I gave birth and now I’m losing hair – what should I do?

Aug. 3, 2020
You might be worrying about the amount of hair you’re losing after childbirth. Worry not – postpartum hair loss is very normal. Read on to find out what causes it and how you can treat it.
Your hormones change during pregnancy and after birth
People often call the act of birth giving the miracle of life. But in actual fact, pregnancy is kind of a miracle in and of itself. The only thing that’s changing isn’t just your bulging belly, but also an intricate system of hormonal switches that adapt your body for carrying your developing infant and prepare your body for birth giving. 
During pregnancy, you may have noticed that your hair and skin look utterly fabulous. But the very cause of this is what makes you lose hair after giving birth – also called postpartum hair loss. 
When you first became pregnant, you’ll go through several hormonal spikes. The first is in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This is such a reliable event that it is the levels of hCG that pregnancy test kits measure to tell you whether or not you’ve successfully conceived. As you progress through pregnancy, and especially during the second trimester, there’s a spike in estrogen, progesterone, oxytocin and prolactin. Estrogen in particular, has a fortifying effect on your hair, skin and nails. Add to that the fact that your blood volume increases by as much as 50%, no wonder you’re emanating that pregnancy glow.
But all this changes again right after labour. As soon as 24 hours after you’ve given birth, your levels of estrogen and progesterone plummet to pre-pregnancy levels. And that’s where postpartum hair loss begins to set in. 
Hair loss is caused by hormone levels rebalancing after birth
Estrogen during pregnancy maintains your hair in growth phase, encouraging it to grow more rapidly and shed less. Once estrogen levels return to normal levels, hair follicles exit the growth phase and go into the so-called resting phase, which is when hair is shed and replaced with new hair.
When exactly postpartum hair loss happens depends from person to person. But in most cases, it peaks around 3 to 4 months after birth and gradually stops after that. You may be brushing out clumps of hair at a time, but postpartum hair loss isn’t actually all that scary – the amount of hair you lose isn’t more than what you would’ve lost over the course of the 9 months when you were pregnant. It just seems like a lot because you’re now losing it all in one go. In some cases though, postpartum hair loss can continue for up to 12 months after birth, in which case you may want to consult your dermatologist to seek medical treatment. 
Although there isn’t too much you can do to stop postpartum hair loss, you can use these treatments to at least not accelerate the hair loss and to give your hair a fuller, healthier look. 
Wear your hair short and be gentle
If you’re losing hair already, the last thing you want is for you to accelerate hair loss. So keeping your hair short and keeping styling to a minimum is ideal, because not only is short hair easier to manage, it also prevents you exerting too much tension on your hair, which could cause your hair to fall. Short hair can also mask thinning hair so it’s less obvious you’re losing hair. When brushing, do so gently, and treat yourself to a silk pillow case, which can minimize tugging on your hair when you sleep.
Eat a balanced, healthy diet
You’ll want all the nutrients you can to keep your hair healthy and strong. Fruits, veg and protein are an absolute must, but you can be extra sophisticated by including dark leafy greens, which give you vitamin C and iron, sweet potatoes and carrots, which contain beta carotene, eggs because of the vitamin D and fish for omega-3 and magnesium. If you’re finding it hard to look after your nutrition because you’re so busy, don’t be shy to take vitamins to supplement your main meals. It’s not a bad idea to continue taking your prenatal vitamins after giving birth.
Use hair products that can add volume and fortify
Look for shampoos that are natural and light, and contain ingredients like keratin, which fortifies hair, or baobab, which helps hydrate your hair. You can also add more texture to your hair and increase volume by using a dry shampoo from time to time.
Although losing a lot of hair may be a bit distressing, be proud that this Is a sign that you’re now officially a mother! At the end of the day, it’s not how much hair you have, but how you wear it that matters. How did you wear your hair after pregnancy and how did it make you feel? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!
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