Being a new mom can be an amazing time, but it can also be quite challenging. Your daily schedule is often turned sideways (and let's face it, your household now runs on your little one's schedule), you probably aren't getting enough sleep, and you don't even remember the last time you took a relaxing, candle-lit soak in the tub… alone.
As if that wasn't enough, according to the American Pregnancy Association, you may be one of the 40-50% of women who will experience significant postpartum hair loss. Up to 90% of new moms will experience it to some degree. So, what exactly is postpartum hair loss and, more importantly, when can you expect it to happen?
Individual experiences around postpartum hair loss can vary, however it usually starts around the same time for most women. To better understand this phenomenon, let's delve into a bit more detail about what it is, when exactly you can expect it to start, how long it might last, and what you can do about it.
What Exactly Is Postpartum Hair Loss?
Postpartum hair loss is a condition that affects women after they have given birth. It is characterized by a sudden loss of hair, which can be extensive and sometimes permanent. There are many factors that contribute to postpartum hair loss, including hormonal changes, stress, and fatigue.
Estrogen, the hormone responsible for hair growth, significantly affects hair loss and shedding. Prior to giving birth, your hormone levels are elevated. After giving birth, hormone levels drop significantly and may not return to pre-pregnancy levels for up to six months, sometimes more. This drop in estrogen can cause the hair follicles to shrink and die, leading to excessive hair loss. A decrease in sebum, a natural oil that keeps the scalp moisturized, can also be a culprit.
As a new mom you will be expending a lot of vitamins and energy keeping yourself and your little one healthy, especially if you're breastfeeding. If you end up vitamin deficient, this can greatly affect shedding. While you're supporting and caring for your new baby, you'll want to ensure you're supporting your health as well.
How Long After Giving Birth Does Postpartum Hair Loss Start?
New moms typically start “the great shed” at 3 months post-pregnancy, and often before the 5th month. Factors such as a sudden drop in hormones (including estrogen), stress, breastfeeding, and lifestyle can all play a part in this event.
So, why the three month lag? Hair growth consists of four phases: growing, transition, resting, and shedding. Post delivery, a large amount of your hair moves into the resting phase where it stays for a few months prior to shedding. After shedding a new growth cycle begins.
Most women tend to notice the loss of hair while showering and washing their hair. Added stress, which is hard to avoid with a new little one to care for, may significantly increase hair loss. And, of course, insufficient sleep, poor diet, and lack of exercise may all be contributing factors.
How Long Does Postpartum Hair Loss Last?
Most experts agree that postpartum hair loss typically lasts anywhere from three to six months, and in some rare cases up to a year. It is important to keep in mind that postpartum hair loss varies considerably from one person to another. It is not permanent, and with the right self-care it can be improved and reversed.
Hair loss peaks at around 3-4 months. There’s usually no need for panic or concern (though, understandably, it can be quite emotional). That said, if you are overly-concerned, and losing a considerable amount of hair, you may want to make an appointment with your doctor.
Solutions For Preventing and Improving Shedding
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, following a few simple steps can go a long way to restoring your hair's health and vigor.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet before and after pregnancy. Protein and vitamin supplements are essential for the health of your hair follicles.
Avoid excessive stress (we know… it’s not easy)! Try to maintain a schedule for both you and your baby. A more calm, productive day may help lessen anxiety.
- Pay close attention to your hair care routine after giving birth. Avoid using harsh chemicals and rinses as they can damage your hair. Additionally, make sure you continue to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are essential for maintaining healthy hair follicles. And, sleep (whenever you can).
- Avoid conditioning shampoos. While this will not actually fix the underlying cause, conditioning shampoos can weigh hair down, making it look thinner. Volumizing shampoos may be the better bet. And, try to avoid over-styling as it can contribute to breakage and additional shedding.
In short, taking good care of yourself and your body is the best thing you can do!
Restoring the nutrients your hair needs will help to increase hair growth, while improving its texture. Baby Blues Postpartum Vitamins contain biotin, collagen, vitamin C, zinc, and more... all designed to help you feel better, and look better!
When To Visit Your Healthcare Provider
In the majority of cases, what you're experiencing is completely normal. And, as each woman will experience postpartum hair loss differently, there isn't a right or wrong answer as to when to involve a medical professional. However, if hair loss is still a problem after one year, you may wish to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your health care provider can help you determine if the hair loss you're experiencing is due to hormonal changes. If so, they may be able to help you regulate those levels.
Postpartum hair loss is common. A sudden drop in hormones can trigger a significant shedding starting at three months, lasting 6 months to even a year. The good news is that you can take preemptive measures to help reduce loss, or even prevent it from occurring.
Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle pre- and post pregnancy, and don't forget to stock up on vitamins! Restore your luscious locks, restore lost hair, and give your scalp the nourishment it needs before, during, and after pregnancy. Reclaim your confidence and emotional well-being.