[UPDATE: added the link to what natural remedies I used for my scalp. See below.]
So as you might have deduced by now, Im an advocate of breastfeeding.That is, through whatever delivery system, your baby is nourished by breastmilk. I don’t slam formula at all, don’t get me wrong. Milk formula is a wonderful invention that has come to the rescue of many a fretting mama and hungry babe. But I fully support the breastfeeding awareness movement. *wave flag*
Yet, every time I catch my own reflection, I have a tremendous “sorry-for-myself” moment, and quietly think, “breastfeeding, you cruel wench!”, as I shake my white knuckled fist at the sky. A daily ritual that lasts for the entire duration of my breastfeeding months.
Breastfeeding is a wonderous, beautiful act of love. Its not only a means of providing superior nutrition to this precious little thingy who’s completely at the mercy of your choices, but also providing unrivalled protection against all those itty bitty bugs and nasties that are just waiting to infect that small person, and wreak havoc upon your home. Not to mention the bonding that happens thanks to the magical cocktail of hormones that it conjures up in both you and baby. And given the sometimes treacherous path that may precede breastfeeding success, it certainly is a selfless act. Although, the fact that it burns up to 500 calories a day, ain’t half bad a reason to keep at it. 😉 Just enough to appeal to the self-indulgent side of any mom, if need be.
I firmly thank breastfeeding for keeping my eldest daughter healthy and strong for the first two years of her life. While other mommies were struggling with flu’s and colds, winter through summer, the most I could complain about was the rare extended stay of some sniffles. And maybe that time when we had just two days of hard times when my nanny’s son’s foot n mouth bug made its way to our home. But even then her system kept itself together quite well. In fact, now as the onslaught of crèche viruses hits our home, ever since my eldest made her crèche debut, our littlest baby is quite happy ‘n healthy – all thanks to the antibodies produced in my milk.
Yes, breastfeeding. Beautiful, wonderful, magical breastfeeding. Hoo-frekking-rah.
So why then does my reflection invoke a cringe of horror from me, as I breathlessly utter “%&$# breastfeeding!”?
Am I talking about the notorious droopy dog affect upon my tatas?Nope. They’re fine. They’re certainly not the same. But fine.
Im talking about the lovely case of the crusties that have nicely made their home along my hairline, courtesy of the breasfeeding hormones.
“Say, what?”, I hear you say. Yip. Dry flaky patches front and center along my hairline. And oh, it truly is a sight to behold.. in the uncoolest kinda way.
Obviously, as my luck normally goes, its slap bang in front for all to see. No hiding it. I personally never did like the bandana look, so its not like that is even an option.
Looking at it, its easy to mistake it for typical “mommy filth” . You know, the kind that happens because at some point or other, with taking care of a itty bitty baby, and a busy tot, showering eventually becomes optional.
But no, its not. It’s the wonderful fat thank you I get for choosing to breastfeed my child. As if the shredded nipples and mastitis nightmare were not enough of a drag through hell. Here you go, here’s your badge of mommy honor: something real sexy, front ‘n centre for all ‘n sundry to behold.
I wish I could wear a sign that said, “I am not filthy. My hair is clean. Promise!”… or “I swear this isn’t dandruff,it’s caused by breastfeeding”.. or some other arb sign that could take care of the lengthy explanation that I currently enter into when I inevitably catch someones eyes landing on these hairline crop circles. Dry flaky crop circles – sounds charming, doesn’t it?
Don’t talk about when I’m in a full elevator. I swear my heart rate goes up a notch, as I try and hide my head…fruitlessly. Sometimes I try to just keep moving my head,in hopes that it somehow remains out of focus. (I dont think thats working though…I suspect all im doing is giving them a 360’ view of breastfeeding’s stamp on me.)
If only someone would ask, so I could explain, OUT LOUD, for all to hear. (Yes, Im THAT conscious about it.)And who wouldn’t be?
But mostly, all I could think about the first time I realised what it was, was “why didnt anyone tell me?”. Surely someone out there must’ve had it too? And what did they do to “cure” it? Yet, as I vulnerably shared my woes with the many moms I knew, none of them could relate. Surely I couldn’t have been the only one?
