You’re a few months postpartum, finally starting to feel like you’re getting the hang of things (maybe, kind of, sorta) and then surprise! Your hair starts falling out! Postpartum hair loss is a very common experience for many women, but can be alarming and frustrating as well. I’ve got you covered with all the details on what it is, and some suggestions on how to manage it.
What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?
People naturally lose small amounts of hair on a daily basis as it goes through it’s growth cycle. We don’t typically notice it because it comes out in such small amounts each day. A lot of women find that during pregnancy, their hair seems thicker or more full, even healthier! This is caused by the increase in hormones, particularly estrogen. The increase actually keeps your hair from falling out as frequently as it usually would.
When you enter the postpartum period your hormone levels drop dramatically. This puts your hair back into it’s regular growth cycle and you’ll go back to losing hair on a daily basis. But during this time your hair seems to make up for lost time and comes out in bigger amounts. Most people agree you’re probably losing the same amount of hair you would have lost anyways over the course of pregnancy, it just seems like more because it’s happening all at once rather than over time.
This can be alarming, when you look at your hairbrush each day, or the shower drain and see large clumps of hair. But rest assured it is completely normal! For most women, this hair loss peaks and is most noticeable around 4 months. You can take comfort knowing that for most women, it will taper off and they’ll notice their regular fullness return around 6 months. For some it may take up to a year to return to normal.
What Can You Do About Postpartum Hair Loss?
Due to the fact that this is primarily caused by your hormones evening out, rather than true hair loss, there aren’t any direct treatments. However, there are a few things you can do in the meantime to avoid making it worse, and help get you through it while it runs its course.
- Use the right products. If the hair loss is making your hair seem thin or flat, pick up some products that are designed to add volume! They will help give the appearance of some more volume amidst the hair shedding process. When applying the conditioner you’ll want to focus it on the ends of your hair rather than the roots to avoid adding unwanted weight to your hair. You’ll also want to stay away from products that are designed to be extra conditioning as they tend to be heavier and will weigh your hair down making it seem flatter/thinner.
- Change up your hairstyle. Chat with your hair stylist and see if they can help you find a style that might better suit your current hair texture. Some styles can make hair seem thicker and more full. A lot of moms like to go with a shorter style to make it easier to manage as well!
- Avoid excess styling, heat and over brushing. All of these thing are going to aggravate your hair, making it more likely to come out even under normal circumstances. So try to let your hair air dry when possible and limit flat iron and curling iron use. Consider waiting on any styling treatments like a perm or straightening treatment during this time. And try to be careful with how aggressively and how frequently you’re brushing your hair. Be gentle and brush minimally!
- Choose a scrunchie, barrette or clip to hold your hair up. These options are better than a hair tie/rubber band because they tug less on your hair.
- Take care of yourself. To keep your hair healthy, you need to stay healthy yourself. You should do your best to eat healthy foods and get some regular exercise. It is also wise to be taking a vitamin such as continuing your prenatal or a multivitamin to be sure your body is getting the proper vitamins and minerals needed for healthy hair! You’ll definitely want one with vitamins b, c, e, iron and zinc. Lastly, I know this is challenging as a new mom, but you’ll also want to try to reduce stress as this can make hair loss worse.
When to Seek Help
Obviously if you have any concerns you’ll want to speak with your provider about those immediately. But a few things that warrant a call to the doctor would be if the hair loss continues after baby’s first birthday, is extremely severe or is accompanied by other symptoms such as weight gain, constipation, dry skin or fatigue. Your primary care provider or dermatologist can help you get to the root of the problem or provide some guidance for dealing with excessive hair loss or thin spots.
Watch for Stray Hairs
So with all of the excess shedding you’re doing there are going to be lots of stray hairs floating around. You’ll want to be mindful that these do not get wrapped around your baby’s fingers or toes. In very rare instances this can lead to a tourniquet injury. I recommend giving them a quick once over before bed or when changing a diaper to make sure they haven’t gotten one twisted up in their tiny hands.
While these tips won’t keep your hair from coming out, they will hopefully provide some relief while your hormones adjust. Remember it’s temporary, and you are not going bald! It’s just another delightful joy of motherhood so hang in there mama!