What to Do About Hair Loss After Pregnancy
Another thing about pregnancy that nobody warns you about.
It’s one of those pesky things about pregnancy that most people don’t know until they’ve been through it: hair loss after pregnancy is an extremely common ‘side effect’ of having a baby. In fact, up to 50% of women experience this post-partum shedding.
What causes hair loss after pregnancy?
At any given time, approximately 90% of our hair is growing, while the remaining 10% is in a resting phase. Every few months, the hair that’s in the resting phase falls out, and new hair grows in its place. However, during pregnancy, an increased number of hairs go into the resting phase. Pregnancy is a time of dramatically increased hormonal activity; due to these elevated hormone levels, the resting phase hairs don’t fall out. That’s why hair sometimes looks fuller or thicker during pregnancy.
The downside is that when the pregnancy is over, these hormones abruptly recalibrate back to their original levels, with a new mother’s hair being the unfortunate collateral damage of some of these changes. Within three to six months after childbirth, as the body readjusts back to its normal hormone levels, all of those hairs that entered the resting phase during the pregnancy will fall out.
Can I prevent hair loss after pregnancy?
In short, the answer is no. There’s really nothing you can do to reverse the body’s natural cycle, and the hair loss will happen if you are one of those people whose body reacts this way to the drop in estrogen. Although there are vitamins and various treatments that claim to stem the loss, or encourage hair growth, there is very little evidence that they are effective in preventing this shedding process. Unfortunately, if you experience this type of hair loss after pregnancy, you will simply have to make do with the thinner hair until the new hair grows back in.
That said, there is certainly no harm in doing a few things to ensure overall good health, which may have an impact on the body’s ability to bounce back from post-partum changes: maintaining a healthy and balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, ensuring you get enough vitamins either through your diet or with supplements. There is some evidence that shampoos with biotin or silica may be helpful in strengthening hair.
Approximately three months after the hair sheds, the new growth that replaces it will become visible. During this time, it can look awkward because your hair will be different lengths throughout. However, human hair grows at the rate of approximately half an inch per month, so, eventually, those baby hairs will grow out. One hairdresser we spoke to said that many of his clients take about three years after childbirth to regrow the overall hair thickness they had before.
While the loss may not be avoidable, the good news is that it’s part of a cycle whose eventual upside is regrowth. So it may take three years, but this too shall pass.
While some shedding is a completely normal and expected part of having a baby, if you feel your hair loss is extreme, please consult a doctor, as this could be a sign of a vitamin deficiency or other more serious health problem.