After having my first baby boy I was given A LOT of advice. Let me rephrase that. I was given a lot of unsolicited or frankly misinformed nuggets of advice.
Most advice was regarding my parenting or decision making. Example: breastfeeding over bottle, opinions on screen time, when to introduce solids, what stroller would I use.... ideas on sleep training etc. Imagine an acquaintance's opinion on how I should let my child sleep or eat, it was annoying.
About 3 months after I delivered, I found myself looking for specific advice on how to deal with my shedding hair. Looking back, what I found was a lot of misinformation. I'm here to shed some light on some of the biggest myths regarding postpartum hair loss I saw out there.
1. Keep Taking Your Prenatal To Minimize Hair Loss:
This may be the biggest recommendation I've been told and seen on the web. Like most new Moms I took the advice I was told and stayed on my prenatal after I delivered. In fact, it wasn't until after my second pregnancy that I even questioned my ob about the prenatal helping with hair loss.
The answer I got was rather disappointing. This vitamin that had been recommended to me over and over again offered minimal help for hair.
If you look up why you take a prenatal during pregnancy this is what you will find: "The prenatal's purpose is to help promote the development of the baby's teeth and bones." (mayoclinic.org)
... In fact the Mayo Clinic goes on to say that taking prenatal vitamins for better hair or nails likely won't bring the desired results.
So why does every OB I know brush off my hair concerns and tell me to just keep taking my prenatal?
Answer: Prenatals typically contain higher doses of essential nutrients like folic acid, calcium and iron, they help make sure your new baby is developing healthy while nursing, and can help you feel better as you recover from childbirth.
They are not made to help with postpartum hair loss. Read that again. While staying on one, will likely be better for your hair than nothing at all ( they do contain some essential vitamins), they likely are missing vitamins and minerals a specific hair vitamin would contain to help hair grow and thicken.
Mythbuster: Prenatals are for the health of the baby: Postpartum hair loss vitamins like Baby Blues are specifically made to reduce postpartum hair shed and get hair growing faster.
2. Shampoo Less:
It's commonly thought that not shampooing often will reduce hair loss for some reason. The truth is, how frequently you wash your hair will not affect the amount of postpartum hair you lose. If your hair is ready to fall it will.
Why is this such a myth? Typically the sight of increased strands falling in the shower after pregnancy is, well... scary. Seeing so much hair at one time can make you want to put off washing it again (or if you are me, turn into picasso and leave your husband shower hair art).
The truth is, ( according to countless dermatologists and stylists): You will lose the same amount of strands whether you wash it daily or once a week. It won't have an impact on hair fall overall.
Don't be too alarmed by extra hair fall out, if you go some extra days without washing. You are seeing hair that would have fallen out if you'd washed a day or two prior.
Seeing all that hair saved up between washes can actually be pretty traumatic, and while showers may be hard to come by as a new mom- there really is no reason to put them off for fear of losing extra hair.
In fact, keeping your scalp clean will actually help your hair growth. What you will want to be cautious of is overdoing it on product.
Washing about three times a week, while using quality products that won't cause hair to dry out and break is the best habit for postpartum hair.
3. Cutting Your Hair Will Lessen Shedding:
There are few things better than a fresh hair cut. The scalp massage, the dead ends coming off...someone else drying it. Hell, someone else washing it!
Honestly, for a new mom a trip to the salon is self-care on steroids.
Should you get a cut? Absolutely. Will it help lessen postpartum hair shedding? Not quite.
Now this myth is a a bit of a half truth. While hair that is going to shed is going to shed regardless of if it's long or short, getting a cut might not be such a bad idea.
Getting rid of breakage and split ends will absolutely make hair look healthier and fuller. In fact, there are styles like the bob or angled cuts that will also make hair instantly look thicker and more voluminous.
If you are looking to scissors to ease length for manageability you can absolutely see results. A shorter style might make more sense to you so baby isn't grabbing at your hair but if you love your long locks and think a chop will ease the shedding you may find yourself disappointed.
4. Its Hormonal There's Nothing You Can Do But Wait it out...
There are several reasons why hair sheds in the 4th trimester. The first and most common reason is hormones dropping. After delivery levels of estrogen return to normal rather suddenly after being elevated throughout pregnancy (they were keeping hair in the growth phase).
When they drop and hair switches to the shedding phase (telogen), you experience shedding.
Now if this was the only reason hair shed in the postpartum period this might not be a myth, but it isn't.
The stress of delivery and the adjustment to having a new baby at home is also a factor in why our hair sheds.
Additionally, if you do make the decision to breastfeed, keep in mind you are literally sharing your nutrients with another human.
Nutrients that would have been used to feed your hair and scalp.
It is a major myth to assume hair loss after a baby is strictly hormonal. Anytime you have a major life stressor it can impact hair health and giving birth to a baby is certainly no exception.
Things you can do:
- If sharing nutrients with your baby its best to ensure you are getting plenty of protein and iron rich foods.
- Speak with your doctor and look at supplement options to help ensure your hair is getting the nutrients it needs to grow.
- De-stress and get more sleep: and if you find a way to do this please write in the comments under this blog, I think every new mom is desperate for tips
- Reduce breakage by using gentle hair scrunchies or ties + by keeping hair moisturized with quality conditioners and hair products
5. Hair Loss Worsens With Each Pregnancy:
The experience you have with each pregnancy will vary and this is true of hair loss. A second or third pregnancy does not mean the hair loss will worsen.
That said, its possible if your pregnancies are very close together your hair was not given the time to regrow and in that case may look thinner following your next pregnancy.
While in actuality you are experiencing the same amount of hair loss after each birth, you likely began your pregnancy with less hair overall. This created the illusion of postpartum hair loss worsening with each pregnancy.
Another thing to consider is age. Our hair naturally becomes more fine and thin as we get older –its an unwelcome part of the aging process.
Over the course of having several children you likely find yourself in a cycle of postpartum hair loss and regrowth.. by the end of it you may find yourself with less hair overall simply because you yourself are getting older as well.
Not wanting to end this on a low, take these myths for what they are- myths- and know you can definitely do things to help lessen the postpartum hair loss period, and get your hair growing healthier and stronger faster.
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