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Can dieting after having a baby increase hair loss?


While many Mom's were worried about selecting the perfect car seat and crib for their newborns arrival.  I spent my nights researching how to lose the postpartum weight as quickly as possible.  

While my mother in law made sure to inform me that it took 9 months to gain the "baby-weight"; and I should allow myself a reasonable amount of time to work it off, I was unwilling to be reasoned with. 

I didn't care what people usually did, I was a victim of a society that used words like "snap-back" and "snatched postpartum body".  I was pregnant at the same time as Kate Hudson and Kim Kardashian.  The world is unforgiving to postpartum women. 

Does dieting after pregnancy cause hair loss?

Does dieting after having a baby cause hair loss?

To answer the question above, let's address dieting in general affecting hair loss. 

Hair loss after weight-loss (regardless of if pregnant or not) is usually called Telogen Effluvium.

Basically the body experiences stress physically, or changes are made to nutrition intake, and that signals the hair follicles to move into the inactive stage.

This is literally the same name for postpartum hair loss in which a significant event (giving birth/ and a drop in estrogen and progesterone ) causes hair loss approximately 3 months after delivery. Again, called Telogen Effluvium. 

Ok, I'm no doctor or scientist but I'm putting two and two together in my mind, and I now have a colliding force causing hair loss for me.  Perfect. 

"But Postpartum Hair Loss is just Hormonal"

Anyone that tells you postpartum hair loss is simply hormonal and there is nothing you can do about it, I'm looking at you and rolling my eyes.  You know how many factors go into why our hair sheds more significantly after birth? 

I'm talking about:

  • surviving on stretches of maybe 2-3 hours of sleep
  • being food supply for new life we created
  • worrying about losing the baby weight and maybe actually exercising or dieting
  • lacking any amount of self-care (possibly showering)
  • neglecting consistent meals 
  • caring 24/7 for an often crying or needy little one

All of those which add up to increased stress, one of the most common causes of hair shedding in women, pregnant or not. The list could easily go on... 

Postpartum hair loss is a combination of situations and deficiencies, far greater than simply hormones dropping. 

OK, so will losing the baby weight cause more hair loss? 

Short answer-  Yes, potentially.  Again so many factors come into play.  Speed in which you lose weight can have a big impact.  Also, are you being restrictive in your dieting? Are you getting enough of the key vitamins your hair needs? What about protein? Basically, what is your weight loss plan and will it add to more deficiencies?

This might have been a good time to look into talking to a nutritionist, but since I don't exactly have a disposable income after throwing money at size 2 diapers, I've decided to let google be my guide. 

How to Eat When Trying to Lose Weight After Having a Baby: 

After having a baby the foods you eat directly affect how healthy and strong your baby grows, so this is extremely important to keep in mind when thinking through any plans to achieve weight loss after baby. 

Two vitally important takeaways from my google hole research is (if breastfeeding): 

1. Losing weight too quickly can affect your breast milk supply

2. Do NOT take diet pills. More often than not, they contain harmful drugs that can be passed on to your baby through breast milk. 

Ok, with that cleared up let's hit the best things to consume:

1. Drink Water: Drink a lot and drink it often, especially if breastfeeding - you need more liquids. Water can actually be really helpful for weight loss.  After all it is 100% calorie-free, and it helps you burn up more calories. So drink up! 

2. Eat Protein: Protein rich foods help you recover from childbirth, keep your body strong, and one of the best things to add to your diet when trying to minimize hair loss as hair follicles are made mostly of protein.  Biotin is essential for the production of a hair protein called keratin which is why biotin is often recommended to help with postpartum hair loss. 

3. Limit Junk-Food: You know that bag of chips, cookies, or fries that is easy to grab on the go or snack on while home with a new baby? You'd be surprised how quickly they can add up and make losing weight after birth so much harder.  For me it's always been out of site out of mind and the it's so much easier not to be tempted by those sweet or salty snacks if they aren't in my kitchen or at work. 

Also it should be noted, while there isn't a ton of research connecting high-sugar diets with hair loss. Experts will say that sugar promotes inflammation.  Basically when you eat sugar or carbs, the sugar floods the blood, causing a spike of insulin and androgens, which bind to hair follicles and cause the hair to fall out. 

 4. Take your Vitamins: When trying to lose weight after having a baby, many women go for more restrictive forms of dieting.  Many of these diets do not provide enough essential nutrition to support hair health and growth.  In fact, doing some of these diets (without throwing in the fact you are in the 4th trimester) has been known to cause hair shedding.

In fact, two to three months after many diets have been known to result in hair shedding similar to that which occurs after having a baby.  Additionally, weight loss of approx. 15 lbs. or more of body weight, often results in noticeable hair loss. 

Ensuring your body and hair is provided with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to grow strong and healthy is often over-looked. While some women continue taking a prenatal, it is often not formulated for hair health but more for baby nutrition and health while breastfeeding. It's always best to check with a healthcare provider but many recommend adding a hair/skin/nails vitamin to help support the hair more specifically. Our favorite being The Baby Blues Postpartum Hair Vitamin formulated to replenish vitamins needed to promote healthy hair growth, health, strength, and less shedding after having a baby. 

Moms Are Superheroes

This is the bottom line.  Moms are amazing! They really are.  Unfortunately society hasn't made it easy on us.  With an expected immediate "bounce-back" in the bod department, and goddess voluminous hair as an expectation, it's easy to feel like we fall short.

Unfortunately extreme dieting or taking on the baby weight too fast can actually add more unwelcome side effects to the whole 4th trimester period. Side effects like an increase in how much hair shedding occurs, or how long your hair shed lasts.   

Best to be gentle on yourself and take your time Mama. Ensure you have a solid postpartum diet, exercise, and nutrition plan. I know, easier said than done. 


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