After giving birth, there are a lot of things you expect to lose. Some, like excess weight, you may hope to shed rapidly; others, like a full night’s sleep, you may really struggle with. One thing you may not expect to lose though, is your hair. An estimated 40-50% of women experience greater-than-normal hair loss in the postpartum period, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Like many processes in your body, hair growth is influenced by hormones. Typically, at any one time your hormones will stimulate about 90% percent of your hair to grow, whilst 10% of your hair follicles go through a resting phase. This phase of inactivity usually lasts for about 2-3 months, after which, the resting follicles will fall and new hairs will grow in their place. Since you only lose a small fraction of hair at a time, the loss is usually not noticeable.
Pregnancy, however, can change this normal cyclical pattern of growth and rest. The increased hormones in your body mean that your hair grows at a faster rate and remains in the resting phase longer than usual. This is why some women find their hair appears thicker and fuller during pregnancy.
After you have given birth, hormone levels start to decline and the extra hair that did not fall out whilst you were pregnant, starts to shed in greater quantities than you would normally see. Whilst this is nature’s way of helping your hair growth to return to normal, and you are only shedding hair that would normally have been lost in the preceding months, seeing lots of hair come out at a time can, understandably, cause some concern.
Signs of normal postpartum hair loss:
- Noticing more hairs than usual in your hairbrush
- Hair loss peaking at around four months after giving birth
- Accelerated hair loss stopping by your baby’s first birthday.
When to talk to your doctor:
- If you have hair-free patches of scalp that are approximately 25 mm in size
- If you feel the loss is excessive and not improving with time.
In addition to following a healthy diet, there are other steps you can take to reduce hair loss after pregnancy. These include avoiding extremely tight hairstyles that can accelerate hair loss, such as cornrows, braids, and hair rollers that are pulled too tightly.
- American Academy of Dermatology
- Hair Loss Common After Childbirth. American Pregnancy Association
- Hair Loss & Pregnancy. KidsHealth
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