Post Partum Hair Loss
Another lovely side effect of pregnancy and childbirth… Postpartum hair loss!
If you’re finding a ton of strands on your pillow or clogging the shower drain, you’re not imagining things…no, you are not crazy, you are just a new mom. Yes, hair loss is one of the wonderful side effects of pregnancy and childbirth. How come? Well, as you know I love to read, so here is a quick summary of what is going on in your body.
Regularly, your hair goes through 4 phases: growth, transition, resting and shedding (as you are guessing these are not the technical names, but I thought you wouldn’t mind), and in any given point in time you have all 4 phases going on in your head. It is estimated that about 90% of the hairs on your head are growing, while the remaining 10% is mostly going towards the resting phase and it is normal to shed from 50-100 hairs a day. A HUNDRED HAIRS A DAY??? I know it sounds like a lot, but your hair has always been in this constant cycle of growing and shedding and you’ve managed to keep a full head of hair all along.
During pregnancy, this perfectly balanced cycle changes as your hormone levels go through the roof. Funny enough, estrogen makes the growth phase longer, so less of your hair is entering the transition, resting, and shedding phases. That’s why during pregnancy you have a beautiful, luscious full hairline. After birth, your hormone levels go back to normal and hence, the stretch of the growth cycle is out the window, leaving you with extra hair to shed. Hair will remain in the resting stage for around 3 months and then BAM!!! Right around the time when you are getting out of the fourth trimester odyssey the shedding starts (for most women) and you feel you are going bald. Well, now you know you are not… you are just shedding cumulatively what you held on during your pregnancy.
In theory, by 9-12 months post-partum your hair growth cycles should go back to pre-pregnancy state, and you’ll have beautiful hair for your baby’s first year pictures (yeiii). But, if you feel shedding is by no means slowing down, or you are having bald patches in your head, it would be worth talking to your healthcare provider. When accompanied by other symptoms, major hair loss after pregnancy could be a sign of postpartum thyroiditis.
Another way to see it is like a doctor was explaining to me… we are still animals and nature has its reasons: while pregnant, growing phase takes longer so you have more hair to keep you and your bump warm, and after giving birth you shed to do your infant’s nest… sounds kind of motherly and cute, but not when you have the shower drain clogged, and you find hairs everywhere.
There is nothing we can do to prevent it, but there are things you can do to minimize shedding, or at least not contribute more to it. I can share with you some tips that have helped me immensely:
1. Good nutrition, sounds obvious… but really? With a newborn you might not be finding much time to eat calmly specially if you have another kid. Since hair is largely made of protein consider focusing on healthy proteins. Also, a good aid is to continue taking your prenatal vitamins. Yes, I know they say pre-natal and you are after birth, but in any case, they help. Vitamins A, B12, C, D, and E, as well as iron and folic acid, will help with your hair growth.
2. Be gentle with your hair… I know it sounds common sense, but sometimes we forget how fragile it is. Quick haircare tips: use high quality shampoo and conditioner (the less chemicals the better), avoid hot water when washing your hair, and towel dry gently when you are done. Hair is more vulnerable when wet, so consider brushing before hoping on to the shower, and detangle with a thick tooth comb with detangler or in the shower with conditioner on. And finally, try to avoid heat styling tools and blow drying your hair. Ohhh I forgot… because more likely you will need your hair up, I advise you to use scrunchies or barrettes, instead of rubber bands — and don't pull hair into tight ponytails… better the mom bun.
3. Try and reduce your stress levels… are you kidding? Reduce stress with a baby that doesn’t sleep and a clingy toddler??? Easier said than done, I know… But this goes a long way! What I find particularly useful is to do post-natal exercise (sometimes yoga) with my baby. She enjoys seeing me in plank on top of her, while I make weird faces of how hard it is… she laughs (it is cute how she still finds me amazing even when l’m sweating)
So, I hate to be the bearer of bad news… there is nothing you can do to prevent after-birth hair loss. For the majority of new moms shedding is just part of the process that your body naturally goes through post-partum as everything goes back to normal (assuming there isn’t an underlying issue like a thyroid problem). Good news? It will come to an end before your lil’ one can run away from you. Also, it might be the opportunity you were waiting for to do an extreme makeover!!!
Disclaimer: This is not professional advice. This is me sharing my personal experience.
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