Even the women who love their pregnancies will admit that it is taxing on the body. There are so many changes that start happening in order to grow a baby and support their development. Many women start taking prenatal vitamins, even before conceiving, in order to prepare their bodies with the right nutrients and build up vitamin stores. Some women choose to get blood work done to ensure there are no vitamin deficiencies heading into pregnancy.
However, there are also many decisions to make when it comes to supporting the woman’s overall health and wellness after giving birth. There are great postnatal vitamins that increase milk production and support the woman’s body. When it comes to growing strong hair and nails after pregnancy, it’s something that many women struggle with.
Pregnancy can increase a woman’s hormone production causing their hair and nails to grow faster, thicker, and stronger. When that is paired with increased blood flow, various vitamins, and a healthy diet, many women find themselves loving their pregnancy hair and nails and missing them once postpartum hits.
Postpartum Hair Loss
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, many new moms experience a decent amount of hair loss a few months after having their baby. The term “postpartum hair loss” might sound familiar because it is such a common occurrence. While this is usually unappealing for many postpartum moms, it is normal. The hair loss is actually more of a “hair shedding” and is due to falling estrogen levels.
Most women will see their hair return within a year, if not earlier, without any changes being made. However, it is understandably really bothersome for many women to see their hair shedding and to feel like they can’t do anything about it. Luckily, there are some tips that dermatologists give new mothers in order to help their hair return to its natural fullness.
Avoid heavy conditioners
Heavy conditioners have a tendency to weigh down the hair and can make it look limp. Especially if you don’t have naturally full or voluminous hair, lighter products that will keep your hair looking full and bouncy are the way to go. Another great tip is to only condition the ends of your hair. This will help with detangling and split ends, but won’t weigh down your roots or make them look flat.
Try a volumizing shampoo
Shampoos that are specifically designed for volume usually contain beneficial ingredients like proteins that coat the hair. These volumizing shampoos produce lift, and create fullness by boosting your hair from the roots and giving it body.
Purchase products for fine hair
Products for fine hair tend to be far gentler and are naturally designed to not weigh your hair down. Whether you had thick hair before pregnancy or not, postpartum life might be the time to put a little more TLC into your hair care routine. Investing in gentle products that are designed for thin hair might be just what you need to support that regrowth.
Postpartum Nail Breakage
During pregnancy, some women might notice that their nails tend to grow faster, become thicker, and get stronger. This is due to the normal surge in hormones but, like hair, is a temporary change. Other women may notice more negative changes during pregnancy, where their nails become brittle and even break.
According to What To Expect, if this is the case, there are some tips to implement even before those postpartum days in order to care for your nails.
Don’t bite your nails
Nail-biting is known as a bad habit for a reason. It damages the skin around the nail and increases the risk of infection because germs from your fingers are spreading to your mouth. Biting nails is also harmful to teeth, so it’s best to use a nail clipper. When it comes to cuticles, try to avoid cutting them. Instead of cutting cuticles, gently pushing them back will help to keep nails strong and healthy. It also reduces the risk of infection while providing a clean manicured look.
Keep your nails clean and dry
When nails are in the water for too long, they become soft. Soft nails are far less durable and break more easily. Think about a time you went swimming in a pool or took a long bath. Most likely, your nails were noticeably softer and more bendable. Simply keeping nails dry will keep them stronger.
Shorter nails are safer for now
During pregnancy, but especially in those early postpartum days, long nails can feel like a huge burden. They get caught on random things more easily, which can cause painful breakage, especially if the nails were fragile already. Plus, shorter nails will make those early postpartum days much more enjoyable when it comes to the daily routine of diaper changes and baby cuddles.
Add Vitamins To Your Diet
Vitamins are good and healthy for the average person, but certain vitamins are known to help hair, skin, and nails. Postpartum mamas out there should consider modifying their diet to include key nutrients for their hair and nails if those are things they want to strengthen. Unfortunately, new moms in the midst of busy postpartum life may struggle to prioritize extremely healthy and well-balanced meals.
Therefore, it might also be a good idea to consider taking supplements. According to Cel, Iron is a very important mineral that works to support healthy hair, skin, and nails. After giving birth, iron stores usually deplete. If postpartum moms aren’t getting adequate sources of iron from foods:
- organ meats like liver
- dark leafy greens such as spinach
- supplementation may be something to consider
Cel also discusses the importance of vitamin C as another vitamin that supports the integrity of nails, even preventing such things as hangnails. Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges are high in vitamin C, as well as strawberries, kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and many more foods.
Vitamin C also helps maintain the integrity of our nails by supporting the strengthening of (via collagen) connective tissue, bones, walls of blood vessels, and skin.
Drink Your Water
Water has been said to improve hair, skin, and nails for years. While it may have been something you took with a grain of salt, there is definitely some validity to it. According to She Finds, dehydration impacts all parts of the body, including hair growth. The cells responsible for hair growth need adequate amounts of H2O in order to function properly and reproduce.
There’s also an increased need for water while nursing and an increased risk of dehydration for new moms due to the loss of fluids through breastfeeding. New moms need to carefully monitor their water intake to ensure they are drinking enough and staying hydrated. If they are not, this could result in dry or brittle hair that grows at a much slower rate.
At the end of the day, it’s important to acknowledge that pregnancy changes a woman’s body. Trying to remain calm during those early postpartum days can sound impossible. However, remembering that hair loss or brittle nails are not only very normal after giving birth, but also temporary is helpful. While it may feel like insecurity at the moment, watching your baby grow is a great reminder of what’s important. It may take time to feel like yourself again, but patience is imperative during this transition.
Sources: Women’s Health, American Academy of Dermatology, What To Expect, Mayo Clinic, Cel, She Finds