Health / Pregnancy & Parenthood

Ashley Graham Shares Photos of Her Postpartum Hair Loss Journey

Ashley Graham Shares Photos of Her Postpartum Hair Loss Journey

Supermodel and mom of three Ashley Graham shared a series of photos of her postpartum hair loss on Instagram this week. In the caption, the 35-year-old joked, “I mean at least it’s growing #postpartumhairloss.”This isn’t the first time Graham has been open about the effects of pregnancy on her body. She’s been vocal about how being a mom has changed her since her first child was born in 2020. In January 2022, she gave birth to twins, and she’s documented her postpartum experience on Instagram throughout this year.In June, Graham shared a video of herself modeling underwear and wrote in the caption, “Posting this video for all the mamas who haven’t and may never ‘bounce back’ and for anyone who needs to be reminded that your body is beautiful in its realest form. This is my strong, five-month-postpartum-been-pregnant-for-two-years body. As it is. In hopes to further normalize ALL bodies in every and any stage of life.” Graham has also talked about relying on disposable underwear after giving birth the first time: In a February 2020 post, she shared a photo of herself wearing them with the caption, “Raise your hand if you didn’t know you’d be changing your own diapers too…No one talks about the recovery and healing (yes even the messy parts) new moms go through. I wanted to show you guys that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies!”Instagram contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.Now, Graham is keeping it real about yet another unexpected change that can happen to the body after giving birth. Postpartum hair loss is completely normal after having a baby, per the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). This happens as a result of falling estrogen levels. Unfortunately, it can be more intense than a few fallen strands here and there. Per the Cleveland Clinic, it’s not unusual to notice “handfuls” of hair coming out in the shower. It usually starts one to six months after giving birth, and it can last for 18 months, but it can come back sooner. Per the AAD, most people see their hair return to “normal” during their first year postpartum. The good news is, we’re not talking about permanent hair loss. It’s only temporary, which is why dermatologists actually refer to postpartum hair loss as “excessive hair shedding.” Furthermore, you don’t need to do anything to stimulate hair growth—it’ll come back on its own, per the AAD. 

When Postpartum Depression Shows Up as Intense Anger

When Postpartum Depression Shows Up as Intense Anger

“After delivery, there’s this incredible change in reproductive hormones,” Katherine L. Wisner, MD, the Norman and Helen Asher Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, tells SELF. “Hormones—such as estrogen and progesterone—go from the highest they’ll ever be down to almost nothing as soon as the placenta is delivered.” And some experts believe these rapid hormonal shifts are linked to the development of PPD in people who are biologically susceptible. Plus, recovering from a vaginal delivery or a C-section is hard and can be incredibly painful. Giving birth does not always go smoothly, and some estimates suggest one-third of people who give birth experience some form of trauma while delivering their baby, which may contribute to PPD or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While trauma can include things like enduring premature labor or feeling worried about a baby’s well-being, many people report that the people in the room—their care providers, including doctors, midwives, and nurses—are responsible for these distressing experiences, say, by dismissing the severity of a birthing parent’s pain, among many other scenarios.But one of the biggest changes that will affect your day-to-day functioning as a new parent is the ability to get enough sleep. Recovering postpartum with little to no sleep is a challenge that’s underestimated by society, Dr. Wisner says. And, as you might be able to guess, studies have shown a strong correlation between sleep deprivation and emotions like depression, anxiety, and anger.In a Canadian study of nearly 300 women, published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth in 2022, 31% of moms reported feeling intense anger, while more than half said their sleep quality was poor. The researchers concluded that a parent’s sleep quality, as well as feeling angry about their infant’s sleep quality, were two major predictors of postpartum anger. A range of disparities also contributes to the rage.For Black birthing parents, in particular, the stigma anger carries can be a huge barrier to seeking necessary mental health support. “Anger and rage are widely under-recognized. There’s a natural shying away of emotions in fear of being the stereotype of the ‘Angry Black Woman,’” Lauren Elliott, the CEO and founder of Candlelit Therapy, a perinatal mental health care service for underserved new and expectant parents, tells SELF. “Black maternal health is in extreme crisis.”There are a host of systemic issues that prevent Black people and other people of color from receiving proper mental health care. Birth parents of color experience higher-than-average rates of postpartum depression, and yet, they are less likely to be diagnosed, less likely to know that the symptoms they’re experiencing are related to PPD, and are therefore less likely to be properly treated, according to a report from the Center for American Progress.“Black women are less likely to be screened in pregnancy for depression and anxiety,” Elliott says. The consequences of these disparities can be devastating. As SELF previously reported, Black and Indigenous women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How to Stop Taking Your Anger Out on Loved Ones

