Is Postpartum Hair Loss Normal? Meaning, Causes, Remedies & How to Prevent
Is postpartum hair loss normal? There are many physiological changes that come with pregnancy, of these changes, pregnancy glow is what most women look forward to. Most of these changes are caused by hormonal fluctuations.
This article offers an insight into some of the causes of the hair loss, how long it last, how to manage it at home with natural remedies and what you can do to prevent it from happening.
Extreme hair loss after pregnancy
Postpartum hair loss is normal and temporary. There are lots of changes that take place during and after pregnancy. Apart from the pregnancy glow, most women find that pregnancy makes their hair thicker. Most of these changes are often as a result of drastic hormonal changes.
So how does this happen? When pregnant, there is often a spike in levels of human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG, estrogen, progesterone, oxytocin, and prolactin hormone. After delivery, the level of these hormones drop quickly but prolactin stays high because of breastfeeding.
High levels of estrogen prevent your usual rate of hair loss. It is quite normal for hair to fall out in small amounts every day, this, however, decreases during pregnancy. The decrease is caused by an increase in blood volume and circulation.
After delivery, your hair loss tries to make up for the lost time by falling out in much bigger clumps than normal. The hair loss seems more as it often occurs in a short time, in essence, it isn’t more than you would have lost over the gestation period.
It is estimated that on average, a person loses 100 hairs a day. Hormonal changes during pregnancy are what prevent this from happening.
Increased estrogen levels keep most of the hair in the anagen or growth phase of the hair cycle. Apart from preventing hair loss, this makes your hair look dense and thick.
Not all women notice these changes during pregnancy or the postpartum period. The changes, however, tends to be more obvious among women with longer hair.
Extreme hair loss after pregnancy may at time be a sign or symptom of anemia or postpartum thyroiditis. It is thus important to talk to your healthcare provider if you think the hair loss is too much.
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Postpartum hair due to loss of vitamins
During pregnancy, it is normal to notice your hair look fuller, thicker and more vibrant. Apart from increased hormonal levels, this can also be the result of taking prenatal vitamins.
During pregnancy, your hair goes into a phase known as telogen. This is a dormant cycle of hair growth which makes you loss less hair.
Studies shows that nutritional deficiency may impact both your hair structure and hair growth. The effect of malnutrition or loss of vitamin may include:
a) Telogen effluvium TE
b) Diffuse alopecia
c) Androgenetic alopecia (AGA)
d) Female pattern hair loss (FPHL)
e) Alopecia areata (AA)
This is a group of compound that includes retinol, retinal, retinoic acid and provitamin A carotenoids. Vitamin A has been shown to activate hair follicles stem cells. Vitamin A is therefore need for optimal function of the hair follicles.
While deficiency of vitamin A is not linked to hair loss, too much of it has. Too much of vitamin A or hypervitaminosis A may result from over supplementation. Other effects may include vision, skin and bone changes.
Vitamin E deficiency may result in hemolytic anemia, neurological findings, and skin dryness. This deficiency is rare but may result from malabsorption disorders.
Increased amounts of vitamin E can increase hair growth but too much of it can lead to an increased risk of bleeding and decreased thyroid hormone production.
Does breastfeeding cause postpartum hair loss?
While breastfeeding is often believed to be a cause of postpartum hair loss, there is no evidence showing that indeed breastfeeding causes or increase postpartum hair loss.
As mentioned, hair loss is normal and occur to almost all women. While the condition is normal and temporary, in some women, the hair loss can become extreme a condition called postpartum Alpecia. Normally, the hair loss can last a few weeks to a few months depend on how long the hair cycles is.
When breastfeeding, a healthy diet is just as important as it was during pregnancy. Lack of iron and adequate protein is what contributes to increased hair loss.
When breastfeeding, it is recommended you eat at least 3 servings of proteins and at least 10 milligrams of iron.
Some rich sources of proteins include beans, meat, fish and chicken. Rich sources of iron of iron on the other hands include egg yolk, beans, meat and dried fruits.
How long does postpartum hair loss last?
For most women, by the time their hair begins to thin, they have already had their postpartum check. Postpartum hair loss may last from six months to around one year in other cases. After pregnancy, a woman may loss up to 500 hair per day.
Most women will often start to notice normal hair growth between 6 to 12 months after delivery. If in any case you still continue to have hair loss, you need to speak to your doctor as this may be a sign of something else. This is quite common in new moms.
