Weight gain, breastfeeding troubles, backaches- I think as a new mom I was prepared for most things in terms of body changes back in those days. I wonder how I was totally unaware of the mandatory hair & skin woes that begin postpartum & end almost never !!!

The Surprising Ways Your Body Changes After Childbirth

When I became pregnant, I wasn’t ready for this: glossy, model-ready hair and glowing, pore-less skin.

Four months after I had my babies, it was a different story: I swear I saw a bald patch near my hairline from all the hair that was falling out, and my skin was back to its usual oily self, every pore proudly visible.

“No one told me this was going to happen!?”- It’s a sentiment that most mothers find themselves uttering over and over again to each other and, frankly, to anyone who will listen. That’s because — despite an ever-growing mountain of information about the myriad things that happen to your body during pregnancy — there is surprisingly little out there about what happens to you afterward. The realities of postpartum life are, to many, still a little too real for mainstream conversation.

And the symptoms women encounter post-baby aren’t just happening below the belt. You knew there might be stretch marks, but were you warned about what might happen to your face? That you might break out in cystic acne? Were you given a warning about receding hairlines? Probably not.

While a woman is pregnant, there is so much focus on her. But after she delivers, all that attention goes to the new baby.

No one’s saying that when there’s a newborn to keep alive, your splotchy weird skin should be at the top of the priority list. But the fact is it’s healthy for new moms to think about themselves, too. After all, every aspect makes an impact on a new mom’s mental health.

Hair, hair everywhere

Most pregnancy side effects are a drag, but your hair? Oh, that thick, full, healthy hair! Now that the baby’s out, though, it seems your lustrous locks are, too.

I could understand my body got bigger because there were 2 humans inside of it. My boobs got saggy because the milk had been coming in and out of them. Fine. But the hair is totally unrelated. It was really hard to understand what had gone wrong all of a sudden.

I remember it was almost 2 months postpartum when I felt the first big chunk falling off my scalp. And then slowly it was a bag full of hair strands every morning! Add to it the white floor in the entire house, which means I got to see EXACTLY how much hair I was losing every time I even frisked my fingers in the hair, let alone the dreaded head wash mornings! GOD.

While Postpartum shedding is a normal & expected process, as I learned later on, but the sad part is it comes at a time when women are already going through so much change!

During pregnancy, more of the hair stays in the growth phase. That’s nice while it lasts. But as estrogen levels fall after pregnancy, the hairs finally make their exit — all at once. This is the reason why women usually shed a lot of hair during those postpartum months. This increase in shedding is known as ‘telogen effluvium’ (in casual parlance also known as “clogged shower drains). It usually begins 1 to 6 months after childbirth and can last as long as 18 months (sob-sob).

Personally, the only thing that helped me sail through this journey was by getting back to basics-

1. No lapses in taking multivitamins and other medicines prescribed by the gynecologist.

2. Regular oiling of hair: Onion, amla, moringa, and curry leaves are known to have nourishing properties that give a boost to hair growth. I have never had the courage to invest so much time in getting all these ingredients every time, so mostly relied on All Natural Herbal Hair oil.

3. Keeping hair tied in a loose bun, instead of a tight hairstyle.

4. Drinking enough water: By drinking the water that your body needs, your skin, scalp, and body will function significantly better than they would without enough hydration. It helps energize and support hair growth from root to tip.

5. If your thinner hair is bugging you, try a new haircut or invest in a volumizing shampoo.

6. There’s more to the story than the hair on your head. During pregnancy, increased levels of androgen hormones can cause more hair to grow on the abdomen or face. That extra fuzz usually goes away by about 6 months postpartum. In the meantime, feel free to wax or shave if it bothers you.

As good as the anti-hair fall products are in terms of protecting one’s fragile hair & giving it a little bit of TLC, they won’t, obviously, stop the postpartum hair loss, which one just has to live with until the hair finally stop shedding. I mean, it doesn’t go on like this forever … trust me.
Shedding should return to pre-pregnancy rates by the time baby turns one. If it doesn’t, there is certainly no harm in seeing a dermatologist.

In the meantime, it can help to talk openly about your hair loss. With so much focus on the new baby, there is often little attention given to the concerns of the new mom. Talking with others, especially other mothers who experienced hair loss, can be helpful.
And look on the bright side: With a new baby demanding your time and attention, your hair was probably going to end up in a ponytail, anyway. Isn’t it?

