Postpartum Hair Loss: Why It Happens and How to Minimize It

I can't be going bald, can I?

postpartum hair loss

You finally can creep away from your sleeping little one to get a shower. Awww… That shampoo massage you are trying to rush through but savor feels so good. Okay… now hurry! He/she is going to wake up any second!

Then you notice it. All that hair on the drain cover.

What? Am I losing my hair? You don’t have time to worry with it right now, but as you brush your hair, you notice even more hair than normal in the brush.

You look around the floor of your bathroom (on the off chance that you had the time/courage to blow dry your hair without waking your sleeping baby boss) and see that there are strands everywhere.

Oh my goodness! Am I really losing my hair? Yes. Yes, you are. Don’t worry; it’s completely normal.

What to Check

Dr. Donnica Moore says the first thing her consulting firm asks clients who have this complaint is, “Are you complaining about it because of what you see in the shower or what you’re seeing on your head?” If there are true bald spots, consult your physician. Otherwise, it is completely normal.

Stages of Hair Growth/Loss

Here’s the deal:  the American Academy of Dermatology refers to it as excessive hair shedding. Why is it happening? It is because of falling estrogen levels. Trichologist Dr. Kari Williams says it is called telogen effluvium. It’s only temporary. Most women have their luscious locks or the regular fullness of their hair return by the child’s first birthday.

It’s really quite interesting. Normally, your hair cycle goes through the phases of growth and loss. Dr. Williams states that the active growing phase is called anagen and can last up to three years. Then the resting/shedding phase usually lasts about three months.

The telogen hairs rest in the follicle until the new growth pushes them out essentially. During pregnancy, because of an overabundance in nutrients and hormones, a large amount of hair comes in at once. Then about three to six months after the baby is born, certain stressors activate larger amounts of hair to go through this telogen stage.

Before pregnancy, 90% of your hair is in the growing phase while the other 10% are resting. Once pregnant, the process your hair cycles through is slowed down. Yes, you get thicker, shinier, even bouncier hair.

But when the baby and the placenta are delivered, that extra source of nutrients is gone. That’s when a good amount of your hair moves into the resting phase and begins to fall off.

Come On; Get A Rhythm

Your hair is getting back into its rhythm. Other factors that are often associated with motherhood may contribute to hair loss: lack of sleep, new responsibilities, juggling things with a new baby, etc.

To keep your hair healthy, make sure you are taking care of your body. Eat well and take your prenatals until you can move up to a more complete vitamin routine. Try limiting how often you may shampoo and style your hair, being careful to avoid overexposure to damaging products and/or tools.

Quick Fixes?

Sure. Here you go:

  • Buy volumizing shampoo.
  • Avoid conditioning shampoos or heavy conditioners that will weigh your hair down.
  • Conditioners for fine hair will nourish the hair without it sticking to your head.
  • Try a new hairstyle. Ask your stylist for ways to make your hair look fuller. Even Adele did it!

A Bit More In Depth

Dr. Oz also provides 7 hair loss solutions for the every day:

  • Load up on beauty nutrients. Think protein – eggs, fish; omega 3s – wild salmon, tuna, trout; vitamin B dense foods – fruits and veggies, beans, chicken or turkey breast.
  • Manage stress. Breathe. Exercise. Sleep.
  • Take care of your scalp. Adequate blood supply and circulation keep hair follicles strong. Foods that help with this are those rich in vitamin E (almonds, walnuts, raspberries, strawberries), vitamin C (kiwi and broccoli), and zinc (walnuts).
  • Try biotin supplements. Less commonly known as vitamin H, biotin is included in the Vitamin B complex vitamins—helping your body metabolize fats and proteins.
  • Get your hormone levels checked. Well, he does recommend this, but it’s pretty much a given that your hormones may be all over the place. Feel free to bypass this suggestion.
  • Try a new style. Adele’s do is talking to you. Talk to your stylist about adding volume and bounce to make your hair appear thicker.
  • Cut back on hot tool use. Thinner hair tends to break easier. Adding a high maintenance styling regimen will leave your hair damaged and add to premature breakage. Even tight ponytails or old elastics will increase damage to your hair.

Caution! Caution! Red Alert!

BE AWARE! All of this hair falling out may result in a hair tourniquet—your hair falls out and wraps around a toe, finger or other precious baby extremity so tightly that it cuts off circulation or causes an infection.

Okay. This can be rare, but better safe than sorry, right? If you find one, gently unwind the hair or release it with some small scissors.

Take Care of Yourself

So, yes. Yes, your hair is falling out. Once your body regulates itself and balance is restored, your hair will flow once again.

Eat well, exercise, drink plenty of water. Meditate or pray or do yoga. Do something to have time for yourself.

It’s hard. I’m a single mom; I get it. But make yourself a priority. You have to take care of yourself to be able to take care of your little one. I know. Everyone says that, but that is how it works.

But what if my hair doesn’t come back? Talk to your doctor about it after a year. The hair loss peaks when your baby is 4 months old. You can also check in with your dermatologist to talk about options.

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