Maintain A Healthy Diet
We all know that maintaining a healthy diet is an important factor for optimal health and wellbeing. For postpartum women in particular, a healthy diet can help your overall recovery and stop postpartum hair loss from progressing.
Make sure your diet includes the necessary balance of vitamins and nutrients found primarily in vegetables, whole grains and fresh fruit. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day in order to stay hydrated.
What Causes Hair Loss After Giving Birth
All hair on our bodies grows in a cycle that can last anywhere from two to seven years. The active or growing phase of a strand of hair is called anagen and determines the length of our hair. After a period of time, the hair follicle enters a transition phase before entering its resting phase . Shedding occurs and the process starts all over again.
Changes related to your hormone levels before, during and after pregnancy can affect hair growth. Its completely normal to experience hormonal imbalance after giving birth, and one of the symptoms of hormonal imbalance is postpartum hair loss.
The medical term for postpartum hair loss is telogen effluvium. The condition, which is also referred to as postpartum alopecia, is relatively common, affecting between 40-50% of women in the months following childbirth.
Postpartum hair loss occurs after childbirth because of the sudden change of hormones in your body, particularly the change between progesterone and estrogen.
Postpartum Hair Loss Is A Dispiriting Reality Heres How I Found Help And Hope
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It started in the shower. I have thick, curly hair and am accustomed to shedding when washing or combing100 strands a day is, apparently, normal. What I was not accustomed to was when, around two months after I gave birth to my son last May, seemingly thousands of hairs began leaving my head every time I shampooed. Soon it was no longer just in the shower: It was when I gently raked my hair back into a ponytail and my hand emerged with a competing ponytail of escaping strands or when my pillowcase appeared to be covered with floating clouds of dark coils or, God forbid, when I actually brushed it and an American Girl dollsworth of hair clogged the bristles. Worse still is that I began noticing patchy spots around my hairline. My scalp was newly visible and I was not pleased to see it. Was the muffin-top of residual baby weight hanging over my C-section scar, and my ballooning, milk-leaking breasts not enough aesthetic trauma to suffer? Apparently not.
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Why Postpartum Hair Loss Occurs
Most women notice their hair changing while theyre pregnantoftentimes hair will thicken up, become fuller, and maybe a little on the dryer side. After pregnancy, however, these same women might notice that their hair starts falling out in earnest.
The simple explanation is this: there are a lot of different hormone shifts happening while youre pregnant, one of them promoting hair growth. The hormones going on inside your pregnant body are actually preventing you from shedding. Everyone sheds every day, but that typically stops while youre pregnantsomething subtle that you might not notice. Instead, youll notice your hair getting thicker.
After pregnancy, your hormones return to their status quo, meaning theres a big drop in estrogen. This drop triggers your regular shedding schedulewhich you havent been on for months. So, your body starts shedding more than usual to get rid of all the excess hair. This event is called telogen effluvium and is usually triggered by a significant event like giving birth. It normally takes about three months of all that excess hair to shed out, which is why most women notice shedding around three months postpartum.
Does Pregnancy Cause Abnormal Hair Loss
Hair loss that is connected to pregnancy usually occurs after delivery. During pregnancy, an increased number of hairs go into the resting phase, which is part of the normal hair loss cycle.This condition is not serious enough to cause bald spots or permanent hair loss, and it should begin to diminish within 3-4 months after delivery. If you feel that you are experiencing unusual hair loss while you are pregnant, this may be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
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How Hormones Affect Your Hair
Hormones are the biggest reason for your pregnancy hair changes and postpartum hair loss.
During pregnancy, your high levels of estrogen prevented your usual rate of hair loss. Normally, your hair falls out in small amounts every day. During pregnancy, your hair loss decreases. The effect is compounded by your increased blood volume and circulation, which also causes your hair to fall out less than normal.
So after your baby arrives and your hormone levels drop, your hair makes up for lost time by falling out in much bigger clumps than it normally does. The total volume of your hair loss probably isnt more than you would have lost over the last nine months, it just seems like it because its happening all at once.
Postpartum hair loss can set in any day after your baby arrives, and it sometimes continues as long as a year. It usually peaks around the 4-month mark, so if your baby is a few months old and youre still losing clumps of hair, that doesnt mean its time to panic!
Treatment For Hair Fall During Pregnancy
Hair loss during and after pregnancy may not require any special attention. It generally resolves on its own with time.
If hair growth does not return to pre-treatment levels, doctors may prescribe minoxidil , which is not considered safe for usage during pregnancy.
Working with your doctor to find medication or vitamin supplements that will restore your levels to normal in the case of conditions like hypothyroidism or iron deficiency anaemia should assist to kickstart the regrowth cycle over time.
