Updated: Mar 10, 2022
After giving birth, you'll lose quite a bit of hair. We'll dive into why this happens, how much hair loss is normal, and ask a hairstylist what you can do to look and feel your best.
Were you aware that you'll likely lose a ton of hair after having a baby? It's true! But don't worry, it's temporary.
Most people start noticing pretty significant hair loss happening about 2-3 months postpartum, with the majority of hair loss peaking at about 4 months postpartum.
It’s caused by falling estrogen levels that occur post-pregnancy.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this is not technically hair loss. Rather what you are experiencing postpartum is excessive hair shedding. Humans normally shed their hair on a regular basis, but during pregnancy, this process is suspended by the rising levels of estrogen. This may give your hair the appearance of being extra thick and luxurious when you're expecting, but once you've given birth, the level of estrogen in your body plummets. This postpartum hormone drop triggers a fairly sudden loss of all that hair you've held on to for the past 40 weeks or so. The amount of hair you see in your brush or drain can be startling. But don't despair!
The good news is that this shedding is totally normal, and your hair will return to its previous thickness.
You're really only playing catch up from all the hair you DIDN’T shed when you were pregnant.
Most people see a return to their normal hair thickness and an end to the massive shedding by about the baby’s first birthday. There is nothing you need to do to encourage regrowth or to stop this natural process.
However, if it bothers you, or if your hair loss seems beyond normal to you, here are a few things to consider:
Tip #1 - Go see a hairstylist
Get a new haircut! A good stylist can help you decide on a look that will make your strands seem fuller, and give you suggestions on treatments and products that help keep your thinning tresses healthy. We asked seasoned stylist Holly Dennison, owner of Beauty in HD salon studio in San Diego, California, what she recommends. "A good haircut, Olaplex treatment, and a gloss are a great pick-me-up! The treatment and the gloss work together to heal any damage in your hair and seal the cuticle down, adding more shine and manageability, while the haircut refreshes your ends and makes them stronger." While some people may recommend using thickening and volumizing shampoos and conditioners, be careful and seek the advice of a haircare professional. Some lower-quality products can be drying, or build up on your scalp, further complicating your issues.
"A good haircut, Olaplex treatment, and a gloss are a great pick-me-up! " – Holly Dennison, stylist and owner of Beauty in HD
Tip #2 - Stay nourished and hydrated
Keep taking your prenatal vitamins, and do your best to eat healthy foods that provide your body with the nourishment it needs to repair and replenish itself after pregnancy and childbirth. Drink plenty of fluids. In general, seek out easy-to-prepare, easy-to-digest, nutrient dense, whole foods that you enjoy. Keep a water bottle and healthy snacks that you like to eat easily accessible throughout the day.
Tip #3 - See a dermatologist
If you are concerned that you're losing more hair than other new parents, ask your healthcare provider or seek a consult with a dermatologist. They will be able to determine if your amount of shedding is normal for postpartum, or an indicator that something is off. Sometimes your thyroid gland can have issues with inflammation after having a baby. The condition, called postpartum thyroiditis, affects about 3 out of every 100 people who have given birth, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. While fairly rare, it may be worth looking into.
Tip #4 - Reframe
After experiencing thicker, fuller hair during pregnancy, many people are dismayed at postpartum hair loss. This is understandable. It's another adjustment in a long list of adjustments made after the arrival of your baby. Try to remember that although you can't control the hair loss itself, you can take steps to reframe the way you think about it. This isn't always easy to do, but be kind to yourself. The fact is, your hair will come back, and this hair loss is another bit of evidence that your body has just achieved an incredible accomplishment. You made a human from scratch!
One last thing: Hair Tourniquets on Newborns
Something you need to be aware of is that your shedding hair can wrap around your baby’s little fingers and toes (and even a penis!) and cut off blood supply. This is called a hair tourniquet, and it is extremely important to check for this at diaper changes and throughout your day.
Look for a loose end and unwind the hair gently. If you can’t get the hair off yourself, seek the help of your health care provider right away. A hair tourniquet cuts off oxygen to the area, and this can result is a significant injury to the baby.
Did you know about postpartum hair loss? Tell us in the comments what you've heard or experienced, or leave helpful suggestions for others on how to deal with it.
If you'd like to know about how our postpartum doulas can support you after your baby's arrival, contact Sweet Peas here. We help newborn parents recover from birth and understand their babies.
If you have any questions, you can email us at info@SweetPeasBabyLLC.com
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