Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Hair Loss: Postpartum and Otherwise

I feel like my photography skills are getting better, I am increasingly happy with the photos accompanying my posts, but this one is another story. Shampoo was not easy to make look nice!

People always say that your body will never be the same after growing a tiny human and giving birth to them. There are things you expect to happen. You are warned to look out for signs of mental health changes and to make sure you are doing your pelvic floor exercises.

But no one mentions the likelihood of postpartum hair loss.

Considering I completed 2 years of Midwifery training I only knew of the possibility of postpartum hair loss as someone I knew mention it to me in conversation before I even knew I was pregnant. Not once did it come up in lectures or did a health professional warn me once I had given birth.

Postpartum hair loss is actually quite common but its cause is not known for certain. When you are pregnant your hair grows, a lot. For the first time in my life, I had thick, healthy looking hair. You cycle of hair shedding can all but stop due to changes in hormone levels, unfortunately, the effects are not here to stay.

Some believe that following labour you loose all the extra hair you retain whilst pregnant, hence the feeling of dramatic loss. Another theory and the one I believe to be more accurate is that it is your bodies way of dealing with the trauma of childbirth, changes to your life and body and the rebalance of hormones.

See, I am not entirely new to this hair loss game. Nearly 3 years ago I went through a spell of Alopecia Acreta. For those that don’t know, Alopecia Acreta is an autoimmune disease that causes spot baldness. Your immune system attacks your totally innocent hair follicles causing patches of complete baldness and the chances of it growing back are unpredictable, you have to just wait and see. Again, the cause of hair loss in most of its forms is largely unknown but it can commonly happen following stressful periods of your life. Mine occurred when my younger brother was extremely ill. I lost around a quarter of my hair in one large patch. Just gone, completely bald, squeaky scalp and all.

I was lucky, the loss occurred in the middle of my head meaning that as long as my hair was down or styled low on my head it wasn’t too noticeable. My hair grew back, and after 2 years of strategic hair styling my hair was all one length and thanks to my unknown pregnancy, healthier than ever, until now.

3 months, almost to the day, after having Esmée my hair began to fall out and now a month later I am still loosing handfuls in the bath. My carpet needs hovering every other day and my baby always has a handful of mummy’s hair. The major difference between postpartum hair loss and my Alopecia is placement, this time it’s not so easy to hide as all my loss is from my hairline. I look like a receding 40-year-old man!

Another difference, this time I don’t care!

I am trying not to get too bothered as I know from experience that stress does nothing but spur on something like this, and looking after a 4-month-old is stressful enough at times without worrying about my impending baldness.

I do feel like I am loosing less hair with every bath but the truth is there isn’t much you can do to stop it. No products will stop it falling out completely as your hair follicles are completely healthy, it’s just that your body doesn’t agree. All you can do is look after you scalp and hair best you can.

I am currently using L’oreal Elvive Phytoclear Anti-Dandruff Soothing Shampoo to combat the severe dry scalp that has accompanied my wonderful locks right now and it is helping a lot with making my scalp and roots look healthier and feel more comfortable, with hair loss comes a very itchy scalp most of the time.

For conditioner, I am using L’oreal Elvive Triple Resist Conditioner as it is designed for hair that has a tendency to fall. Now as I said, no hair products can stop your hair from falling out if your body has already decided it doesn’t want it anymore but this is doing a great job of helping my hair feel fuller and more manageable.

The best tip I had from my hairdresser when I had Alopecia was to change the hair tools I was using. I have always used a Tangle Teezer when my hair is wet as it doesn’t like being brushed when it isn’t dry but for styling and brushing my hair normally I use a Denman Porcupine Style Grooming Brush. These combine natural bristles with nylon which stimulates your hair follicles whilst conditioning your hair. Starting to use this first time round was when I saw a dramatic improvement in the regrowth of my hair. May have been a coincidence but this brush is now my number 1 hair essential.

Hair loss is something that isn’t discussed much at all. I have felt in the past that I needed to hide what was going on with my hair and style it in ways to make it less noticeable, but why? I think it is actually something that should be spoken about more. More people than we realise suffer from hair loss, be it following the birth of a child, a traumatic event in their life or for no plausible reason at all. You shouldn’t have to worry that people might stare or what they might think. And honestly, the best thing you can do to resolve it is to relax.

Have you ever suffered from hair loss or know anyone that has?

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