Most treatments for other illnesses, including androgenic alopecia, are also not recommended during pregnancy. Instead of medications, your doctor may recommend low-level laser treatment , which uses red light pulses to stimulate hair growth.
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Can You Prevent Postpartum Hair Loss
Unfortunately, postpartum hair loss is not a condition that can be prevented. It is possible to minimize the severity and promote healthy hair by maintaining a well-balanced diet and continuing to take you prenatal vitamins. In order to lower the risk of hair loss, you should also refrain from using products that lead to hair breakage, typically hair styling implements that use heat, such as straightening irons, blow dryers, or curlers. Dr. Green also recommends hair styles that do not pull at your scalp, which includes tight ponytails and braids.
Be Aware Of Hair Tourniquets
Something to be aware of as a new mom, but especially if you are experiencing postpartum hair loss is hair tourniquets. A hair tourniquet is when a hair falls out of your head and gets wrapped around your babys finger, toe, or any other body part. This can cut off the circulation to that area for your baby. If you notice your baby crying for an unexplained reason, check their hands and feet for a hair tourniquet. If you find one, remove it by gently unraveling it. If you cannot find the loose end from which to unravel it, gently cut if off with small scissors. If you are struggling to remove the tourniquet, seek help from a healthcare professional immediately.
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How Your Hormones Change During Pregnancy And Postpartum
During pregnancy, your hormones change dramatically.
One of the first to spike is human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. Thats the hormone your pregnancy test measured and its rising levels indicated that you were pregnant. Pregnancy also causes several other hormone levels to rise, including estrogen, progesterone, oxytocin, and prolactin. Your blood volume also rose during pregnancy, to as much as 50 percent greater volume than normal by your due date.
Immediately after your baby is born, several of your hormone levels drop quickly, including estrogen and progesterone. Those hormones will be almost back to normal levels within 24 hours after birth, although prolactin will stay high as long as youre breast-feeding.
Your blood volume also decreases, but its drop is more gradual. It gets back to normal a few weeks after your baby arrives.
What Can You Do While You Wait For Your Hair To Return To Its Regular Growth Cycle
- Prevent using a brush or comb that pulls or stresses the hair.
- You wont have the ability to prevent the hair from falling out, however you can try out different products to give your hair a fuller look during this transition period. Avoid heavy conditioners, which tend to weigh down hair.
- If youre tired of scooping hair from the shower drain or sweeping hairs off the restroom floor, you may wish to select a short cut. Plus, a brief, wash-and-go hairstyle can be much easier to manage when you have a brand-new baby in the house and youre strapped for time.
Its worth talking with your healthcare provider about your hair loss if you believe its excessive. Loss of hair can be a symptom of anemia or postpartum thyroiditis, which are treatable conditions.
Good luck! Have a nice weekend!
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It Might Be An Underlying Health Issue
Growing a baby is a lot of work for your body. It increases your risk of several health issues, including:
Pregnancy increases your risk of iron deficiency anemia. If youre carrying multiples , have severe morning sickness, or got pregnant soon after giving birth, your risk is even higher.
Low iron levels mean you dont have enough red blood cells to efficiently carry oxygen through your body. This causes hair thinning, along with several other symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- frequent headaches
Since anemia isnt a preggo-only condition, your hair probably wont get its volume and shine back until you address your iron levels.
If youre pregnant and think you might have anemia, talk to your doctor. A simple blood test can determine whether you need iron supplements.
Manage Stress As Best As You Can
Being a new parent is hard. Period. Managing the stress that comes along with parenthood becomes doubly important since stress can induce or prolong hair loss.
Be sure to have a whole box of stress management tools at the ready, which could include things like exercise, meditation, getting as much sleep as you can, and even just getting some fresh air.
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Tips For Handling Postpartum Hair Loss
While postpartum hair loss is an expected part of the postpartum period, it can still be devastating and difficult for those experiencing it.
During this time, treat your hair gently and use strengthening and conditioning products to help keep the hair soft and supple to prevent breakage, says Dr. Yates, adding that changing your hairstyle to a shorter cut will also help it look thicker during the shedding and subsequent regrowth phase.
Its also important to monitor your nutrition to make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals to support you during this exciting and challenging change in your body and life, says Dr. Yates.
While theres no specific medical treatment for postpartum hair loss, Dr. Roskin says a volumizing shampoo can be a great option, as can avoiding heavy conditioners. Its better to use products for fine hair since they will be less likely to weigh down hair.
