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Having a baby can come with some massive shifts to your body. Along with the growing belly, rollercoaster hormones and bizarre cravings, you may have noticed another unexpected change: postpartum hair shedding.
While hair loss after pregnancy is totally normal, it can be frustrating and confusing to try and keep up with your changing body. But don’t fret! Postpartum hair loss is extremely common and usually temporary.
If you’ve noticed more hair than normal in your hairbrush or have developed sparse patches on your hairline after having a baby, then read on to learn how to manage postpartum hair shedding. We recommend checking with your physician if you have any questions or concerns.
Postpartum hair loss, or postpartum alopecia, is categorized as an increase in hair shedding after pregnancy and childbirth. It usually begins within three to four months after giving birth, and is so common that most birthing parents will notice shedding to some extent. While it can feel like a shock to find more hair than usual on your clothes or falling out when you shampoo, and you may be asking, when does postpartum hair loss stop? In most cases, your hair growth will usually return to normal by your baby’s first birthday.
While the hair generally falls out evenly over the entire scalp, it’s often most noticeable around the hairline or part. And this is where those tell-tale postpartum baby hairs will pop up when your hair starts to regrow normally!
While it’s not hard to identify postpartum hair loss, understanding exactly what’s going on can help you to feel more empowered throughout this phase. Essentially, postpartum shedding is a side effect of the drastic hormonal changes and trauma (yes, really!) that occur during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
If you noticed thick, lush hair during pregnancy, you can thank estrogen and progesterone. A rise in these hormones during pregnancy causes the hair to stay in the anagen (growth) phase, allowing the hair to grow longer than usual. After giving birth, however, there is a huge dip in these hormones, causing more of the hair than usual to go into the telogen (shedding) phase.
Drastic changes or shock to the body can also cause a period of hair shedding, a condition called telogen effluvium2.This hair loss can be triggered by traumatic events such as illness, stress, surgery and - you guessed it - childbirth.
The combination of yo-yoing hormones and telogen effluvium is what makes hair loss after birth such a common experience. And while some shedding is generally nothing to be concerned about, it can be uncomfortable and affect your confidence during a time when your body and identity are already going through massive changes.
While it may feel like all of your hair is falling out at once, the most important thing to remember is that it’s just a phase and it won’t last forever. As your body regulates itself and heals after childbirth, your hair growth cycle should return to normal within a year. But in the meantime, there are some postpartum hair loss tips that can potentially reduce hair shedding, boost postpartum hair regrowth, and make this phase a little smoother.
As you lose some of your hair postpartum, it’s important to protect the rest of your hair and any new growth. Avoid heat styling as much as you can to prevent damage, and opt for loose hairstyles that avoid placing any tension on your hair follicles. Detangle gently with a wide-toothed comb to keep your hair smooth and snag-free.
To boost the body and make your hair feel more full, try adding a volumizing shampoo to your wash day routine. These formulas contain ingredients such as protein that coat the hair without weighing it down, making your postpartum hair appear thick and luscious. Try to extend the time between hair washes, too, to prevent over-stripping your scalp of its healthy, natural oils.
While cutting your hair short after having a baby may be a cliched move, the “mom haircut” actually serves a purpose in keeping your hair looking full and bouncy. As your hair sheds postpartum, it can start to appear thin and flat. A cut that is shorter and more blunt can help boost volume, and can double as a confidence boost in this new chapter of your life!
Pregnancy and breastfeeding can deplete essential minerals and nutrients from your body that are needed for normal cell growth3, so it’s important to keep your nutrition up into postpartum. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, protein, healthy fats, nuts and legumes will help fuel your body and provide the building blocks for new, healthy hair growth. Supplementation can also be helpful to replenish vitamins in the body and may help with boosting postpartum hair regrowth. Of course, it’s worth chatting with your doctor about which supplements are best for you.
Having a baby can have a massive impact on your body, but postpartum hair loss doesn’t have to be a cause of concern. While some shedding after birth is inevitable, a healthy and consistent hair care routine after having your baby can help promote postpartum hair regrowth.
While not every new mom will experience postpartum hair loss, it is very common with up to 40-50% of women who have recently given birth.
Postpartum hair loss is affected by the change in hormones during and after pregnancy, so prenatal vitamins won’t prevent postpartum shedding5. However, they may prevent vitamin deficiencies during pregnancy and encourage hair growth after postpartum shedding.
*Talk to your healthcare provider before using any treatments. Do not use ROGAINE® products if you are pregnant or nursing.