Postpartum hair loss is a common side effect of pregnancy which affects many new mothers. In the months after giving birth, you may notice your hair begins shedding or in severe cases, may even experience whole clumps of hair falling out. Obviously losing hair can be worrying, but most women find that their hair returns to its pre-pregnancy state after a few months, once their hormones have had time to rebalance.
If you’re going through this stage now, or you’re currently pregnant and want to know what to expect, just keep reading. Find out more about the causes of postpartum hair loss, how long it lasts and what you can do about it.
Is Hair Loss Normal Postpartum?
Hair shedding is a common after-effect of pregnancy which many women go through. This isn’t to say that everyone will experience it, but in most cases, it is not a cause for concern and most women will find their hair returns to its normal thickness.
What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?
Eva Proudman MIT IAT from the Institute of Trichologists, explains that during pregnancy “raised levels of oestrogen help to keep your hair in the Anagen (growing phase) for longer”. With hair in the growing phase for longer, the hair which would normally be shed (on average 50-150 a day) isn’t lost, which is why many expectant mothers notice their hair seems thicker and healthier during pregnancy.
However, “oestrogen levels drop quite quickly after giving birth” Proudman points out, and so “the hair that has stayed in the growing phase (during pregnancy) moves into the shedding phase”, leading to hair loss.
Furthermore, like any form of stress, the physical stress of labour can also trigger hair loss. According to Iain Sallis, MIT Trichologist at Hairmedic. “blood loss and the shock of the labour can also cause the hair to go into an early shedding phase, which occurs approx. 8 weeks after childbirth”.
How Long Does Postpartum Hair Loss Last?
“In many cases, excessive hair shedding is temporary lasting for between 3-6 months, eventually correcting itself,” says Proudman. “If you still feel worried about hair shedding and ongoing ‘thinning’ then booking a full consultation with a Trichologist to discuss these concerns is advisable.”
How to Stop Postpartum Hair Loss
With hair loss so closely linked to genetics, unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done to stop it. However, there are changes that you can make that will help to strengthen the hair and stimulate growth. These include:
Diet and supplements
A good diet is crucial for optimal hair health. Proudman explains that “the hair needs around 25% of your total daily protein intake, so eating good sources of protein and iron is a great place to start.” Sallis agrees, adding that “Iron is the most important mineral for hair, B12 and Vit D the most important vitamins.”
Get as much sleep as you can
Obviously aiming for a full 8 hours is quite ambitious with a newborn but sleep is essential for repair. “As the hair follicle is the second fastest dividing cell in the body, it needs lots of energy, so sleep really is key” says Proudman. “Managing your stress levels will help as well – there are many apps available that can help you to unwind and relax such as Headspace and Calm, which can be used in a spare 5-minutes when your baby is napping”.
Reduce heat styling
Heat weakens the hair and leaves it more susceptible to damage, so try to keep heated styling to a minimum. When you do use it, make sure to use a heat protectant like the TRESemmé Heat Defence Spray which shields hair up to 230 degrees and protects against breakage and frizz.
See your GP
Hair loss can also be a symptom of other conditions unrelated to pregnancy. If your hair shedding doesn’t seem to be easing up or its accompanied by other symptoms like an itchy scalp or areas of complete baldness, we’d recommend making an appointment to see your GP.
Best Shampoos for Postpartum Hair Loss
Our hair is made up of up to 90% protein, so while it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet, we’d also suggest trying a protein shampoo to help strengthen hair. Formulated with a Caviar & Protein Complex, the silicone-free Nexxus Therappe Shampoo gently cleanses while also offering intense hydration. Follow up with the Nexxus Humectress Conditioner to strengthen the surface of the hair and lock in moisture.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about postpartum hair loss. For more advice on how to look after your locks, check out our Hair Care page.