When Does Postpartum Hair Loss Start & When Does It End
Hair loss typically happens between two and five months postpartum . It can come on suddenly and you may feel like youve left a small animal in the shower! The hair loss can also feel significant because you actually do have more hair on your head. . The exact time will depend on your hairs own unique lifecycle. The most common regrowth phase takes about 3 months.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
Talk with your provider if you continue to lose hair for more than six months. You might have another condition that causes hair loss, such as iron deficiency or thyroid disease.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Adjusting to having a new baby can be stressful. Postpartum hair loss can cause additional stress and anxiety. But hair loss after childbirth is normal and very common. And while you cant prevent it, the right hair products and hairstyle can help while youre waiting for your hair to grow back. By your babys first birthday, your hair should be full again.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/13/2022.
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. Hair Loss in New Moms. Accessed 6/13/2022.
- Hughes EC, Saleh D. Telogen Effluvium. . In: StatPearls . Treasure Island : StatPearls Publishing 2022 Jan-. Accessed 6/13/2022.
- Murphrey MB, Agarwal S, Zito PM. Anatomy, Hair. . In: StatPearls . Treasure Island : StatPearls Publishing 2022 Jan-. Accessed 6/13/2022.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy
What Hair Changes Can A Person Expect After Pregnancy
A person may experience hair loss from the scalp approximately 3 months after giving birth.
Postpartum hair loss medically known as telogen effluvium occurs shortly after childbirth due to the bodys changing levels of progesterone and estrogen. Doctors may also refer to postpartum hair loss as excessive hair shedding.
After the birth, the bodys hormone levels drop quickly to return to their prepregnancy levels. This decrease in hormones triggers the hair to revert to its former growth cycle.
Although it can differ from person to person, the hair should grow back entirely in 36 months.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology , postpartum hair loss is normal and temporary.
It is also important to note that it is not true hair loss. It usually stops within 6 months post-birth, and most people see their hair return to its usual thickness within 1 year, although this could happen sooner.
Hair loss due to pregnancy is temporary, and a person does not need to take any steps to treat it. However, the AAD suggests the following tips for postpartum haircare:
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What Causes Hair Loss After Baby
The body experiences soaring estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy, says Salinger, which causes hair to remain in an ongoing stage of growth, creating thicker, more lustrous strands. Then your hormones level out in the months following childbirth. Hair remains in this resting stage for approximately three months before it falls out and new growth shows itself, says Salinger. Typically the regrowth is in the form of baby bangs appearing along the hairline.
It Could Be An Underlying Health Problem
Growing a baby puts a lot of strain on your body. It raises your chances of developing various health problems, including:
- Diabetes during pregnancy
These medical disorders, depending on their severity, can lead to TE.
a. Thyroid problems
Thyroid issues, such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism , can be difficult to diagnose during pregnancy.
The more common of the two illnesses, hypothyroidism, affects 2 or 3 out of every 100 pregnant women. One of the symptoms is hair loss, which also includes muscle cramps, constipation, and weariness.
One in every twenty moms will suffer thyroid difficulties after the baby is born . A blood test is nearly often used to diagnose thyroid issues.
b. Iron deficiency
Pregnancy increases the likelihood of developing iron-deficiency anaemia. Low iron levels suggest a paucity of red blood cells, which are responsible for efficiently transporting oxygen throughout the body. This causes hair thinning as well as a variety of other symptoms, including:
- breathing problems
- headaches that come back
Because anaemia is more than simply a pregnancy problem, you wont be able to recover the volume and luster of your hair unless you treat your iron levels.
If you are pregnant and suspect you have anaemia, see your doctor. A simple blood test can determine whether you require iron supplements.
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Preventing Hair Fall During Pregnancy
While pregnant, you may or may not be able to avoid hair loss or shedding. It all depends on the cause of your hair loss. However, here are some ways to lessen the possibility of pregnancy hair loss:
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Focus on getting enough protein, iron, and other necessary nutrients. You should also talk to your doctor about whether an over-the-counter or prescription prenatal vitamin is right for you.
- Consult your doctor to see if any medications or supplements you are taking are causing your hair loss.
- Avoid tight braids, buns, and ponytails, as well as other hairstyles that may cause your hair to pull. While youre at it, avoid twisting, tugging, or rubbing your hair.
- Wash the hair gently and use a wide-toothed comb to avoid pulling hair too hard during detangling.
- Allowing your hair to rest without using harsh treatments like hot rollers, curling irons, hot oil, or permanent treatments.
- Consult your physician. Physical examinations do not always indicate the cause of hair loss. While most cases of hair loss during pregnancy are temporary, some may require treatment for either vitamin supplements or hormone management.
If youve already lost hair, consider utilising volumizing shampoos and conditioners. Heavy formulations might cause hair to become weighed down. When conditioning your hair, focus on the ends rather than the scalp for added lift.
Certain haircut styles, such as a short bob, may also make your hair appear fuller as it comes back.