Pregnancy is an exciting time for most mothers, but for someone with trichotillomania there can be many added emotions and concerns to consider.
Many people with trichotillomania are on high alert much of the time, and pregnancy provides the perfect focus for anxiety.
There is evidence to suggest that, for some, hair pulling and/or eyelash pulling can stem from the urge to exhibit control over their lives and surroundings … If this is the case for you, pregnancy can be a daunting time if you feel you have little control over your body, or your future. As a pregnant woman myself I can totally emphasise with those feelings.
There is no better time than during pregnancy to overcome trichotillomania once and for all. Although pregnancy can bring added pressures and strains, it also provides excellent motivation!
The branch of psychology associated with children modelling and copying the behaviour of their care givers is known as Social learning Theory and was pioneered by Albert Bandura in the 1950s and 1960s. Bandura and his contemporaries found that children are much more likely to exhibit both positive and negative behaviours if they’ve witnessed them in adults they love and respect. From this perspective it is easy to see how great it would be for you to kick your trich habit into touch whilst pregnant to make it less likely your children will inherit pulling as learnt behaviour from you in the future.
Many Mummy Trichsters make a valiant effort to not pull in front of their children, but children are notoriously intuitive. Even when only pulling in private it can be hard to stop themes associated with trichotillomania such as self-punishment, body image problems and focusing on appearance, from affecting your children’s upbringing and outlook.
Trichotillomania is associated with increased cortisol production and the effects of excess cortisol on foetal development are well publicised. Too much cortisol can cross the placenta and has been linked to raised blood pressure in Mother and child (the effects on the baby can be permanent), other childhood problems associated with raised maternal cortisol include: hyperactivity, under activity, inattentive traits, and poor self-control. Lower IQ has even been cited as stemming from excess maternal stress!
We all know that by quitting smoking and cutting out or at least dramatically reducing our intake of Caffeine, alcohol and additives we are giving our babies the best start in life, well these principles are also associated with cutting down urges, so you may be killing two birds with one stone. Our findings on trichotillomania and Diet can be found here (Remember to discuss any dietary changes with your Doctor or Midwife)
Many lucky women develop thick shiny hair during pregnancy, so it can be a great kick start to regaining your mane, lashes etc. If you are one of the unlucky ones whose hair and nails lose the little vitality they usually have, then it’s important to try and hang on to what you’ve got!
Many commonly prescribed medications for Trich are not suitable for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, nor are the use of many aromatherapy oils or homeopathic remedies.
However relaxation techniques and Hypnotherapy are positively encouraged, Hypnotherapy is currently extremely popular with many believing that these relaxation techniques can shorten labour and decrease the need for pain relief and birth interventions. I am planning on using Natal Hypnotherapy Techniques and will be able to report back as to their effectiveness at the end of October (fingers crossed!). More information about hypnotherapy to stop hair pulling during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is also a fabulous time to concentrate on battling your urges as the tiredness and hormonal crash experienced after birth can be especially hard on those suffering from Tric; If you can get a nice long time Pull free under your ever-tightening belt then it will be easier to enter motherhood ‘pull free and the best you can be’.
Recommended reading Why Love Matters by Sue Gerhardt