Losing hair at any time of your life is always a fairly alarming occurrence, especially when it happens suddenly and unexpectedly. Postpartum hair loss in particular is confusing and worrying for many new mothers who do not fully understand what is happening.
To help ease your concerns, we’ve put together this article to help explain both what postpartum hair loss is and how to best handle it.
What is Postpartum Hair Loss
When you or someone you know is diagnosed with “postpartum hair loss”, this means (quite literally) that you are losing hair after a pregnancy.
This can occur as either a thinning or shedding of hair. Depending on your individual situation, your hair could be shedding severely or very little or somewhere in between.
Don’t be alarmed, though: this hair loss is normal for many new mothers.
On average, we lose about one hundred hairs from our heads every single day. During pregnancy, however, the growing and staying period for these hairs is longer due to the heightened hormone levels that we experience while carrying a baby.
As a result, our hair is often lusher and more full during pregnancy. On the downside, once we’ve given birth those hormone levels drop and postpartum hair loss will set in, causing you to shed all that extra hair that you’ve accumulated during your pregnancy.
This post-pregnancy hair loss occurs more quickly and in larger amounts than normal hair loss, but the overall hair loss doesn’t normally add up to more than you would have lost over a normal nine-month period: it’s simply more alarming to deal with because it happens all at once.
How Long Does Postpartum Hair Loss Last
Postpartum hair loss can begin at anytime once you’ve given birth, but typically occurs three to six months after giving birth. Usually, this hair loss will last only a few months, but there are reported cases of it lasting almost a full year.
How long the process lasts depends on a variety of factors such as your dropping estrogen levels, how often you brush your hair, how often you wash your hair, what hair care products you’re using, what nutrients and vitamins you’re ingesting, and so on.
How to Handle Postpartum Hair Loss
While there is no real way to prevent postpartum hair loss, we have compiled a few pieces of advice to consider that might make the process easier to handle.
- Eat Healthy – Make sure to eat a wide variety of vegetables, nuts, and other protein-rich foods. It’s very important to eat nutritional foods that will help your body get back to normal quickly and encourage healthy hair growth.It’s also highly recommended that you take some sort of vitamin supplement during this time; there are many post-pregnancy vitamins available that can help, and several prenatal varieties that might also be beneficial in the short-term.
- Avoid Going to the Stylist – Harsh or dramatic hair treatments could have adverse effects on your hair during this postpartum period, so try to hold off on visiting your salon for a few months until the postpartum hair loss has stopped.Also try to avoid using at-home hair dryers, curling irons, and straighteners during this period if possible; the heat will cause additional damage to your hair and it’s better for the overall health of your hair if you don’t use any of these styling tools until after your postpartum shedding has stopped.
- Use Different Hair Care Products – Instead of your regular shampoo and conditioner, try products that will help promote hair health and growth. You might consider volumizing or vitalizing shampoos and conditioners, which typically contain additional nutrients for your hair and scalp.
- Get a Hair Cut – While this might seem slightly contradictory to our second tip, many new mothers highly recommend cutting your hair short.Not only does this make dealing with postpartum hair loss easier simply due to having less hair to brush and wash, it’s actually safer for your baby if you have shorter hair because of how long hairs can become tangled and wrapped around your baby’s limbs and cut off blood flow.
- Consult a Doctor – As with any medical issue, always make sure to speak with your personal physician if you feel uncomfortable with how your body is functioning.
If you feel like your hair loss is excessive or are experiencing additional symptoms, make sure to schedule a check-up. It’s rare, but there are some postpartum medical conditions that have hair loss as a symptom, and it’s always better to be safe and get examined by a medical professional.
All in all, the main thing to remember is that postpartum hair loss is a perfectly normal experience for almost all new mothers. It’s frustrating to deal with, but it happens to almost all of us and there is rarely any true cause for alarm.
Just make sure to eat healthy foods, use nutrient-rich hair care products, and (most of all) be patient: your hair will return to normal within a few months, and then this period of hair loss will be nothing more than a memory.