The Survivor’s Guide to Postpartum Hair Loss

Sep. 16, 2020
After you’ve given birth to your child, apart from getting back in shape and readjusting to the changes to your hormones, there’s one more thing you might have to deal with: hair loss. It might be seem scary, but if it helps, you’re not alone. Every year, about 30%-60% of women experience post-partum hair loss, but before you start worrying, it is just a temporary phenomenon, and there are many things you can do to help your hair regrow faster.
What causes postpartum hair loss?
During pregnancy, there’s a sharp increase in your estrogen and progesterone levels, which often leads to noticeably better skin and hair quality. 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.
However, once you’re out of pregnancy, your estrogen levels will drop sharply down to 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. Add to that the trials of being a new mother – you’re sleep deprived and mealtimes come irregularly – these stress factors all add up to exacerbate the 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. 
Treatments for postpartum hair loss
Change your diet
More so now than ever, consume a lot of protein, fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens. You can also try adding fish or flaxseed oils, which contain omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9, to give you healthier hair. Do everything you can to make sure you maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
Take nutritional supplements
While they can’t replace proper meals, postnatal supplements could actually help because they contain the essential vitamins and minerals that could help prevent hair loss. Look out for vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and zinc in particular.
Try meditation, yoga or other calming activities 
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.
Treat your hair with extra care
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.
Wear your hair short
Wearing your hair short (the “mom-do”) not only makes it easier to manage, it also helps 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.
Try some new hair products 
You can also add more texture to your hair and increase volume by using a dry shampoo from time to time – try almond oil or castor oil, which are known ingredients that stimulate hair growth. Alternatively, give peppermint oil a try – just add it to your shampoo to improve shine.
Whatever you choose to do, stay calm and carry on. This is a temporary condition you’re your hair will grow back once your hormones have rebalanced. Share your experiences of how you managed your hair and your hormones during postpartum hair loss below!
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