So to the internet I went, and tapped into the international mommy-community. And suddenly SO many mothers were typing up what could have been my exact own words. Whilst there were only but a handful of these ladies that I found, I at least uncovered other women who could identify with my frustrations. I read their horror stories: One lady had chunks of scalp coming off if she tried to scratch it. Another, had her whole head in dry and flaky state. Slowly, I started to feel very lucky, and even a slight bit consoled. Firstly, because I did not have it as bad as some women out there, and secondly, I felt like less of a freak. Im not the only one.
Eventually it boiled down to my hormone levels. of course. The culprit behind most of our postpartum adventures. You see, if you didnt know, once you give birth, and your prolactin levels have reached a certain point, your oestrogen levels do a bit of a bungee jump. Only to bounce back up once weaning has started, or nursing becomes more infrequent.
If you’re a a bit of a nerd burger like me, and you’re interested in the lovely dance that hormones do wrt breastfeeding, have a look here ,here, and if you’re still interested, then here.(refer to the hormone influences section)
But obviously, for each woman, the levels of hormones are different. And unfortunately, my levels equated to my scalp becoming quite dry. Thats why about 3 weeks after I stopped breastfeding my eldest, my scalp returned to normal again, as my hormone levels adjusted.
Please note, I am not saying this will happen to you if you breastfeed. I am certainly not the norm. So understand there’s only a very very tiny chance you would even have anything remotely like me. But if you do, at least now you know the possible cause.
The thing is, as I’ve discovered – because Ive been so “lucky” to have had the weirdest crap happen to me along my postpartum journey- is that, as clued-up as some the best medical professionals may be, they unfortunately cannot know every possible affect that a specific woman’s hormone levels may have on her body.
Medical science and thus, obstetric and gynaecological professionals’ knowledge is based on the average woman, with their rare knowledge of experience from that one patient that was the exception to the rule. It is therefore up to us mommies to rally together, and to share our information with each other. With those who may be as dumbfounded by the strange crap that’s happening to them, as we once may have been.
I mean, we all hear of baby blues, PPD, and that your moods may feel like your mind is going through some tectonic plate shifting. You know, the “big stuff”. You cant pick up a baby mag without reading about it. But how many of you knew that your scalp may develop into a head and shoulders shampoo ad? Or that the skin on your breasts may develop dry patches that it may itch so much so that you would scratch the skin broken, and even get some funky discolouration (I shit you not, I read that lady’s post, and was mortified for her part). Or, how many of you knew that your nipples may develop a slight “crust” as part of the weaning process?
Im guessing, very few of you. And if so, those titbits of personal information were very possibly kept to yourself? And understandably so, as they are just that, “personal”. And often a little embarrassing.
But the path of motherhood is so often fraught with such situations, that I can tell you, most moms, especially those that have endured such situations, are not going to think you’re gross or that you’re a freak.Mostly likely they will caringly lend a sympathetic ear, and happily suggest what worked for them, without batting an eyelid.
Im no doctor, and I always recommend getting a respected medical opinion, however, nine times out of ten, HORMONES are always the reason behind your weird and mysterious postpartum symptoms. And there’s very little one can often do about that. Except, in the case of breastfeeding, STOP breastfeeding.
I realised that these charming crop circles of mine would be around as long as I breastfed. As long as those hormones were swimming around in my body, that’s what I had to deal with. I chose the superior nourishment of my baby over the my vanity. And I do not regret it one bit.
Sure, I was (and now once more) self conscious for a long time, and yes, it was totally uncool having snowflakes. But how many times in your life, will you be called upon to fullfil such a sacred task? By God’s grace I have been blessed with two beautiful girls. So the times of challenge wrt breastfeeding hormones are truly but a fraction of my life. And these are fractions of time I will never, ever get another chance to do again. Yet they will have lasting effects on both baby and me. So in the end, I would like to feel satisfied with myself for doing my personal best, once those times have passed.
But, I gotta say, it sure helped to have some mommy tips and tricks along the way to get one through the tough times, and find solutions to the myriad of questions that one often has.
Any weird symptoms you experienced because of breastfeeding or postpartum hormones? Or better yet, any tips or tricks you have found? Please feel free to share, and help each other. I’d feel honoured if you shared, as you never know if you may help someone else out there today.
ps. If you’re keen to see what I used/use to treat my scalp,see this post here.