During my pregnancy I did very little with my hair. I mainly wore buns and occasionally con-washed. I rarely went to the beauty salon, and relaxed a total of two times–early in the second trimester and then right before I was due (gotta look cute in the hospital! *smile*) I pretty much halted my entire hair regimen. I ceased all vitamins (except prenatals), didn't use Boundless Tresses/MTG, didn't Henna, no deep conditioning, and so on and so forth. This was primarily because much of that wasn't safe during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Truthfully, it was kind of nice being lazy and doing nothing to my hair.
Despite this gross neglect, my hair thrived and looked amazing throughout my pregnancy! I had cut it back to Armpit Length just after my second trimester, so it was blunt cut and full. It was extremely thick, lustrous, and felt so silky to the touch. My new growth seemed to be softer and coming in with a looser curl pattern. Overall, my hair never looked better! As you probably know, when we're pregnant our body undergoes significant hormonal changes, including an increase in estrogen production. This affects our natural hair growth cycle, causing some hair follicles to shift into the anagen (growth) phase of the cycle so an above average number of follicles are producing hair. The increased estrogen will also inhibit some follicles that are in the catagen (shedding) phase so less hair is lost during this time. Due to these changes to the hair growth cycle many pregnant women will experience a boost in hair thickness, hair volume, and hair length.
Of course, after you've delivered your baby and the placenta that nourished baby is also delivered your body experiences a dramatic drop in estrogen levels. At this point our hair follicles now enter the shedding phase. (Shedding = hairs coming out from the root. Breakage = small pieces that break off at the ends). Other follicles will be affected during this time and enter the telogen (resting) phase. Since no new hair growth is being produced but hair shedding is increased dramatically, we sometimes experience hair loss. Of course, once the body readjusts itself to its pre-pregnancy levels of function the hair growth cycle should also return to normal.
With that said, I was already expecting these changes to occur in my hair post-partum. No surprise when my hair looked great during pregnancy, and also no surprise to discover hair loss post-partum. Being the hairnista that I am, I actually started a post-partum regimen immediately after delivery with the expectation that some shedding might occur. The main product I decided to introduce to my (at this time) very simple regimen was garlic. Yes, I said garlic! Garlic is a pretty common and effective way to help minimize shedding. You can take garlic supplements or use garlic-based products (i.e., Queen Helene's Garlic shampoo, Alter Ego nourishing garlic conditioner). Of course, if you're a DIY'er like me, you can make your own garlic conditioner simply by blending several cloves of garlic in your conditioner of choice. You can also make a hot oil treatment by infusing garlic into your oil of choice (i.e., olive oil or, in my case, Aceite De Ajo by Alopecil–since I use Dominican products almost exclusively).
Post-Partum Hair Pics
Front/Edges of Hair
As I mentioned, I discovered a couple of months after my baby was born that the front of my hair and temples had thinned significantly. I really don't know when or how it happened–but one day I realized that my hairline had receded noticeably. It's quite apparent when I have my hair pulled back into a ponytail, but otherwise not so obvious. Either way, it's important to me that I curb this shedding and get those edges to fill in. I'm so glad I started this garlic regimen early, as I suspect the problem may have been even worse had I been doing nothing at all. I have a few pictures so you can see the post-partum shedding and present state of my hair.
I always had slight indentions on either side, but never so far back or pronounced.
Back of Hair
No real complaints here. In an effort to really start anew and take back control of my hair, I opted for a fresh trim last weekend…. first one in about 9 months. I needed it! My last cut was during my second trimester. At that time there was no real reason for the trim–an impulse decision, if you will. I blame it on the hormones. *smile* It grew back fairly quickly. This time I told the stylist not to worry about giving me a blunt cut, but just to take off the split ends (because you know how they do… my hair would have been a chin length bob!)
Front of my hair is quite shorter, which lends for a V or U-shape in the back (depending on the trim).
More photos in my Hair Journal. Leave me a comment requesting the link if interested.
These days I'm still doing very little… bunning most days for work, con-washing every other weekend, essentially just minimizing manipulation. I don't get to the salon as much as I'd like, with the baby and all…. but try to keep my ends moisturized and dust occasionally for splits. I'm eager to start my Biotin again…. and that's likely all that I'll add. Right now my goal is to curb this post-partum shedding (my edges/temples) and, if possible, retain the wonderful thickness I got during pregnancy. I'll continue to add more products to my regimen as necessary, but for now here are just a few of my "must haves."
Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut Conditioner (con-wash/detangle/moisturize)
Aceite De Ajo by Alopecil – Garlic Oil Capilar (oil scalp/seal ends)
Biotin (5 mg daily)
Ladies, did any of you experience post-partum shedding? How long did it last, and what did you do (if anything) to curb it?
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