrome, Crohn’s disease, Coeliac disease or chronic renal failure have increased risks of hair loss post pregnancy, so if you have one of these dietary conditions, or had significant hair loss with a previous pregnancy, it might be a good idea to discuss this topic with your dietitian.
Now, I want you to comment below on which strategy you’re going to undertake first to reduce your hair loss. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask below.
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