Postpartum hair loss is a real problem for new mothers. As much as 90% develop this condition approximately two to six months after childbirth.
This disorder – also known as postpartum alopecia – occurs as estrogen and progesterone levels go back to pre-pregnancy levels. During pregnancy, these hormones were markedly increased to make the body more conducive for nurturing a baby. Because these hormones play a role in hair health, hair loss takes place when they revert to normal levels.
While postpartum hair loss is a temporary condition, there is something you can do while you are in the midst of it. Here are some tips that can help you regain your hair after childbirth:
Various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients support hair growth. While you might already be taking these in sufficient amounts, as a mother you might need to increase your intake even more. With the stresses of breastfeeding and childrearing, new mothers need to have an additional 500-600 calories in their diets. And as you do so, make sure to eat foods rich in the following nutrients:
Deficiency in iron can lead to anemia, where insufficient amounts of oxygen and nutrients are delivered throughout the body. This can adversely affect the hair follicles, which can then lead to hair loss.
Since the blood loss associated with childbirth can bring about anemia, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for breastfeeding mothers is 18 milligrams per day. This essential amount can be obtained by eating green leafy vegetables, whole grains, cashews, beans, and lentils.
Low zinc levels in the body may worsen postpartum hair loss. However, such may be reversed easily with proper zinc supplementation. The RDA for new mothers is 11 micrograms per day and such can be met by consuming poultry, red meat, oysters, whole grains, and dairy products.
Selenium may help battle hair loss, as seen in a study of women undergoing chemotherapy. Supplementation does not only decrease hair fall, it can help minimize chemo-associated stomach upset as well.
The Selenium RDA for breastfeeding women is 70 micrograms per day. This can be achieved easily by eating foods such as fish, brazil nuts, pork, beef, turkey, and chicken.
Compared to other nutrients, Vitamin A intake should be maintained at 1300 micrograms per day. This is important in the development of the hair – and the skin as well.
Good sources of Vitamin A include eggs, orange and yellow vegetables and fruits, cod liver oil, and fortified breakfast cereals.
With that being said, it is important to not go beyond the RDA, as an excess of Vitamin A in the system may eventually result in hair loss.
Riboflavin is necessary for several bodily processes, such as fat metabolism and energy production. It is also important for hair health, as a deficiency in this vitamin can affect healthy hair growth.
To prevent hair loss, new mothers need to meet the RDA of Vitamin B2 which is 1.1 mg per day. You can do so by consuming food sources such as eggs, milk, organ meats, lean meats, and green vegetables.
Biotin, which can be found in eggs, almonds, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and cheese, play a major role in hair growth. This was proven in a study of Biotin-deficient children, who demonstrated little (if not absent) scalp hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows.
To prevent Biotin deficiency, you need to meet the RDA of 300 micrograms daily.
A deficiency in folate can lead to skin and nail changes, as well as hair loss. As such, it is necessary to obtain the RDA of 400 mcg per day by eating Folic Acid-rich foods such as beans, cereals, rice, pasta, leafy green vegetables, and citrus fruits.
Iron deficiency in newly-delivered mothers is common because of the blood loss that occurs with delivery. This, in turn, may worsen the hair loss experience after birth. To help combat this, it is best to eat foods rich in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, green peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes, to name a few. This will help you meet the RDA for lactating mothers which is 120 mg daily.
Vitamin D helps boost hair follicle health. As such, those who are deficient in this nutrient may suffer from further hair loss. To get the RDA of 600 IU per day, new mothers are encouraged to eat Vitamin D-rich foods such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that fights free radicals. These substances harm the cells – including those of the hair – which can then lead to hair fall. The RDA is 15 mg per day, which can be obtained by eating peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and vegetable oils.
Probiotics do not only improve skin and gut health, they may help promote hair growth as well. A study by Park et al has shown that intake of probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi and yogurt may help increase hair count and thickness in affected individuals.
Stress can affect your overall health – including your hair. With that being said, you need to relax and take a deep breath whenever you feel like almost snapping. This will not only benefit your mental health, but this will reduce postpartum hair loss as well.
Exercise is a great way to deal with stress, which can further exacerbate postpartum alopecia. Performing a 30-minute mild to moderate workout 5 days a week can help you achieve good physical and mental health. Remember, thlatter is important in reducing stress, which may come aplenty in new mothers.
Apart from eating nutritious foods, exercising, and relaxing, you must take better care of your hair as well. If you are used to curling or straightening your hair, then you need to refrain from doing so for several months. These activities can weaken the hair, which can further increase the number of hairs that you are already losing.
Make it a point to use hair care products rich with the nutrients above. Apart from a healthy diet, applying these substances directly to your locks may help reduce the number of brittle hairs.
Postpartum hair loss may be a nightmare for most moms – but like any bad dream, it will go away eventually. With proper diet, exercise, and relaxation – coupled with the use of good hair care products – you will be able to regain your shiny, healthy crown soon.