While the benefits for a new mom to breastfeed her new baby far outweigh any drawbacks, there are some things you may not be aware of as you begin breastfeeding.
The biggest reason for breastfeeding is that breast milk is nature’s food for your newborn. Breast milk provides your child with antibodies which build a healthy immune system to ward off illnesses and infections. Another big plus is that breastfeeding forms a strong bond between mother and child.
After giving birth, many new mothers notice hair loss or hair thinning. If you’re looking for natural and safe ways to promote hair growth while you breastfeed your newborn, read on.
Hair Loss / Hair Thinning
During the first few months of breastfeeding, as high levels of estrogen levels decrease after delivery, a lot of new mothers experience temporary loss or thinning hair. This temporary condition is known as postpartum alopecia.
Alopecia can occur anytime the body goes through a period of high stress or trauma, such as pregnancy, menopause or other illness. After the stress is eliminated and your body receives this message from the brain, the onset of alopecia can develop within a few months after delivery.
Normal Hair Growth Cycle
To break down what’s happening here is that during the normal hair growth cycle, your hair is either in a growing or resting state. After the hair is in a resting state for 2-3 months, the hair falls out. Hair follicles are prepared to replace the hair once it leaves the resting state and falls out.
Pregnancy Hair Growth Cycle
During pregnancy, the normal hair growth cycle changes. Hair remains in a growing state much longer during pregnancy due in part to higher estrogen and other pregnancy hormone levels. When the pregnancy is over, all that extra hair falls out.
Because so much hair falls out at once, the hair follicles are not prepared to replace the increased amount of shedding hair. This results in a noticeable thinning or loss of your hair.
Typically, you will notice an increase in hair loss right around 3-4 months after delivery. The good news is that at around the 6-month postpartum stage, hair begins to grow back to pre-pregnancy fullness.
Once the hair follicles catch up and can replace the lost hair, hair resumes natural and regular growth, and the situation corrects itself naturally.
Within a year, your hair should be back to normal.
Approximately 40% to 50% of new mothers experience a dramatic loss or thinning of hair within 3-4 months after delivery.
While it’s a normal experience and nothing to be alarmed about, it can make an already emotionally charged mom upset to notice thinning hair.
Another benefit of breastfeeding is that you may not experience large amounts of hair loss because your body continues to produce
While you may feel great about your decision to breastfeed given all of the benefits for both you and your baby, you might have concerns about your appearance and want to get back to your old self as soon as possible.
When you notice that you are losing a lot of hair or that it’s thinning out, you might want to turn this situation around in the most natural, healthy way possible.
Avoiding harsh chemicals, sprays, ingredients, dyes or anything else that could potentially harm your newborn is a top concern and priority.
Preserve, Restore and Re-Grow
Are there natural, healthy ways to restore your hair? Fortunately, the answer is yes.
Here are some natural and safe ways to stimulate regrowth of your hair while breastfeeding:
- Underlying Medical Conditions
- Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements
If you have a dry scalp, scaly skin, notice excessive dandruff, or flaking in addition to thinning hair, check with your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing hair loss or sores, bumps or other discomforts on your scalp.
Good scalp health is the baseline for re-growing and maintaining a healthy head of hair while breastfeeding.
The odds are that your doctor has already outlined a diet to maximize the health benefits of breastfeeding. In addition to eating natural and healthy foods on schedule, add foods high in protein to promote hair growth.
Consume more breastfeeding “superfoods” such as whole grains, beef, and salmon, which can give your hair follicles an extra boost for faster hair growth. This healthy diet benefits you while providing all the proper nutrition your baby needs for development and growth.
The skin, scalp and hair will all thrive from a good dose of daily vitamins, promoting a healthy environment for hair re-growth from the inside out. Hair-friendly vitamins include:
- B-complex vitamins such as Biotin (B7)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Other good hair supplements include fish oil and zinc. Remember that before starting any new vitamin regime, check with your doctor, especially while breastfeeding.
Keeping your body hydrated is an essential part of the breastfeeding experience but is also good for your overall health. On average, an adult woman should drink ½ to ¾ of an ounce of water per pound that you weigh when you are not nursing.
If water gets boring for you, reach for a flavored water that’s, chock full of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes. Not only will you stay hydrated, which is excellent for plumping the skin, it will also rid your body of toxins which may slow down blood circulation and in turn, slows down the hair regrowth process.
Don’t overlook the benefits of a great cup of herbal tea! Believe it or not, a couple of cups of tea can boost your levels of free radical fighting antioxidants. Raising antioxidant levels has been scientifically proven to promote healthy cells, which can help restore a luxurious head of hair.
Choose green or specialty teas with special hair-friendly ingredients such as rosemary or sage. You can also use hair-healthy tea as a rinsing agent.
This might be hard for some of you, but keep in mind that daily hair washing strips hair of the natural oils it produces to keep the scalp and hair follicles lubricated.
If you reduce washing your hair to every other day, the natural oils in your hair will help hair return to its natural state. A clarifying or plant-based shampoo works well to gently clean hair and scalp.
You can thicken and get the appearance of fuller hair by using a hair volumizing shampoo. However, for regular washing, vitamin-enriched suds will feed the hair and scalp, drenching them in gentle, hair-loving nutrients which will help hair regrowth.
Give yourself a special treat by using hair conditioners. Since the roots of your hair and scalp already produce some oil, use conditioner primarily on the ends of the hair shaft to keep it smooth and hydrated.
It’s also OK to use a leave-in conditioner sparingly if your hair tends to be dry and you are experiencing frizzy or flyaway hair. A deep conditioning hair masque made with natural ingredients used once a week can also help keep hair soft, smooth and in top condition.
Take a break from excessive blow drying or hot iron styling. Wear hair in a natural, loose style, refraining from pulling hair into a tight ponytail or bun. Avoid tight-fitting clips or anything that tugs, pulls or puts additional stress on the hair.
Avoid using products that can promote dry or brittle hair such as sprays, gels or hair dyes. Take some time to let hair breathe, relax and get a break from styling stress.
A scalp massage not only feels good and helps you relax; it also stimulates blood circulation and hair follicles. During the massage, use a lightly scented organic or natural product such as botanical or essential oils for a healthy massage.
There are a lot of essential oils to choose from and they all do a nice job in keeping the scalp healthy and hydrated. Choose from your favorite or try coconut or sweet almond oil.
Get into the habit of performing scalp exercises to encourage hair growth and scalp health. These exercises increase overall health of the scalp, making it stronger and flexible.
The biggest thing exercise does is to get the blood flowing, increasing blood circulation throughout the scalp. Increased blood circulation is beneficial to those hair follicles that are working hard to replace thinning hair.
You already know that when the body is under stress, or experience high levels of stress for extended periods of time, one of the consequences can be hair loss. It is important to learn how to effectively manage stress daily. Things you can do to combat stress include:
- Deep breathing / Relaxation techniques
- Walking / Fresh Air
- Exercising / Stretching
Repair Hair Loss…Activate Hair Growth
There are a lot of ways to keep your hair looking healthy and re-grow at a faster rate while breastfeeding. Try one or several of these suggestions to find a good fit for your preferences and lifestyle.
While the benefits you will enjoy from breastfeeding your baby can make you feel good, the benefits you will enjoy from taking advantage of natural and safe ways to promote hair growth while breastfeeding can make you look good, too.