Dr Aman Dua's authored article appears in The Hindu
Wellness: Bliss with motherhoodPregnancy is a blissful period. Usually women have radiant skin and luscious hair during pregnancy if they are careful about their nutritional status. After delivery the hormonal withdrawal results in skin changes like pigmentation, acne breakouts, under-eye dark circles, sagginess of skin, stretch marks and hair loss. These added to the post delivery mood swings can be depressing for the mother as self esteem regarding her body is already lowered. Hair loss after delivery can happen due to many reasons. The main factor is hormonal withdrawal. Female hormones present during pregnancy are promoters of hair growth. After delivery the withdrawal of these hormones takes around four to six months. This withdrawal correlates with the time of teething of the child leading to the popular belief that teething leads to hair loss in mother. Other causative factors which contribute to hair loss in this period are excessive blood loss during delivery leading to iron deficiency, low calcium and vitamin D levels, poor nutrition, stress and lack of sleep. If one wants to avoid hair loss during postpartum period one has to be careful regarding nutrition during pregnancy. High protein and iron rich diet during pregnancy take care of hair loss. Also one should avoid crash dieting after delivery. Rapid weight loss leads to more hair loss. Watch intake of water and proteins like egg whites, soya, milk (at least two glasses a day and more if lactating), sprouts, paneer, curd, almonds (five to six soaked), walnut, figs and dal. Haldi or turmeric has hair growth properties and if taken before retiring to bed at night in hot milk promotes hair growth. Avoid chemical treatments like hair rebonding and streaking as hair is already in shedding phase and would break more. One should be cautious of the products used. Excessive oil massages are also not good as they lead to breakage of already weak hair. Overnight oiling should be avoided, rather application of warm oil like olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil 15-20 minutes before head bath can act as good moisturisers for hair. Excessive use of hot water for head bath is to be avoided. Use mild shampoos and conditioners. Stress along with lack of sleep can cause hair loss during post delivery period. One should try to get as much rest as possible and time sleep pattern as per baby. Also one needs to watch one’s serum haemoglobin along with vitamin d3. Skin also shows a lot of changes like acne breakouts due to hormonal changes and diet patterns. One must drink lots of water (at least 12-15 glasses per day) along with salads and fruits. Avoid fat rich and sugary diet. It will also promote skin lightening. The so called pregnancy mask or melasma on face can also improve with good diet. Avoid heavy sun exposure like sitting in sun in winters and use good quality sunscreen while moving out. Acne can improve with anti-acne face wash and use of oil free moisturisers. Use of cold water for face wash is recommended as hot water dries out skin leading to skin chapping. Avoid facials in acne. One can go for home made masks. Regular grooming of skin along with proper sleep restores one’s self confidence.