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Scientifically known as postpartum telogen effluvium, it is a common concern experienced by many new mothers due to hormonal changes during and after pregnancy.The Pioneer’s SHIKHA DUGGAL speaks to experts and brings a detailed story on how to deal with hair loss post-delivery.
When television actress Debina Bonnerjee shared a snippet of her postpartum journey, the reverse effect after the delivery caught everyone’s attention. In medical terminology, hair loss that occurs after delivery is called pregnancy alopecia. But excessive shedding doesn’t usually happen right after delivery! Instead, it begins a few months after delivery, often peaking around four months postpartum.
To confirm this, Dr. Shailendra Chaubey, an ayurvedic practitioner, verified, “As miraculous as the human body is, it undergoes numerous changes during pregnancy. Motherhood is an extraordinary journey filled with joy, love, and immeasurable happiness. However, amidst the joys and wonders of this transformative phase, women face some unexpected challenges. One challenge that often surprises new mothers is post-pregnancy hair loss. There is a likelihood that a new mother sheds about 400 hair strands in a day, whereas an individual sheds about 80–100 hair strands a day.”
Scientifically known as postpartum telogen effluvium, it is a common concern experienced by many new mothers due to hormonal changes during and after pregnancy. At the onset of pregnancy, persistent soaring of oestrogen and progesterone levels causes hair to remain in an ongoing stage of growth, creating thicker, more lustrous strands. However, in the months following childbirth, estrogen levels fall, causing your beautiful, thick head of pregnancy hair to begin the shedding phase.
The spiritual healer continued, “While it can be distressing, it is important to remember that postpartum is totally normal and usually temporary. Also, it can be effectively managed through ayurvedic solutions. Often, hair oils and serums crafted with ayurvedic ingredients are underestimated by us. Curatives through organic materials undoubtedly resolve the hair condition with a rare occurrence of side effects. So, regularly massage your scalp with ayurvedic oils such as bhringraj, brahmi, or amla oil. Or, ayurvedic supplements like ashwagandha, shatavari, or triphala can help with hormone-related hair fall and promote holistic care. Considering the impact of hormone levels on hair health, it is crucial to engage in supplements to fight hormonal fluctuation.”
It is advisable to opt for mild, herbal shampoos and conditioners that are free from sulfates and parabens for continual hair growth and conditioning. Avoid using chemical-based hair products without learning about the harsh ingredients in the products! Besides, the consultant at TRAYA endorsed, “Herbal hair masks deeply nourish the scalp and hair, thereby treating the deficiencies.
One of the trendy formulas is to add herbs to your mask material. These herbs provide essential nutrients, strengthen the hair shaft, and reduce hair fall. Do not forget that postpartum hair fall is a temporary condition that can be effectively managed by adopting a nourishing diet, managing stress levels, and exploring the above-mentioned ayurvedic solutions.”
It looks like this condition is often self-limiting and associated with nutritional deficiencies of vitamins A, E, C, B, zinc, and selenium during the post-pregnancy phase. Dr. Sweta Suvarna, women’s specialist at ASTER CMI Hospital, explained, “According to ayurveda, postpartum hair loss is caused when vata and pitta doshas increase in the body, which is common post-delivery. Sootika Paricharya offers new mothers a specialized protocol to help them recover quickly from the stress and strain of childbearing.
These customised guidelines are specified for six months and take care of nutritional balance, stress management, and balancing estrogen levels. Classical ayurveda interventions, including abhyanga, shiro abhyanga, a balanced ayurveda diet, and special medicated ghee, help correct aggravated vata and pitta doshas, leading to prevention of hair loss as well as restoration. Practicing yoga also helps improve stress levels caused by sleep deprivation. It is important to consult a specialist doctor in ayurveda, Stree Roga and Prasuti Tantra, to benefit from a personalised prescription of diet, lifestyle, herbal medicines, and therapies, including do-it-yourself therapies.”
During motherhood’s joys and challenges, Rajeshwari, an assistant professor and mother of two boys, faced an ordeal: postpartum hair loss! Oh, the beauty of a woman’s hair turned into her worst nightmare. As she went through the transformation of carrying a baby and giving birth, she also went through postpartum depression. She illuminated, “In the year 2020, amidst the lockdown, my hair started saying goodbye to me. I didn’t even realize it was happening until five months after my baby’s birth, and it was a lot of frustration.
I couldn’t bear the thought of facing my students with thinning hair, but luckily, online teaching came to my rescue. Yet, the question remained unanswered that was spinning in the back of my head: why was this happening to me? I never bothered to Google it because I literally didn’t have time to do the same, rather relying on vague explanations from others. It started from the left side and right side of my head, and the middle remained the same, resulting in a new look.” She battled with countless bobby pins and headbands. People speculated about nutrition and baby gazing, but she couldn’t find a definitive reason. The struggle continued, and she faced each day with a mix of despair and determination, unwilling to give in to this unexpected hair drama.
Through it all, I learned to adapt and embrace new hairstyles. It was my younger sister who used to come up with a new hairstyle for my leftover hair and secure it with a lot of bobby pins. And so, my hair journey goes on, with hope in my heart and bobby pins in my hair. Eventually, my hair started growing. As I adapted to the changes, my hair journey continued with the birth of my second baby in the year 2022. I was anxious that the same nightmare of hair loss would repeat, but to my surprise, it didn’t happen this time. During pregnancy and after giving birth, my hair grew beautifully, eliminating the need for bobby pins or headbands to manage it. It’s been a roller coaster memory, filled with challenges, as I navigate this ever-changing hair journey with strength.”
Hair loss can be triggered by anything that involves a change in the estrogen hormone balance in your system. Discontinuation of birth control pills or any other hormonal type of birth control method, miscarriage or stillbirth, abortion, or a hormonal imbalance Dr. Sunil Kumar, senior dermatologist at Aster RV Hospital, shared, “Avoid pigtails, cornrows, hair weaves, braids, and tight hair rollers, which can pull and stress your hair.
Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, which contain flavonoids and antioxidants that may provide protection for the hair follicles and encourage hair growth. Use shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica. Hair is fragile when it is wet, so be gentle and avoid fine-tooth combs. If you need to use blow dryers and other heated hair instruments, use the cool setting.”
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