What to do if you’re losing hair after giving birth
Aug. 3, 2020
It’s common for women to lose hair after birth. Find out what causes post-partum hair loss and how you can prevent it.
In the months after you’ve given birth to your newborn, you may notice that you’re shedding hair like there’s no tomorrow. It might be seem scary, but if it helps, you’re not alone. In fact, between 30%-60% of women experience post-partum hair loss, which is thankfully a temporary phenomenon.
What causes postpartum hair loss?
During pregnancy, many women will find that their skin and hair quality improve. This is due to the sharp increase in your estrogen and progesterone levels – especially during the second trimester. Estrogen is a hormone that can control your skin, sebaceous glands and hair follicle growth. Normally, your hair follicles will follow a repetitive pattern of growth, rest and fall, leading to you shed about 50-100 hairs a day. But the increased levels of estrogen instruct your hair follicles to stay in the growth phase, meaning that they will grow faster and shed less.
Once you’re out of pregnancy, however, your estrogen levels will plummet towards pre-pregnancy levels. Compounded with high cortisol levels, and in some cases, a thyroid hormone imbalance as well, hair follicles will be knocked out of the growth phase and into the resting phase, leading to hair loss. It doesn’t help that your lifestyle may have become unpreventably stressful, either. Looking after your newborn could deprive you of sleep, and you may find that your mealtimes are out of sync, and you perhaps didn’t even pay attention to what you ate! These external stress factors can all conspire to lead to more hair loss.
There are two pieces of good news. The first is that the hair loss is actually caused by new hair growing from the scalp. So it’s not so much hair loss as it is hair replacement. The second is that there are known ways to prevent post-partum hair loss from happening. Because the hair loss typically only happens three to four months after pregnancy, if you act early you may be able to substantially mitigate or even prevent hair loss.
How to prevent postpartum hair loss
Be extra gentle to your hair
Your hair follicles are fragile when they’re in the resting phase of the hair follicle, also called the telogen phase. To prevent accidentally dislodging your hair, be extra careful and gentle when brushing, washing and drying. Also avoid hairstyles like the bun, which can pull your hair, resulting in tension that could cause your hair to fall. Opt for a silk pillow case, which can reduce friction between your hair and the pillow.
Maintain a healthy diet
A healthy, balanced diet is always important but especially so during this period. Cravings and changes in your nutrition could cause nutrient imbalance, leading to energy from food being diverted away from non-essential areas like your hair and to your essential organs like the heart, brain, liver and lungs. To minimize the impact from nutrition, consume a lot of protein, fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens.
Get nutritional support
Postnatal supplements could actually help because they contain the essential vitamins and minerals that could help prevent hair loss. While this is no means a food replacement, it certainly helps if your lifestyle prevents you from preparing every meal and eating on time.
Relax with some me time
With your newborn, it’s difficult to get some respite from the feeding and crying. However, do make sure you reserve some downtime just for yourself. When you’re stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released, which can impact your hair cycle, exacerbating the hormonal changes after birth. If you’re finding it hard to get some me time, try a massage, meditation or postnatal yoga.
Keep your hair short
Shorter hair is easier to manage, but it’s also practical for postpartum hair loss because it can help mask thinner hair, and also hide the growth of new hairs that have begun to grow in, blending it in with your existing hair to give it a more natural look.
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.
How did you combat post-partum hair loss? Share your experiences of how you managed your hair and your life below!
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