When you get ready to have a baby, everyone tells you to expect to never sleep again. They joke about the pain you go through or how amazing being a parent is. No one tells you about postpartum hair loss.
With my first child, I didn’t notice anything, but my second, third, and fourth pregnancy have made me dislike postpartum hair loss. I clog the drains – repeatedly. My husband invests in drain cleaner whenever I’m about to have a baby and cleans the drains in preparation.
With my third baby, I was sure I was going to go bald. In the shower, clumps of hair would fall out, and each time I brushed my hair, I was sure it was going to be the end. A wig was surely in my future.
Postpartum hair loss is a real thing, but no one seems to talk about it. It’s not in the “What to Expect Postpartum” list, so moms are left wondering if losing hair after having a baby is normal. Will they end up totally bald?
Some people like to blame postpartum hair loss on breastfeeding, but it can happen to all mothers regardless of their feeding choices. There is no evidence to support that breastfeeding causes or increases hair loss.
Hair loss is normal and part of the postpartum process that your body undergoes. Most moms experience this around three months postpartum. By then, you probably feel a lot better, and you may not consider yourself postpartum, but you are.
So, the answer to what causes postpartum hair loss is hormones. We just love those pregnancy hormones!
Hormones are the largest culprit for postpartum hair loss(References), also known as postpartum alopecia. Throughout your pregnancy, you have high levels of estrogen in your body that reduced your usual rate of hair loss. Everyone losses hair in small amounts throughout the day, but estrogen causes the hair loss to decrease in pregnancy. Increased blood volume and circulation also reduce hair loss.
Now that your baby is in your arms and not in the womb, your hormone levels drastically drop, and your hair has to make up for all its lost time falling out. So, now, it comes out in larger clumps than you might have expected.
Postpartum hair loss can start any day after your baby arrives because your hormone levels start to drop rather quickly. However, it typically peaks around 4 months. If you suddenly start to lose clumps of hair, try not to panic. It’s normal.
Is Postpartum Hair Loss Common?
Yes, postpartum hair loss is very common! You’re in great company because as many as 90 percent of women experience some degree of postpartum alopecia. Around 40 to 50 percent of women experience telogen effluvium which is the excessive shedding of hair in the first five months after childbirth.
It’s important to understand that the estrogen causes a sudden change and response in your body during the current hair cycle. Your hair goes through cycles, so most people experience a stop in hair loss or thinning around 6 months to a year. It might feel like it’s never going to stop, but the hair cycle will eventually restart.
Almost 90% of your hair in a growth phase. However, when pregnancy happens, 100% is in a growth phase. So, once you have your baby, more hair enters the resting phase which is the phase can cause the falling out. So, don’t worry, soon your hair will enter the growth stage once again.
How Much Postpartum Hair Shedding Is Normal?
Since your hair is making up for lost time, it comes out in larger clumps and quantities. You might feel like you’re going to go bald, but the total volume of loss hair isn’t any more than what you would have lost over the nine months of pregnancy. It just feels like a lot because it happens all at once.
Did you know that an average person loses about 100 hairs each day? Since it’s not all at one time, you don’t notice losing that many hairs. After pregnancy, there is a dramatic increase in hair loss, so you can shed up to 500 strands per day. That sounds like a crazy amount, but it’s considered normal.
Excessive Hair Loss After Pregnancy
Typically, postpartum alopecia isn’t serious enough to lead to permanent hair loss or cause bald spots. If you do feel like you’re having an unusual amount of hair loss, it might be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
For example, pregnancy can alter your ferritin levels, which is a blood cell protein that helps your body store iron. That can lead to your thyroid going a bit crazy. You can have blood tests to see what’s happening.
Pregnant and postpartum women are more likely to have issues, such as:
- Vitamin and Nutrient Deficiencies: Your body needs vitamins to keep your hair healthy. Without the right minerals and vitamins in your body, your hair can become brittle and thin.
- Postpartum Anemia: If you don’t have enough iron in your blood, you can develop postpartum anemia caused by a poor diet or excessive blood loss during labor and delivery. Iron-deficient anemia can definitely cause hair loss.
- Postpartum Thyroiditis: This disease happens when your thyroid is inflamed after giving birth, which causes a hormonal imbalance and leads to problems. The problems include fatigue and weakness, and it also can cause excessive hair loss.
Does Postpartum Hair Loss Hypothyroidism Get Worse With Each Pregnancy?
Postpartum hair loss may or may not get worse with each pregnancy. It’s impossible to give a definite answer because your hair loss is dependent on your hormones. Each pregnancy is different, and your hormone levels with each pregnancy are different. Therefore, you never know if your next pregnancy will be worse or better.
