Many new moms panic when their hair starts falling out in clumps, somewhere between three and six months after giving birth. Suddenly, all those grandma stories about bad teeth and losing hair after pregnancy look so real, and you freak out.
Normally, about 85 – 95 percent of our hair is in the growing stage and the rest is in the resting stage. After that stage, the remaining hairs falls out. The average head loses 100 hairs a day, but as they don’t fall out all at once, you barely even notice them. During pregnancy, increased levels of estrogen prolong the growing stage, thus keeping your hair from falling out. Have you noticed that your hair became thicker and more lustrous? But as the hormones drop back to normal, a lot more hair follicles enter the resting stage and all those extra hairs start falling out. That’s postpartum hair loss. The phenomenon is pretty common, affecting 40%-50% of women, and it’s hard to say why some women will experience hair loss and others won’t. Some women experience hair loss with one pregnancy, but not with another. It is usually more obvious among women with long hair, but not always. Sometimes, it might be that longer hairs are just easier to notice, that’s all.
So don’t panic, you won’t need a wig. It’s just that your hair is getting back to normal. Breastfeeding may postpone the shedding until you wean (fully or partially), but it will happen. Hair loss should diminish three – four months after you give birth. Within six to twelve months, your hair should be thick and shiny as it used to be.
If you feel that you’re experiencing excessive hair loss during pregnancy, you may have vitamin or mineral deficiency. After pregnancy, especially when it’s accompanied by other symptoms, hair loss could be a sign of PPT (a postpartum thyroiditis, a painless, usually temporary inflammation of the thyroid gland that occurs within a year after 5% to 10% of all pregnancies). In both cases, consult your doctor.
Meanwhile, there are some things you can do, both to help your hair grow back thick and healthy and just to feel better about your looks:
Eat well. Your hair (and body) needs all the nutrients you can give it, lots of fruits and vegetables. Vitamin supplements won’t hurt you either. Take vitamins B, C, Zinc and Biotin (Vitamin H), Omega 3 and iron (consult your doctor regarding the dosage).
To prevent excess hair loss after pregnancy, be gentle with your hair. Don’t shampoo too often (that doesn’t mean leaving it dirty, of course) and comb gently, especially when it’s wet. Don’t pull you hair into tight hairdos (braids, pigtails) and try to avoid treatments such as blow-drying, curling, flat irons, straightening, perms and dying until the shedding stops. And, consider a shorter haircut, easier to take care of in those first months with the baby when you barely have time to eat and sleep, not to speak of shampooing and combing a long mane of hair.