Have you ever seen a pregnant woman with a luscious set of locks only to lose a lot of it after delivery? This is what’s called postpartum hair loss after pregnancy. Many moms and moms-to-be pray and hope to skip the whole postpartum hair loss journey. Some would go great lengths to avoid it altogether, and others are lucky not to experience it at all. We know postpartum hair loss and hair shedding isn’t easy to deal with. It’s hard not to panic at the sight of clumps of hair (that aren’t on your head!), especially if you don’t know when it’s going to stop or how to deal with it. Here we’ve explained the causes of hair loss after pregnancy, and how to prevent and treat it post-baby.
Dealing with Postpartum Hair Loss
Causes of Postpartum Hair Loss
Eva Proudman, MIT IAT from the Institute of Trichologists, explains that during pregnancy, “Raised levels of estrogen help to keep your hair in the anagen (growing phase) for longer.” With hair in the growing phase for a more prolonged time, the hair which would normally shed (on average 50 to 150 strands a day) isn’t lost, which is why many expectant mothers notice their hair seems thicker and healthier during pregnancy.
However, “Estrogen levels drop quite quickly after giving birth,” Proudman points out, “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 labor can also trigger hair loss. According to Iain Sallis, MIT Trichologist at Hairmedic, “Blood loss and the shock of the labor can also cause the hair to go into an early shedding phase, which occurs approximately 8 weeks after childbirth.”
How long does postpartum hair loss last?
“In many cases, excessive hair shedding is temporary lasting for between 3 to 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 strengthen the hair and stimulate growth. These include:
Diet and supplements
A good diet is crucial for optimal hair health. Proudman explains, “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, “Iron is the most important mineral for hair, and B-12 and Vitamin D are 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.
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 TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Heat Protect Spray, to help shield hair from up to 230 degrees F and protects against breakage and frizz.
See your doctor
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 is accompanied by other symptoms like an itchy scalp or areas of complete baldness, we’d recommend making an appointment to see your primary care doctor.
Preventing Postpartum Hair Loss
As always, prevention is better than cure, right? But how does one actually prevent postpartum hair loss? While you must keep in mind that this is strictly hormonal; preventing having to deal with the worst of it may be simpler than you think. For one, you can avoid wearing your hair in tight hairstyles which can create tension on your scalp, and you can also employ vitamins to support hair growth. Supplements such as zinc, Vitamin E and biotin can help maintain healthy hair growth, but as always, consult with your physician first before using.
Regrowing Hair After Postpartum Hair Loss
After your beautiful baby arrives, you may experience postpartum hair loss. As mentioned previously, this can last for up to a year. To promote proper regrowth of hair, get an adequate amount of rest whenever possible, maintain a healthy diet, and employ nutritional or prenatal supplements into your wellness routine to prevent any further shedding. You should also try some scalp massages to help relieve stress which is also a culprit of postpartum hair loss.
Postpartum Hair Loss Hairstyles
Keep your hair loosely styled and easy to manage. As busy as you may be at this point with your new bundle of joy, this will work in your favor. Try not to brush too frequently and stay away from chemical treatments, as these can tug hair out even more. Loose braid hairstyles like French braids or loose tousled buns are easy to do and require little to no styling commitment on a day-to-day basis from a new mom. And not to mention, babies love to pull hair, don’t they? These hairstyles are already pulled away from the face, and won’t be the center of attention for the oh-so-curious kiddo.
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. Suave Keratin Infusion Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner will help restore the health of your hair.