Postpartum Hair Loss: Causes & What To Do About It

Last Updated On: 

August 28, 2018

Before giving birth to your little bundle(s) of joy, you were told to expect losing all sorts of stuff when your due date comes – your pregnancy bump and your excess pregnancy weight being the two most moms-to-be look forward to getting rid of. But you weren’t really told about losing your hair, were you?

You already lost your maternity glow, and now you’re losing your thick and shiny hair? That’s not what you signed up for!

The following article lays out the truth as it is – even though it might be painful to admit and accept, at times.

If you’re here to read all about why you should expect your hair to fall off at a faster rate postpartum, why it happens and what you can do to stop it (or at least slow it down a bit) – you’ve come to the right place, so read on!

What Causes Hair Loss After Pregnancy?

1) Hormonal Changes

If you’re going to blame your postpartum hair loss problems on anything, blame it on the hormones – there’s plenty of scientific evidence that backs you up on this one.

Starting from the early stages of your pregnancy and up until the end of it, levels of production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone in the body tend to skyrocket.

This in addition to a spike in other hormones such as human chorionic gonadotropin (often referred to as hCG), which pregnancy tests rely on measuring to give you back a positive or negative result.

One of the effects of increased levels of estrogen and progesterone production in a pregnant woman’s body is the increase in hair growth, improvement of its quality and slowing down the process of hair loss in general.

So, throughout your pregnancy, you’ll likely notice that you have thicker hair than usual – more hairs are being produced at a faster rate than the ones falling off.

Fast forward to shortly after you give birth to your child, production of estrogen and progesterone levels in the body begins to die down, which means hair growth and quality will take a hit as well.

As a matter of fact, estrogen and progesterone hormones return to their normal pre-pregnancy levels as soon as 24 hours after giving birth. A woman’s body sure doesn’t waste any time, does it?

You’ll begin noticing less thick hair, since less new hair is being produced and more hair is falling out at a faster rate.

2) Blood Volume Changes

During pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume can increase by up to 50%. Increased blood volume and more blood circulation result in less hair falling out.

Shortly after you give birth to your baby, your blood volume levels slowly decrease and get back to normal pre-pregnancy levels within a few weeks after childbirth, which means your hair’s going to start falling off at a faster rate again.

Does Breastfeeding Cause Postpartum Hair Loss?

Contrary to popular belief, postpartum hair loss has nothing to do with whether you breastfeed your little one after giving birth or opt to feed them formula milk instead.

Is It Normal For My Hair To Be Falling Out After Giving Birth To My Baby?

Even though losing hair clumps left and right seems very unnatural and makes many out there feel less “feminine” than they indeed are, hair loss after pregnancy is more common than you might think it is.

And don’t worry, it’s certainly not a condition that’s here to stay – it’s a temporary phase that normally goes away in due time.

When Does Postpartum Hair Loss Start To Happen?

This is going to differ between one woman and another after giving birth.

Some women notice they’re losing hair in clumps very shortly after delivery, others don’t begin noticing this until after a good 3 or 4 months after giving birth, while others only begin going through this an entire year later.

With that being said, there is a common time frame most women who experience postpartum hair loss seem to fall under, and that’s between 2 months to 6 months after childbirth.

Keep in mind, though, that not all women necessarily experience postpartum hair loss. Some women go through multiple pregnancies without ever being affected by this, while others aren’t so lucky.

As a matter of fact, up to 90% of women experience varying degrees of hair loss after giving birth (a condition scientifically referred to as postpartum alopecia), while the rest – around 10% – do not go through any of this.

Also, just because you experienced postpartum hair loss in one pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to go through this again in any future pregnancies, and just because you didn’t experience postpartum hair loss in one pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t in future pregnancies.

With that being said, some women have genetic hair loss issues that tend to become more obvious with each pregnancy.

Ah, pregnancy – it’s a lovely thing that always keep you on your toes, guessing what’s going to happen next! 🙂

When Does Postpartum Hair Loss Stop?

Usually, most women notice that their hair growth is back on track and they aren’t shedding as much hair as they first were between 6 months to 12 months after childbirth.

How To Stop Postpartum Hair Loss

If you’re panicking because of all that beautiful hair of yours falling out in clumps, step back for a second and take a breath, because it isn’t as bad as you might think it is.

Yes, you might be struggling to come up with ways to hide those bald spots – as the headbands you’re wearing aren’t proving to be enough anymore – but don’t lose hope just yet.

The following is a list of things you can do to help stop postpartum hair loss in its tracks, or – at the very least – help slow it down a bit.

1) Less Stress

Pregnancy is a stressful stretch of 9 months that seems to never end, giving birth is stressful and painful, and all of parenthood seems to be just one stressful event after another.

Stress is a killer, both in the context of a pregnancy/parenthood and outside that context, so doing whatever you can do to eliminate stress and live a calmer life will help minimize the hair shedding fest that’s been going on for a while now.

2) Vitamins & Minerals

Are you getting in all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function to the best of its abilities? If need be, take a blood test to make sure all your numbers are on point.

Keep in mind, though, that just because you’re taking vitamins in supplement form doesn’t mean you’re off the hook and can eat as terrible a diet as you wish. Vitamin pills are meant to complement an already healthy, nutritious and well-balanced diet. The two go hand in hand together, one doesn’t replace the other.

