Postpartum Hair Loss: What to Expect and How to Deal with Hair Loss

Postpartum Hair Loss: What to Expect and How to Deal with Hair Loss

Jun 14 , 2021

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Megan McDonough

Hair loss is tough no matter how you look at it and for new moms, it’s yet another change to get used to. It can feel a little overwhelming to lose so much hair after pregnancy, especially for moms who have struggled with thin hair before.

The good news is postpartum hair loss is temporary and before you know it, your hair will be back to it’s healthy and vibrant self. 

In the meantime, here’s what you can expect about losing some of your hair, as well as style solutions to work with what you’ve got. 

Why am I losing hair?

The short answer? Hormones! During pregnancy, one of these hormone changes actually promotes hair growth. On top of that, it’s preventing hair loss, which is why you’re not shedding or losing hair in the shower like you normally would. Postpartum, your body begins adjusting and your hormones go back to normal. With that comes a drop in estrogen and the return of hair shedding. 

To get a bit more technical, hair growth has two key phases: growth (termed anagen) and resting (telogen). The growth phase can last three years, while the resting phase lasts around three months. “During telogen, the resting hair remains in the follicle until it is pushed out by growth of a new anagen hair.” — from Telogen Effluvium by Elizabeth CW Hughes, MD. 

For non-pregnant women, around 90-percent (give or take) of your hair is in the growth phase at any point in time. However, pregnancy triggers hormonal changes, one of which stimulates the increase in the percentage of hairs in the growth phase. That’s why your hair was so thick and extra lively. You had more hair growing and fewer hairs resting (shedding). 

Another thing to consider is birth control. One Lilu mom shared with us that when she stopped taking birth control pills after pregnancy (because of breastfeeding), her hair changed.  The hormones in many birth control pills also affect our skin and hair. Her hair became oilier at the roots and dryer at the ends. 

Weather may also affect the appearance of your hair. For example, if you move to a warmer or more humid city, your hair may change considerably. This isn’t just true for new moms; anyone’s hair can be affected by changes in weather and also shower water quality and pressure. 

When will it happen? 

Women experience telogen effluvium shortly after giving birth. According to an article on Parents, the process takes about three months and that’s why most people notice shedding around the three-month postpartum mark. 

After not shedding for months on end, it’s going to feel like you’re losing a lot of hair and it can be scary. It’s important to remember that all those hairs that have been sticking to your head for the months of your pregnancy need to come out. You’re basically losing the hair that you would have lost during those months if you weren’t pregnant. 

Will my hair grow back?

Counter to what you might be seeing in the mirror right now, your hair loss is temporary and it will grow back. While everyone’s hormones affect them differently, it’s unlikely that your hair will go from ultra thick to extremely thin. If you already had thin hair pre-pregnancy, your hair loss may appear more pronounced (scroll below for some styling tips). 

The tough part will be waiting. A lot of moms begin to see their hair recover as early as three months, while some don’t see real improvement until six months. On rare occasions, it can take up to a year to feel like your hair is back to normal. 

Words from a Lilu Mom: I've always had a lot of hair and I really like my hair. Yet it has never been quite as full or shiny and luxurious as it was while I was pregnant. Seeing it fall so much and seemingly disappear, even for me, was really tough emotionally. Even a couple of years postpartum I still have these tiny baby hairs growing again near my forehead that drive me insane. Even if I know I haven't lost my hair, it still feels like a big change that can affect the way I see myself and my beauty after pregnancy. — Maria G. 

What can I do to help?

While there’s not a quick fix to preventing postpartum hair loss, eating healthy can ease the degree of severity. Make sure to stock up on all your vitamins and maintain a healthy diet. Good nutrition is a must for new moms and can make a big difference in maintaining strong, healthy hair during this stage. Eat lots of protein and get your iron intake. 

Calcium can also help with hair loss. According to Livestrong, “Calcium also helps with the contraction and relaxation of muscles, nerve signaling, blood clotting and with the secretion of hormones and enzymes.” Hormones like androgens can stimulate hair growth, while enzymes like biotin strengthen the hair that is growing. 

Lilu Mama tip: My doctor recommended I continue to take my prenatal vitamins. It really does help, especially if you are breastfeeding, to have extra nutrients go into your hair and nails, after your body has given so much of them to growing the baby. — Maria G. 

You know your body better than anyone, so if you feel like you’re losing way too much hair or that something is not quite right, we encourage you to see your doctor. They might check for thyroid issues or other health disorders contributing to your hair loss. 

My confidence is crushed. What can I do?

Losing hair can be so emotional, pregnant or not, and can affect how you feel about yourself. As you ‘wait it out’, here are a few styling tips to consider: 

Try a new hairstyle

Sometimes a new cut or color can give us the boost of confidence we need. Instead of trying something DIY style, seek professional advice.  Many stylists recommend getting bangs or going shorter in the front of the hair to better frame the face. 

If your hair is long, they might recommend something shorter to allow your hair to appear thicker. Adding layers around the hair near your face will also add more fullness. Alternatively, if you’re seeing a thin or receding hairline and you have dark hair, lightening the hair there can smooth out the appearance and act as camouflage. 

Switch up your part

A simple fix but it can really change the way you look, especially if your normal part is revealing most of your hair loss. Try a side part if your part is naturally in the middle and vice versa. 

Focus on moisture

Along with nourishing your body from the inside out with a healthy diet and vitamins, invest in some moisture-rich products to maintain hair strength from root to ends. Condition after you shampoo and apply a leave-in conditioner as well. Try to look for products specifically for fine hair, as they will be more gentle. 

Add volume

Look for a volumizing shampoo—a lot of them contain proteins to add vitality to the hair and an appearance of fullness. When you’re conditioning your hair, focus more on the ends than the roots because too much conditioner on the roots can weigh hair down. Mousse is a smart styling solution, as it’s both moisturizing and will add volume. It also won’t damage already delicate hair like a straightener or curler might. 

Avoid putting your hair up

It rips the hair out and causes further hair loss. Try gentle clips and satin scrunchies if you have to put it back. 

Embrace the ‘new’ you

Approaching your postpartum self with curiosity and compassion goes a long way in feeling like yourself again. 

At the same time, we understand that hair loss can affect us on a deeper level. You might feel like you need to reinvent yourself after having a baby and your hair is a big part of your routine and how you see yourself as a woman. It doesn’t help that hair is often sexualized in movies and magazines. So, it’s natural to fear ‘losing’ yourself into motherhood. 

Remember mama, you are beautiful regardless of the state of your hair in postpartum. While this can feel discouraging and even impact your self-esteem, know that it will grow back. Focus on the inner healing, treating your body well, and asking for support where you can get it. 

 

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