How to Stop Taking Your Anger Out on Loved Ones

The good news, according to Dr. Bobby, is that situational rage is the least complicated type of misdirected anger to work on. “The first step is recognizing, I’m not myself right now; I’m going through something difficult that’s making me think and feel in angry ways,” she says. “Instead of following your feelings, it’s much more helpful to say to yourself, I’m not going to get tricked into believing this narrative is true.”Take this scenario: You’re healing from a surgery and the pain is making you irritable to the extent that it’s clouding the lens you view life through: A slightly messy home looks hopelessly squalid to you. Whether or not you’re partly to blame for said disarray, you’re now furious with your partner for “never” cleaning up. Dr. Bobby recommends asking yourself, “How are my emotions coloring this story?” before you accuse your partner of chronic disrespect, which will likely leave them hurt, confused, and/or defensive.In other words, rewriting your anger-provoking narrative may create some space between you and the hot feelings that seem to be whispering, “Slam the cabinet doors real loud and just go OFF!” in your ear.Examine the patterns you learned from your family.The behavior and beliefs you’ve learned from your family of origin can majorly inform how you handle most things, including anger. “When we’ve watched them either raging or bottling stuff up and then exploding, we unconsciously absorb that as how to be in the world—particularly in relationships,” Dr. Bobby says.This can be uniquely complicated for those raised within a non-Western family culture, Siddiqi says. “A lot of first-, second-, and third-generation children grew up in families where anger wasn’t really talked about because it was a collectivist culture,” she explains. “It was never about their individual needs, but about what’ll keep the family unit happy.”Ultimately, Siddiqi says, this can lead to “a lot of cognitive dissonance” and pent-up frustration that people never learned to express directly. “Some clients that I work with will be totally fine with their parents on the surface, but actually be really angry at them about something and then take it out on their partner,” she explains.Siddiqi works with clients from a variety of cultural backgrounds to help them unlearn family-modeled patterns of destructive behavior through reflection and devising new “scripts,” meaning clearer language that lets them express their true emotions. “You’d be surprised at how many times people tell me, ‘I want to express my anger, but I don’t even know what to say,’” she says. “A lot of people don’t have the emotional education to know the difference between healthy and defensive words, or that a ‘you’ statement versus an ‘I’ statement can have a really big impact on the other person.”For example, when you’re asking for that alone time after work, Siddiqi recommends saying something like, “When I come home, I need time by myself before I share about my day. I feel overwhelmed when you ask me a lot of questions at once. I’d like to talk in 15 minutes so I can decompress. Does that sound reasonable to you?”

13 RSV Symptoms in Babies All Caregivers Should Be Aware of Right Now

13 RSV Symptoms in Babies All Caregivers Should Be Aware of Right Now

Thanks to the pandemic, you’re probably a lot more aware of infectious diseases than you ever thought you would be. We wouldn’t be surprised if you can recite the symptoms of COVID-19 in your sleep and know all about the importance of getting your annual flu shot (especially this year). But there’s another virus that’s making headlines right now that many people aren’t as well-versed in. It’s called respiratory syncytial virus, better known as RSV, and cases are currently soaring in the US, particularly in babies and young children.According to surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RSV cases have been rising sharply since October. Public health experts are warning about the potential impact on kids, as the virus is overwhelming many hospitals and rapidly filling pediatric ICU beds. If you have kids—and an infant, in particular—here’s what you need to know about RSV symptoms in babies, plus when to seek medical care for a sick child.First, a little background on RSV.RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes coldlike symptoms, according to the CDC. In fact, doctors usually can’t tell just from your symptoms if you have RSV or another virus that causes the common cold, Danelle Fisher, MD, the chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF.Most people recover just fine (in about a week or two) when they’re sick with RSV. However, the symptoms can potentially become serious for infants and other young children, as well as older adults and those with severely weakened immune systems. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis, inflammation of the small airways in the lungs, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, in kids under the age of one in the US, per the CDC.“Because children less than two years of age have smaller lower airways, the inflammation, which results in mucus production, can occlude those small lower airways, leading to labored breathing and sometimes lower oxygen levels,” Rosemary Olivero, MD, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, tells SELF. Kids two and older have larger lower airways, though, and “tend to have less respiratory difficulty with RSV infections,” even if their lower airways do get inflamed, Dr. Olivero says.Back to topHow does RSV spread to babies?It’s important to get this out of the way: Almost all children get RSV at least once before they’re two years old, per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Infants usually get RSV from parents, other caregivers, or close family members, although they can also pick it up when they’re out in public too, John C. Brancato, MD, division head of emergency medicine at Connecticut Children’s, tells SELF.The virus spreads in a few ways, according to the CDC:When an infected person coughs or sneezes, which can circulate virus-laden droplets that then make contact with a child’s eyes, nose, or mouthWhen a person touches a surface that has the virus on it (like a doorknob or toy) and then touches a child’s face before washing their handsWhen a child has direct contact with the virus, like getting a hug or kiss from someone who is infected with RSV

