Hair loss after pregnancy is more common than you may think. According to the American Pregnancy Association, an average of 40-50% of women experience postpartum hair loss. When it happens after childbirth varies from woman to woman, and different women experience different amounts of hair shedding, but if this is happening to you, don’t worry. We’ll tell you what causes it, how long it usually lasts, and what to do about it.
What causes hair loss after pregnancy
It can be scary to see your hair falling out in clumps or to feel like you’re possibly going bald. During pregnancy, your hair was probably thicker and fuller, with a lustrous shine, and then suddenly, after baby, it’s all falling out. This is due to your hormones rebalancing themselves. In essence, your body is going back to normal.
If you didn’t notice, you actually experienced decreased hair loss during pregnancy. This is thanks to the high estrogen and progesterone levels in your body during pregnancy. However, after giving birth, your progesterone and estrogen will drop back to normal, pre-pregnancy levels as quickly as within 24 hours of delivery.
So all of that hair that your body was hanging onto for nine months will suddenly begin falling out. For some, it’s all at once, in a short period, and for others, it may last several months. Every woman is different, and even every pregnancy is different. What happened with your first child might not happen with your second or third.
How much hair is normal to lose
On average, non-pregnant women lose around 80 hairs throughout the day, each and every day. Although you might see a lot of that in the drain when you shower, you likely won’t even notice much hair shedding on a day-to-day basis.
However, during pregnancy, your raised hormone levels prevent your hair follicles from releasing these extra hairs, so you continue to hold onto them even while new hairs are growing – hence the luscious pregnancy locks. Then, once your hormone levels normalize after childbirth, you could start shedding 400 or more hairs a day. That’s definitely enough to get your attention.
So, how much hair do you lose a day? It varies from person to person and is largely based on your body’s own hormone levels. If you notice that you’re shedding large clumps or even developing bald spots, don’t panic. Even this is normal, and it’ll start growing back eventually.
How long does postpartum hair loss last?
The most common time range of postpartum hair loss is around 3-6 months after having your baby. Some women do experience it sooner, and some don’t experience it until even a year after childbirth, but most fall within that average range.
The American Pregnancy Association says that hair loss after pregnancy tends to peak around 3-4 months postpartum, but even for women who experience it longer, it should completely normalize within 6-12 months.
As your body returns to its normal, pre-baby state, your hair follicles also go through a rejuvenation process. During the hair shedding phase, you could lose up to 60% of hair that had been in the growth state during your pregnancy, but have no fear – the hair shedding will stop, and your normal hair growth will begin again.
How to stop hair from falling out
Although you can’t fully stop hair shedding, there are some things you can do to reduce postpartum hair loss and even stimulate your hair follicles back into the growth phase.
As with everything, it all starts with nutrition. In particular, eat fruits and vegetables that are high in Vitamins B, C, and E, as well as iron. Protein also aids in hair strength and growth, and healthy oils and minerals like omega-3s, beta carotene, and magnesium increase hair health.
Food examples include:
- dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale (iron and Vitamin C)
- fresh-caught salmon, eggs, and walnuts (omega-3s and protein)
- carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes (beta carotene)
Supplement with vitamins
Although not a substitute for good nutrition, if you aren’t able to eat a healthy diet every day, it’s a good idea to take a daily multivitamin and supplements like B Complex, omega 3s, magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin D. It’s often suggested that you continue taking your prenatal vitamins after childbirth if you’re breastfeeding, so ask your doctor what he or she recommends for you.
Use special shampoos and conditioners
If your hair is looking limp and thin from postpartum hair loss, you can give it a bit of perk with volumizing shampoo. Look for shampoos with biotin and silica, too, to stimulate hair growth and give your hair extra volume and shine.
You can also try hair-growth-stimulating remedies like rice water for hair. It’s easy to make with simple ingredients at home, and it’s full of vitamins and antioxidants that feed your scalp and hair follicles to make your hair healthy, shiny, and strong.
Go easy on the styling
When you’re experiencing hair loss after pregnancy, the best way to stop hair shedding is to just leave your hair alone. That means minimal styling for a while until things go back to normal.
When possible, let your hair air dry instead of using a hairdryer, which dries your hair out and weakens it further. Heat-styling implements like curling irons and flat irons also make your already-fragile hair brittle and dry, and they can actually make the appearance of thinned-out hair more obvious.
Also, avoid anything that pulls or puts tension on your hair. This includes hairstyles like braids, weaves, and cornrows, and hair accessories like rubber bands or barrettes. Minimize hair brushing to just once a day, and use a wide-toothed comb when possible. Headscarves and bandanas are a great way to cover bald patches or uneven hair while still looking stylish.
Hair loss after pregnancy is totally normal, and although there’s no way to completely stop hair shedding, you don’t have to feel like a victim to it either. By following these tips and staying in communication with your doctor, you can navigate this postpartum stage while still enjoying life as a mother to your new baby.
And to help other moms who are experiencing postpartum hair loss, we’d love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments what was your experience with hair loss after pregnancy and what tips or remedies worked for you.