WHEN Tanya Hughes went into labour with her third child, the pain of giving birth was far from her biggest fear.
The father of her baby, Algirdas Butkus, 30, had no idea his partner, from Gwynedd, north-west Wales, was bald – and covered her head with five different sets of extensions.
The mum had been with Algirdas for two years but felt too ashamed to tell him her hair had fallen out – even after falling pregnant with eight-month-old Lorena.
Tanya, 31, told Fabulous Digital: “As he held my hand through each contraction all I could think of my hair extensions moving and him discovering I was bald.
“I spent the entire seven-hour labour hoping my extensions would hold out.
“I needed five sets of hair extensions which I kept in permanently to cover my bald patches. I knew it was mad but I just couldn't face telling him.
“I just kept putting it off and here I was giving birth to his baby and he still didn't know.
“It was crazy and looking back and it really spoilt the moment of giving birth because I had been so distracted.”
Tanya has two kids from a previous relationship, Elisha Redman, 12, and Conner, 10.
A few months after Conner was born, she noticed her thick, long hair had become dramatically thinner.
She was used to getting loads of compliments on her luscious locks, but soon saw a bald patch the size of a 10p piece appear on her hair.
I spent the entire seven-hour labour hoping my extensions would hold out. I knew it was mad but I just couldn't face telling him
Tanya said: “My hair was like my crowning glory. I loved playing around with it and putting it up in messy buns, braiding it or making a tumble of bouncy curls.
“When I found a small bald patch on my scalp it frightened me as I thought I might have some awful illness.
“I wondered, too, if my hair thinning might be hormonal after giving birth but it just got thinner and thinner.”
Tanya was referred to a dermatologist and told she was suffering from alopecia areata.
She was prescribed lotions and given steroid injections in her scalp to stimulate hair growth.
Tanya said: “My beautiful long hair just kept falling out and nothing would stop it.
“I found it all over the carpet, in the shower – it would block the plughole too. Nothing seemed to help make it grow back.
“It was pretty distressing. I lost my eyelashes on my right eye too.
“Sometimes my hair would grow back over my bald patches and then it would fall out again. It really began to affect my confidence.”
Tanya spent hundreds of pounds on hair extensions, coloured root sprays and topic fibres to cover up her bald patches. She even spent £350 on a human hair wig.
I was like a moulting dog. I wondered if anyone would find me beautiful again
When she got divorced in 2013, following six years of marriage, the stress made me alopecia even worse.
She said: “I was like a moulting dog. I wondered if anyone would find me beautiful again.
“But then I met Algirdas. I made sure whenever we were together my hair extensions were in place.
“I even used to sleep with them in and I'd get up in the middle of the night to apply eye liner so he'd wake up and see me the same as when I went to bed.”
Tanya would only wash her hair when Algirdas was in the gym, because she knew she could take her time, removing her hair extensions and relaxing fully.
“It was absolutely ridiculous,” she said. “The longer it went on the harder it was to tell him.”
Alopecia: the facts
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks hair follicles, leading to hair loss.
It starts as patchy hair loss, but can continue until all your hair has fallen out.
The hair loss is not permanent, but most people with alopecia will never see full re-growth.
There's currently no cure for alopecia – which will affect around 2% of the population at some point in their lifetime.
What about postpartum hair loss?
Postpartum hair loss is a normal, and temporary, postpartum change.
Most women will see their hair grow back around 6 to 12 months after giving birth.
Many women see their hair grow thicker during pregnancy, before starting to shed around 3 months after giving birth.
The level of hair loss varies from woman to woman, but it's completely unrelated to breastfeeding, which is a common myth.
Even after having a child together, Tanya struggled with the truth, explaining: “We were so close and it was such an intimate time but still I couldn't tell him.”
For support, Tanya joined online forums – where she opened up to strangers about her struggle to tell her situation.
She said: “People on the forums knew what I was going through. They reassured me and told me to tell Algirdas.”
Tanya took their advice and finally told Algirdas the truth.
She said: “He didn't put any pressure on me at all to show him and I was so grateful.
“He told me he'd buy me a 'hair-topper' wig and he suggested I shave it off.
“He mentioned famous pop stars like Amber-Rose and how fabulous she looked.”
So Tanya booked in with a hairdresser and asked them to shave her head.
She said: “It was strange but somehow liberating. I was no longer hiding behind hair extensions and wigs.”
In more beauty news, this Fabulous writer had a £4k Love Island makeover at 21 including jawline Botox and lip fillers… and the results are (quite literally) jaw-dropping.
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