Your hair falling out postpartum is a normal occurrence. Read on to learn the causes and treatment for post natal hair loss. 

 

By OBGYN and fertility specialist Dr. Kenosha Gleaton

If you recently gave birth, you may have noticed excessive hair in your brush or increased shedding while you shower. While it’s easy to be worried about this sudden hair loss, it’s probably not a cause for concern. 

What’s the deal with postnatal hair loss?

Are you finding abnormally large clumps of hair in your brush all of a sudden? If you recently gave birth, this is a common postpartum experience. Around half of those that recently gave birth experience hair loss, but don’t worry, there’s an explanation for this—and there’s an end in sight! 

Telogen effluvium is defined as the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy. About 10% of your hair naturally sheds at any given moment, while the remaining 90% is growing. During pregnancy, a large chunk of a person’s hair that was in its growth state may enter into a resting state that will end up falling out after a couple of months. This means you may have very thick, full hair during your pregnancy. When pregnancy ends, all of the hair that should’ve been shedding over the past nine months does so rather suddenly. Usually this postpartum hair loss will resolve on its own within a year.

Read more about the importance of prenatal and postnatal care.

Should I be worried?

It’s easy to feel a little concerned when you notice dramatic hair loss, but this is a normal and temporary condition that typically resolves within six to 12 months. If you’re noticing an overall thinning within one year of giving birth, you have nothing to be worried about. If you’re noticing bald spots or hair loss that seems to be lasting longer than a year postpartum, you may want to discuss this with your healthcare provider. There are a few reasons you may be experiencing hair loss, and it could be beneficial to rule out any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. 

Hormones and postnatal hair loss

Pregnancy puts a lot of stress on your body and involves a lot of changes in hormone levels. A lot of symptoms can be tied back to high or low levels of different hormones, and your hair is no exception. Estrogen levels can play a large role in hair growth and are the main reason for this postpartum hair loss. During pregnancy there is a rise in hormones, including estrogen, that keeps hair full, thick, and less likely to fall out. After birth, hormone levels go back to normal and hair begins to fall out again. 

Aside from a natural decrease in estrogen following childbirth, hormonal induced hair loss may result from any one or more of the following:

Are you newly postpartum and struggling with the baby blues or a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD)? Here are five self-care tips that may help.

Diet and hair loss

Nutrition has a huge impact on all of our body processes, including hair and skin health. Our diet can have an impact on hair color, strength, and thickness, which is why a balanced diet is so important. Micronutrients consumed in the foods we eat play an important role in hair follicle development and immune cell function. Deficiencies of some vital nutrients such as iron, zinc, niacin, vitamin D, and more can worsen hair loss and cause brittle hair. 

This is especially important to acknowledge in breastfeeding moms, as your diet is supporting both you and your baby. It’s recommended that women consume an extra 400-500 calories a day while breastfeeding to make up for the demand while getting in the appropriate amount of nutrients to avoid any deficiencies. 

Supplements and postnatal hair loss

While a balanced diet is important for consuming a lot of vitamins and minerals, sometimes taking a multivitamin is the best way to ensure you’re consuming RDAs. Some vitamins and minerals help the body produce and maintain proteins, AKA the building blocks of hair. Consistently fueling your body with these nutrients can support healthier skin and hair as well as overall nutrition. 

Tips for managing thinning hair

Unfortunately there isn’t a way to prevent postnatal hair loss, but there are things you can do to help manage it. Whatever the reason is for your hair loss, there are a few things you can do to encourage regrowth and prevent it from getting worse:

  • Avoid any tension or stress on your hair including tight braiding, updos, accessories, etc.

  • Avoid brushing or combing hair when it’s wet

  • Avoid using a lot of heat on your hair, including styling tools and blow dryers. 

  • Maintain a healthy diet including fruits, vegetables, and other foods high in antioxidants and flavonoids

  • Choose hair products that contain biotin and silica

  • Stay active (with your healthcare provider’s approval) as much as you can

  • Look into a hormone test to ensure you have healthy hormone levels

Take-aways

  • Around half of women that recently gave birth experience hair loss

  • Telogen effluvium is the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy

  • Postnatal hair loss is explained by the rise and fall of hormones during and after pregnancy

  • Postpartum hair loss is likely to resolve on its own within a year

  • Estrogen levels play a large role in hair growth and are the main reason for postpartum hair loss

  • A balanced diet is important for overall health as well as hair and skin health

  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies have been linked to worsening hair loss 

  • Prenatal or postnatal vitamins may be beneficial for supplementing your diet and ensuring adequate intake of important nutrients

  • Postnatal hair loss can’t be prevented, but you can manage it by avoiding heat and tension, as well as choosing hair care products that are nourishing and encourage growth. 


Featured Image by Mike Jones