After giving birth, when hormone levels return to normal, new moms often experience many physical and emotional changes. One of the most frustrating is hair loss. Just as you’ve gotten used to enjoying the thick, healthy hair you had during your pregnancy, it starts to fall out, sometimes in clumps! There’s no need to panic, though—It’s completely normal and temporary. Hair loss usually begins three to four months after the baby’s birth, but within a year, your hair should be back to its vibrant self.
Normally, most of the hair on your head is growing and the rest is in a resting stage. After the resting period, this hair falls out and is replaced by new growth. An average woman sheds about a hundred hairs a day. When pregnant, however, fewer follicles are in the resting stage, so she enjoys thicker, more lustrous hair. After giving birth, your estrogen levels fall, causing more hair follicles to enter the “resting” stage, so you may notice more hairs in the shower drain or hairbrush.
Before you reach for the scissors, though, there are plenty of ways to help promote healthy hair growth. As a new mother myself, I definitely plan to try them out!
Through birth and breastfeeding, women literally give energy to another life. They need to make sure that they get enough nutrients so they have plenty to pass on to their baby without draining their own supply.
Chinese medicine has been treating hair loss and post-partum hair care for hundreds of years with acupuncture and herbs. As Paul Pitchford explains in his book, Healing with Whole Foods, “In Chinese medicine, hair is said to be an extension of the blood and therefore influenced by the health of the spleen-pancreas and kidneys.” To help restore hair to its healthy state, you need to nourish the blood qi. After giving birth, mothers are encouraged to take blood tonifiers for overall benefits (not just hair loss).
There are two general approaches to enriching and building blood through nutrition. First, you want to increase absorption of nutrients and secondly, you also should add nutrients that generate healthy blood.
The nutrients most often needed to cure blood deficiencies include iron, folic acid, and vitamin B12. Getting enough protein is also important.
Legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds are all good sources of iron, especially when eaten in their raw forms, as protein, copper, and B vitamins needed to aid absorption are still intact. It is also helpful to combine these foods with vitamin C to further enhance absorption.
Folic acid can be found in micro-algae, sprouts, leafy greens and other chlorophyll-rich foods. However, you have to be careful not to lose those nutrients by overcooking, so it may be best to eat these foods raw or lightly steamed.
One of the most convenient ways to obtain adequate levels of B12 is to use bacteria-derived tablets. Grains, legumes, sprouts, green foods, and vegetables are also good food sources of this key nutrient.
In some cases, animal protein may be necessary, as it is a more direct source of these nutrients.
At Five Seasons Healing, I use acupuncture treatments and herbs such as sangshen, he shouwu, and heizhima. to help encourage absorption, by building spleen-pancreas qi and reducing any damp/mucus conditions.
Something else you might want to try is an armotherapy oil blend tested by Scottish dermatologists at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. In a clinical study, patients massaged their scalps for two minutes every evening with the a blend of thyme, lavender, rosemary, and cedarwood oil mixed with a carrier oil—a combination of jojoba and grapeseed oils. They wrapped a warm towel around their head afterwards to further enhance the absorption. Patients were advised to use this treatment every night. After seven months, forty-four percent of the patients using the aromatherapy blend had improvement, compared to fifteen percent in the control group.
To promote health hair growth, try this aromatherapy blend:
Cedarwood 2 drops
Thyme 2 drops
Lavender 3 drops
Rosemary 3 drops
Jojoba oil 1/2 teaspoon (carrier)
Grapeseed oil 4 teaspoons (carrier)
This is great to try if you’re suffering from post-partum hair loss or simply want to add some life to your locks! I’ll keep you posted on my results!