However, just because you have another baby doesn’t mean that the hair loss will get worse each time. There is a good chance you’ll have some form of hair loss each time since a majority of women do. I’ve had some degree of postpartum alopecia for all four of my pregnancies, but only one was worse than the others.
How To Treatment for Postpartum Hair Loss?
Moms often wonder how to prevent postpartum hair loss, but the truth is you can’t do anything to stop it from happening to you. All you can do is try some treatment to help reduce and treat the problems.
It’s normal for your hair to get thinner after pregnancy. Remember the hormones stopped hair loss, so you had thick, shiny hair from the prenatal vitamins. If it’s not bugging you, you don’t have to worry about trying to treat it. If it does bother you, here are some things to do to treat postpartum hair loss and make your hair appear fuller.
1. Get a New Haircut
Try a new haircut and get some professional advice. It might be a good time to try a different hairstyle that incorporates the fine hairs in the front. Sometimes, you need to shorten long hair into long bangs to let them frame your face.
You might also want to try coloring your hair. It can give it body, and darker hair can highlight the front of your hairline. So, if it’s receding, the darker color acts as a camouflage.
2. Skip Styling
You might love to use a hair dryer or a curling iron, but all of those things will make your hair look thinner. That’s the last thing you want right now. So, try to avoid any fancy styling for now and air drying will help.
Brushing too hard also leads to larger clumps coming out. Be gentle when you’re brushing and try not to brush more than once a day. Try investing in a nice quality brush that will get out of the knots without pulling more hair out by the roots.
A lot of women swear by boar bristle hair brushes because they help to spread your hair’s natural oils. Spreading your natural oils help to make sure each strand is nourished rather than just your scalp.
3. Take Your Vitamins
You need to continue to take your vitamins throughout your postpartum stage as well. Vitamins aren’t a substitute for a well-balanced diet, especially for new moms.
There aren’t any specific vitamins that can reduce hair loss, but overall health is the goal for you. Continue to take your prenatal vitamins after your baby is born, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
It’s most important to eat meals that are full of protein and iron. A few protein-rich foods include eggs, fish, lean meats, poultry, quinoa, lentils, nuts, and chickpeas. You also want to make sure to pick iron-rich foods like beetroot, walnuts, almonds, and spinach.
Don’t forget those omega-3 fatty acids. It’s known for supporting people who have hair loss, but it also helps to grow back healthier and stronger hair at a faster rate. Omega-3 promotes healthy well-nourished skin, which includes your scalp.
4. Eat Well
Make sure you eat a lot of variety of fruits, vegetables, and good proteins. Your body needs all the nutrients, and the best way to get those nutrients is by eating a well-balanced, healthy diet.
Foods like dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, eggs, and fish are great additions to your diet. These foods add things like iron, vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.
5. Manage Stress
That’s funny, right? What can be more stressful than becoming a new mother? It’s important to try to get some sleep – funny, again. Rest when you can, whether you’re napping or binge-watching Netflix while breastfeeding.
Take walks around the block. Try some yoga, and take baths if you love them. Find activities that you love and will lower your stress level. Breathe deep and try to take care of yourself to decrease how many hairs you’ll lose.
6. Use Volumizing Shampoo
Some moms believe that using a volumizing shampoo helps to add body to your hair(source). It can give you that lustrous look you had while you were pregnant. You might have to fake it for a bit until your hair grows back!
Make sure you only use conditioners on the end of your hair. Conditioners can coat your hair and make it heavier. Heavier hair hangs down closer to your head, decreasing the volume.
7. Keep It Moisturized
You want to make sure to prevent any extra breakage of your hair or the loss of structure. The loss of structure also can lead to hair loss. If you wash your hair often, you need to keep it sealed properly. A good-quality conditioner is necessary or you can use hair oil to keep it smooth and moisturized.
8. Massage Your Scalp
Believe it or not, postpartum alopecia can be reduced by frequent scalp massages. Massaging your scalp helps to increase the blood circulation, causing the hair follicles to receive more nutrition to hold onto in the roots.
You can use lukewarm hair oil to gently massage your scalp for at least 5 to 10 minutes per day, and make sure you massage your scalp when you use shampoo. If you don’t want to use oil, you can just massage away, whenever you feel like it. Not only will it help with your hair loss, but scalp massages cause you to feel relaxed and calm. Everyone needs some more relaxation and calm in their lives, right?
Handling Postpartum Hair Loss
I understand how frustrating postpartum hair loss can feel. Who wants to lose clumps of hair or feel like they’re going bald? Worse of all, you can’t prevent the hair loss since it’s totally dependent on your hormones.
Since you have to let nature run its course, the best thing you can do is eat a good diet, take great care of the hair strands that stick around, and get a haircut that makes your thin hair look great. If you’re concerned about the amount of hair that you’re losing, be sure to talk to your doctor to see if they need to run any bloodwork