The Skin Saga

We’re all aware of the so-called ‘pregnancy glow’ when your skin becomes radiant for the nine months you’re carrying a baby. But why does nobody talk about what happens afterward?

Just as there are hair issues that arise during pregnancy, skin conditions can also develop after you give birth. Dealing with a newborn, alongside tiredness and stress can really take its toll on your skin. The initial days postpartum are so overwhelming that you barely have time or energy to wash your face properly, let alone implement a multi-step skincare regime. But for many women, the period after giving birth can wreak havoc on their skin. Fortunately, they are largely treatable, so there is no need to fret.

Here are a few common postpartum skin conditions and ways to tackle the same.

1. Melasma

Also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” melasma (brown pigmentation) typically collects around the cheeks, forehead, eyes, and sometimes around the mouth. This is merely caused by high levels of pregnancy hormones in your body which decrease after you’ve given birth.

Though over time the brown patches become less obvious, but if you’re feeling self-conscious about pigmentation, try this-

  • stay out of the sun
  • wear a high SPF sunblock
  • Keep a hat or umbrella handy while outdoors as exposure to the sun’s rays will make patches darker.

While some of the hyperpigmentation fades away post-delivery, the discoloration never completely goes away.

2. Hormonal acne 

Skyrocketing progesterone and estrogen fluctuations lead to increased sebum production and clogged pores causing these unwanted guests on the face. While all this is a very natural reaction of our body with the aftermath of having a baby, but that doesn’t make it any less irritating.

Tackling acne doesn’t require too much time or effort though. The key is patience and just a few daily rituals-

  • use a gentle cleanser twice a day
  • try not to scrub or pick at any spots
  • Use a soft cloth/flannel or your fingers will suffice
  • Follow with a light moisturizer and an oil-free SPF

If after a couple of months there’s no sign of improvement and your acne is getting you down speak to your doctor who might be able to recommend a specific ointment.

3. Facial spider veins

Increased blood circulation and hormone levels highlight facial veins in a spider-like effect. These small reddish blood vessels branching out around the face (commonly around the nostrils and cheeks), neck, and upper body might look a bit unpleasant and disturbing to many. In most cases, these diminish within 4-6 months postpartum.

The simplest at-home treatment of this is the use of emollients like shea butter and olive or plant oils to keep skin soft.

4. Dry skin

Postpartum hormonal changes can sap skin of lipids during and immediately following pregnancy, leading to patchy dry skin on the face.

I know in the initial days with a newborn you might be dealing with your baby’s nappy rashes and not have time to deal with your own skin, but tackling dry patchy skin is relatively simple and should be easy to fit in your schedule.

  • Just keep your skin hydrated by using a mild cleanser and gentle moisturizer twice a day.
  • Starting your day with lukewarm water with lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar keeps the body clean and rejuvenated all day too.
  • While picking skincare products, read the ingredient label to make sure they’re fragrance-free and additive-free. For especially raw areas, use a hydrating lotion with natural lipids like shea butter or jojoba seed oil.

5. Loose skin 

Loose skin is a normal experience after delivery. During pregnancy, the skin stretches to accommodate a growing bump. As a result, many women find that the skin around their stomach is loose after giving birth. How quickly the skin returns to normal after delivery can depend on many factors, including one’s weight, age, and genetics.

Although loose skin is not harmful, it’s not something one would like to carry around too!

  • Exercise can help strengthen and tone abdominal muscles following pregnancy. Do check with your doctor before starting any physical exercise postpartum.
  • Nutrition- A balanced diet rich in vitamins, proteins, and fats will help build muscle and boost collagen, which is an essential protein for healthy, firm skin.
  • Drinking plenty of water may also improve the skin’s elasticity and appearance.
  • Skin-firming oils and creams improve the skin’s appearance by making it seem more plumped.
  • Regular body massage can help boost blood flow and stimulate fibroblasts. These cells play a role in the production of collagen and elastin, both of which help firm and tighten the skin. Therefore, simply rubbing oil or cream into the skin may have a positive effect on its appearance.

I hope these tips help you settle down postpartum while dealing with so many body changes. What is most important is to talk about your concerns and issues with someone instead of trying to deal with them all by yourself. A new mom’s emotional wellness is much more important than any other aspect. Remember this!

Go Mommy!

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