When people discuss pregnancy, hair loss isn’t often the main topic of discussion. However, someone can experience hair loss after giving birth. If you notice more hair in the shower drain or on your brush after pregnancy, how can you help your hair?
Continue reading to learn more about hair loss after pregnancy, including why this happens and how you can help your hair.
How Pregnancy Affects Your Hair
You go through many changes during pregnancy, including how your hair grows. Your hair sheds more slowly as you carry your little one, giving you fuller and thicker hair. Your estrogen and progesterone levels are higher, causing your hair to stay in a continuous growth phase.
Besides these hormonal changes, prenatal vitamins and a nutritional diet during pregnancy can benefit your hair, providing a fuller-looking appearance.
The Pregnancy to Postpartum Shift
Once you’re postpartum, your hair begins its typical shedding routine. This shift makes it seem like you’re losing more hair than normal. Your hair naturally sheds between 50–100 hairs per day, but stressful events, like pregnancy, can cause your hair to shed more frequently.
Previous research found that healthy hair is typically 85% growing and 15% resting. After stressful events, this resting phase can increase up to 70%. Hair loss during postpartum is known as telogen effluvium, a condition causing temporary hair loss after stress, shock, or a traumatic event.
What Is Postpartum Hair Loss?
Postpartum hair loss is a condition causing your hair to thin and shed within a few weeks of giving birth. While this condition can be stressful and worrying, it’s a normal, temporary reaction to pregnancy. It’s unlikely you will go bald, and your hair will return to its natural growth cycle with time.
What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?
The cause of postpartum hair loss isn’t pregnancy or giving birth itself but the stress of giving birth. The medical term for this condition is telogen effluvium, an increase in hair shedding due to a disturbance in the hair cycle.
Different hairs are in different stages of the hair growth cycle at any given time. These stages include:
- Anagen (growth): The active growing phase of your hair
- Catagen (transition): The transitional phase of your hair where growth stops
- Telogen (rest): The resting phase where your hair follicles rest & hairs begin to shed
Pregnancy can cause you to develop telogen effluvium, causing more hairs to move into the resting phase and begin to shed. You may notice more hair falls out when you wash or brush your hair.
While pregnancy is a common cause of hair loss, other events can trigger telogen effluvium, including:
- Severe stress: Prolonged periods of stress can cause hair loss
- Poor diet: Lack of protein, iron, B-vitamins, & zinc can cause hair loss
- Sudden weight loss: Weight loss or consistent calorie restriction can cause hair shedding
- Menopause: The hormonal changes during menopause can cause hair loss
- Certain drugs: Certain medications & recreational drugs can cause hair loss
- Underlying health conditions: Autoimmune disease, conditions affecting the thyroid gland, & alopecia areata
- Surgery: Hair loss may occur after surgery depending on the procedure, length of stay in the hospital, medications, & nutritional status
- Metal toxicity: Contact with toxic chemicals in certain metals can cause hair loss
How to Help With Postpartum Hair Loss
Unfortunately, you cannot prevent postpartum hair loss or speed up hair growth. This hair loss is a normal part of your recovery from pregnancy, but you can do things to benefit your health and appearance.
Consider doing the following to help your hair during postpartum hair loss:
Avoid Extra Stress on Your Hair
Brushing and heating your hair can add unneeded stress. The heat from a hairdryer or curling iron can make your hair look thinner, so consider air-drying your hair for the time being.
Brushing your hair with too much force can cause larger clumps to fall out. You don’t need to avoid brushing entirely, but be gentle and don’t brush more than once a day.
Give Yourself the Nutrients You Need
Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and proteins can help your body get the nutrients it needs. Consider adding dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes and carrots, eggs, and fish into your diet.
Take Vitamin Supplements
While vitamins should not be a priority over a balanced diet, they can help as a supplement. No specific vitamins are ideal for hair loss, but they can improve your overall health. If you’re breastfeeding, continuing to take your prenatal vitamins can be beneficial.
Consider Volumizing Shampoo
Volumizing shampoos can help add volume to your hair. It can help change the appearance of your hair, making it look more lustrous and full.
Professional Options Are Available if Hair Loss Continues
Postpartum hair loss is typically a temporary condition, and you shouldn’t experience it for more than 6 months. You may have another problem if hair loss continues past half a year. If you experience this consistent hair loss, professional support can help restore your hair to its natural state. Contact a hair loss expert if you’re experiencing long-term hair loss. They can help find an effective treatment for your needs.