How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

Overall, Dr. Santos says, it’s crucial to find a time when you can focus on your child to have this conversation—meaning, not when you could be distracted by a work call or when their soccer practice starts in five minutes—and to try to plan the conversation for a time when you think you’ll have the energy for it.Tell them the truth about what MS is and isn’t.“Honesty is the best policy,” Dr. Banwell says, which means getting your child’s biggest fear out of the way upfront: Tell them very clearly that you’re not dying. After that, be honest about what this diagnosis means for you and how your health and daily functioning may change. “You can say that you might have trouble with balance and issues walking in the future,” Dr. Banwell says. Or you can take a page from Benjamin and say that you might get messy while trying to eat spaghetti to try to make the experience relatable.For teenagers and older kids, “really sit down and talk to them about what MS is and isn’t,” Dr. Banwell suggests. That includes having an honest conversation about what a relapse is—a flare-up of symptoms—and what you’ve decided to do about treatment.If your child asks you a question, Dr. Banwell recommends that you’re open with your answer, even if it’s “I don’t know.” That may include some sensitive topics, like saying there’s a chance you may need a wheelchair in the future, if they ask. “You can say, ‘I’ll tell you what I’ve been told and what I know. We’ll learn together,’” Dr. Banwell says.Don’t feel like you need to tell them everything.Many adults prefer to learn as much as they can about a disease when they or a family member are faced with it, Dr. Banwell says. In her experience, children and teenagers often do not, she says, noting that many of her teenage patients say that they don’t necessarily want to know everything about their illness.“It’s important to say that this is a serious diagnosis and talk about what a relapse might be—relapses are what children will see in the coming years,” Dr. Banwell says. “But with respect to future neurodegenerative potential, it’s not necessarily the first thing you need to talk about.”And, again, don’t feel like you need to have all the answers. “It’s okay to say you don’t know the answer to something,” Dr. Santos says. “It’s better to say ‘I don’t know’ than to answer wrong.”Address what this might mean for them.It’s normal to wonder if you’ll develop a health condition that a family member has. Though the risk of developing MS is higher for siblings or children of a person with the condition than it is for the general population, it’s still fairly low. “If a parent has MS, the lifetime risk of their child developing MS is less than 5%,” Dr. Banwell says. “Meaning, there is over a 95% chance they won’t be affected.” She says that sometimes it’s helpful to phrase it in this more positive way instead: “I have this condition, but there is a 95% chance you’ll live without it.”Share your feelings about your diagnosis (if you want to).You’re probably feeling overwhelmed with the news of your diagnosis, and it’s okay to share that with your child—especially if they’re older or mature enough to process what that means. “You can say, ‘I’m scared, I’m upset,’” Dr. Banwell says. What you don’t necessarily need to do is say, “Here’s everything that can happen to me,” she says. That can be overwhelming. “Not all kids have the emotional bandwidth to handle that,” Dr. Banwell points out.

Jennifer Aniston Opens Up to Allure About IVF and Fertility Struggles

Jennifer Aniston Opens Up to Allure About IVF and Fertility Struggles

Jennifer Aniston tried to get pregnant for many years. “It was a challenging road for me, the baby-making road,” the actor told Allure in its December cover story. Aniston opened up about the challenges she faced while trying to have a baby, including intense media scrutiny and unsuccessful rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF). The rest of us don’t have to face the kind of painful speculation Aniston was up against, but the latter is a reality too many can relate to; the success rates for IVF are about 25% for people between the ages 38 and 40, and just under 13% for ages 41 and 42.“My late 30s, 40s, I’d gone through really hard shit, and if it wasn’t for going through that, I would’ve never become who I was meant to be,” Aniston said, adding, “I was trying to get pregnant.”Remember the many (many) years that Aniston was the subject of a tabloid “bump watch”? “I was going through IVF, drinking Chinese teas, you name it. I was throwing everything at it,” she said. “I would’ve given anything if someone had said to me, ‘Freeze your eggs. Do yourself a favor.’ You just don’t think it. So here I am today. The ship has sailed.”“I have zero regrets,” Aniston, now 53, said. “I actually feel a little relief now because there is no more, ‘Can I? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.’ I don’t have to think about that anymore.”But there was certainly pain in the past. The hurt of the “Does Jen Have a Baby Bump?” headlines was compounded by “the narrative that I was just selfish,” Aniston said. “I just cared about my career. And God forbid a woman is successful and doesn’t have a child. And the reason my husband left me, why we broke up and ended our marriage, was because I wouldn’t give him a kid. It was absolute lies. I don’t have anything to hide at this point.” Aniston’s five-year marriage to actor Brad Pitt ended in 2005; she was with Justin Theroux from 2011 to 2018 (they married in 2015).As writer Danielle Pergament wrote in the cover story, “We all felt entitled to the cellular happenings inside her uterus. We consumed those headlines, then dropped them in the trash and got back to our lives. But she couldn’t.”Aniston’s frustration led her to write an op-ed for The Huffington Post in 2016, criticizing the media for its fixation on her reproductive status and its treatment of women, generally: “I was like, ‘I’ve just got to write this because it’s so maddening and I’m not superhuman to the point where I can’t let it penetrate and hurt.’”Read the rest of the interview with Jennifer Aniston here.Related:

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