Speaking of vitamins, it’s especially important that you keep on taking your prenatal vitamins even after giving birth.

3) Nutritious Diet

Speaking of getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs, you should be eating a healthy and nutritious diet – one that’s rich in adequate amounts of protein to help make the hair growth process a more efficient one.

Also make sure your diet is a colorful one that includes a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens that are rich in iron. Just make sure this isn’t creating problems with your baby and isn’t making them extra gassy if you’re breastfeeding instead of formula feeding.

If it is, talk to your doctor about what you’re noticing to reach a solution that ensures you get your nutritional needs met and your baby does too.

4) Shampoo

If you heard from somewhere or someone that shampooing your hair more regularly will only make your postpartum hair loss condition worse off than it already is, and that you should cut down on the number of times you shampoo your hair until you get through this phase, think again.

A high quality shampoo and conditioner can make all the difference in the world sometimes.

Stay away from heavy conditioners, though, as these tend to have an opposite effect to what we’re trying to do.

5) Careful When Combing

Take it easy whenever combing or brushing your hair – strong pulling is only going to make your hair fall off at a faster rate than it already is.

Also consider getting yourself a new set of combs and brushes specifically designed for hair that damages easily.

6) Careful With The Dyes 

Similarly to how you should pay attention to what kind of dye you apply on your hair while pregnant, the same holds true to any dye you apply on your hair after pregnancy.

Dyes that contain harsh ingredients and harmful chemicals are only going to speed up any postpartum hair loss you’re already experiencing.

7) See A Dermatologist

If all else fails – or even before you’ve spent time trying everything else – consider seeing a dermatologist.

They can suggest treatment options in the form of medication or therapy to stimulate new hair growth at a faster rate, to make up for the hair that’s falling off at a fast rate as well.

8) Avoid Heat Styling

Try your best to avoid heat styling your hair with blow drying, flat ironing and curling irons, as these are all practices that can deal your precious locks with even more damage.

When Should I See A Doctor?

Telling apart what’s normal from what’s abnormal is key in knowing when it’s best to leave things up to your body to solve on its own or go see a doctor for help instead – and there’s no better way to tell if everything’s normal or not than by evaluating how much hair is falling out and how long it lasts.

Experts warn new mothers all the time to expect losing around 500 hairs a day shortly after giving birth – no wonder why so many new mommies panic when they don’t know what to expect!

With that being said, this shouldn’t last forever. Generally speaking, you should notice a significant reduction in the amount of hair you shed after around 6 months to 12 months after you give birth. If everything’s normal, you’ll go back to losing between 70 to 90 hairs a day – which is a pretty standard number for non-pregnant women.

If you suspect you’re losing more than 500 hairs a day shortly after giving birth, or if 12 months pass since you’ve delivered your baby and you’re still noticing hair loss in full force, it’s probably best that you talk to your doctor about all of this.

Your doctor will ask you questions and run any tests they deem necessary to diagnose possible health problems that might be causing – or intensifying – your postpartum hair loss.

Oftentimes, it might be conditions such as hypothyroidism, postpartum thyroiditis or iron-deficiency (anemia) causing you these troubles.

Got Any Other Tips For Me?

Sure thing! While these tips won’t necessarily help you stop, prevent or even slow down postpartum hair loss itself from occurring, they will help you deal with it better so you feel happier about yourself.

1) Short Hair VS Long Hair

If there’s one tip we can give you to get through these several months until everything goes back to normal, it’s this: get a shorter haircut than the one you’re used to – if you usually let your hair grow long, that is.

Hair loss tends to be more obvious when you let your hair grow longer, and can be better disguised when you cut your hair shorter.

You can choose from one of many different short hair cuts and experiment, it doesn’t have to be the boring same old, same old.

2) Hair Piece

It’s exactly what it sounds like – if it’s that bad and you feel like you need a hair piece to cover it up, know that you’re not alone and many women already do this (temporarily) after giving birth.

3) Beauty Products

If you don’t want to go with something as “extreme” as putting on a hair piece to cover up your bald spots, you might want to consider making use of beauty products such as mousses & foams and texturizers to give your hair an appearance of more volume.

How To Prevent Postpartum Hair Loss

An Important Note About Postpartum Hair Loss And Hair Tourniquets

Keep an eye out for hair tourniquets at all times, your baby’s safety, well-being and – oftentimes – life depends on it.

When experiencing postpartum hair loss, strands of hair can fall out wrap around different parts of your baby’s body, such as their toes or fingers.

Because a newborn’s body is so tiny and fragile, even a single strand of hair tightly wrapped around a body part of theirs can entirely cut off blood circulation and oxygen supply to that area.

It’s not everyday that babies get hair tourniquets, but chances of this happening increase the worse your postpartum hair loss condition is.

So, always keep an eye on your little one and cut the hair with a pair of scissors (or anything else you can use) whenever you see it wrapped around your baby’s finger, toe or any other body part.

Wrapping It Up

Losing clumps of your hair after giving birth to your child is not something you look forward to, but is something you’ll have to accept as a normal part of the postpartum phase.

Some women have it easy while others have it really bad, but the fact remains that around 90% of women experience some degree of postpartum hair loss. So, we’re all in this together!

This too shall pass. Till then, hold your head up high and think about this as some sort of badge of honor you wear with pride!

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