Dealing with postpartum hair loss – Cleveland Clinic
Your hair grows in cycles. While some of the hair on your head is actively growing, others relax in a dormant phase. At some point, the hair falls out during the resting phase and new hair sprout in its place.
The Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit, academic medical center. Advertising on our website supports our mission. We do not endorse any non-Cleveland Clinic product or service. politics
At different times in your life, this cycle changes. For example, more hair stays in the growth phase during pregnancy. This means your hair often looks fantastic – thick, full and healthy.
After birth, however, there can be a rude awakening. Now that your baby is out, so are your shiny locks.
Pregnancy and postpartum hair changes
When you are pregnant, your estrogen levels will continue to rise before peaking around your period give birth. This leads to several changes in your body, including your hair growth cycle.
“During pregnancy, you don’t lose as much hair as you used to,” she says Ob/Gyn Erica Newlin, MD. “You may find yourself getting very luscious, thicker hair.”
But after the birth and in the time thereafter, a steady decline can be expected estrogen levels. This means that those extra hairs will finally – all at once – come out in the postpartum period.
“After delivery, your body suddenly catches up, and so the hair loss can be much more intense,” explains Dr. newlin.
This intensity even has a name: telogen effluvium. “In this early stage, you may sometimes find yourself pulling out a handful of hair in the shower,” notes Dr. newlin. “For people with longer hair, it can be quite noticeable.”
How long does hair loss last after childbirth?
You will usually start experiencing postpartum hair loss between one and six months after birth. Fortunately, this condition is not permanent. While hair loss can last up to 18 months, most people find that their hair springs back much sooner.
“We generally see hair loss within the first year after delivery,” says Dr. newlin. “The loss peaks in the fourth month and then tapers off.”
How to prevent hair loss after childbirth
Unfortunately, since it has a hormonal cause, you cannot prevent hair loss after childbirth. The only treatment for hair loss after pregnancy is patience.
Treatment of hair loss after childbirth
While you can’t prevent postpartum hair loss, you have an opportunity to simplify the experience while you wait.
Keep taking your prenatal vitamins
Folic acid is a complex B vitamin that offers several health benefits, including protecting embryos during the early months of pregnancy. This is why taking a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid, the synthetic form of folic acid, is so important.
After the birth, however, you should not throw away the vitamins just yet. “Folic acid can help with continued hair and nail growth,” advises Dr. newlin.
Change your hairstyle and products
If a newborn (cute) is taking up your time, chances are you won’t have time to spend hours on your hair. But think about your hair care routine anyway.
“Think about how you style your hair,” says Dr. newlin. “Don’t put a lot of heat or chemicals on your hair. If your thinning hair bothers you, try a new haircut or invest in a volumizing shampoo.”
Stay away from tight ponytails
Avoid tight ponytails or hairstyles that pull your hair excessively. “Staying away from these hairstyles can definitely help reduce hair loss,” says Dr. newlin.
Avoid herbal supplements
In general, it’s good to talk to your doctor before you start taking any herbal supplements. This is especially true – and important – during the postpartum period.
“You can really spend a fortune on herbal supplements, and there’s not a lot of evidence that they work,” says Dr. newlin. “There is no magic cure-all out there. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, be sure to check before you take anything, as there’s a lot of variation in how well tested herbal supplements are.”
Can postpartum hair loss or hair changes be a sign of a problem?
After the birth, your life will never be the same. Your hair may always be a bit thinner now than it was before you were a parent. Although it will grow normally.
You may also be surprised to see hair growing in places other than your head. During pregnancy, increased levels of androgen hormones can also cause more hair to grow on your stomach or face. Fortunately, this extra fluff usually disappears around six months after birth. Waxing or shaving this hair is a solution if it bothers you.
While postpartum hair loss is normal, conditions such as thyroid problems (hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism) or anemia can cause hair loss. If you feel like you’re losing a fair amount of hair with no end in sight, talk to your doctor about it to rule out other problems.