What not to do with postpartum hair loss
Postpartum hair loss is normal and often occur to most women. That said, here is a list of what not to do:
- Avoid putting too much stress on your hair. you can use a soft, wide, fabric headband to cover your head
- Do not sleep with your hair tied back in any way as this might cause unnecessary stress on the hair roots
- at this time, you need to avoid subjecting your hair to more damage from dyes, conditioners and other hair care products
- Also, do not wrap your hair in a wet towel after washing. This can also put a lot of pressure on the roots of your hair
- Contrary to common belief, breastfeeding does not cause postpartum hair loss. So do not stop breastfeeding just yet, it has lots of benefits to you and your baby
- Avoid stressing over the hair loss, it is normal, temporary ad will often stop on its own even without you doing anything.
Treatment & how to stop postpartum hair loss
As already mentioned, postpartum hair loss is total normal and often nothing to worry about. This condition is controlled by hormonal fluctuation meaning you do not need to do anything to treat or slow the process down.
If the hair loss bothers you, there are some thing you can do to make it appear healthier and more packed. Here is what you need to do:
1. Maintain a balanced diet
A proper balanced diet is the best way to reduce the effects of postpartum hair loss. After delivery, you need to increase you consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. This is a best way to ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs.
To improve the health of your hair, you also need to increase consumption of iron and vitamin C. rich source include sweet potatoes, carrots, eggs and fish.
2. Try some vitamin supplements
Though not recommend especially for new moms, vitamin supplements may also help reduce the effect of postpartum hair loss. When breastfeeding, it is often recommend you continue with your prenatal vitamins.
These products should only be used to supplement a proper diet not substitute one. While no specific vitamin supplement has been shown to affect hair loss, most are very important for general well-being of the body.
3. Use volumizing shampoo not conditioner
While conditioning shampoo are show to weigh your hair down, making it look thinner and limper, volumizers (products that give extra body to the hair) may add body to your hair and help you maintain a shiny look.
4. Skip styling your hair
Since the process is normal and will often clear on its own, we recommend you try to hold off on fancy styling. Avoid heating your hair with a dryer or curling iron until the thinning stops.
While brushing or combing your hair, do it gently, brushing it too hard can cause your hair to fall out in bigger clumps making the hair loss more conspicuous.
Remedies for postpartum hair loss
Even though postpartum hair loss is normal and occur in at least all women after child birth, there are some effective remedies one can use to keep the loss to minimum and promote a healthy hair growth.
Here are some of those remedies you need to try out:
1. Check and treat all nutrients deficiency
Though this condition is often associated with hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and after delivery, nutritional deficiency can worsen the hair loss.
If the hair continues with the same intense a year after your baby is born, you may want to check up with your health care provider to rule out any such deficiency.
Treating the deficiency will often include proper dieting and use of nutritional supplements in some cases.
2. Oil massage
Regardless of what the cause of the hair loss is, a simple regular oil massage can be very beneficial to your hair. Massaging increases blood circulation around the scalp, it also help strengthen the hair roots.
To do it effectively:
- Apply some lukewarm olive oil, coconut oil or any other essential oil on your scalp
- Using your fingers gently massage your scalp for 30 minutes (an even more effective way would to have a professional do it)
- Do this twice daily in the morning and evening before going to bed
3. Biotin supplements
Biotin is a B-complex vitamin that reduces hair loss as it help synthesis hair proteins such as keratin. Deficiency or lack of this vitamin has been shown to breakage and hair loss.
You can either use biotin supplements or get it naturally by increasing your consumption of biotin rich foods such as eggs, almonds, legumes, milk, whole grains and meat.
There are also different shampoo brands and conditioners fortified with these vitamin.
4. Coconut oil
Coconut milk is also a great remedy that can help your deal with postpartum hair loss. Coconut oil is full of ingredients such as vitamins, proteins, and minerals that naturally restores the health of both your scalp and hair.
Simply apply fresh coconut oil, put a shower cup on and allow the oil to stay for 20 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Do this at least twice a day for a month.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera gel is another effective remedy that can help you manage postpartum hair related problems. This gel is said to be a great remedy for providing nourishment, preventing hair loss and bosting hair growth. It also help main pH balance on your scalp.
To use aloe Vera:
- Add some fresh lemon juice to ½ a cup of aloe Vera gel
- Gently mix the two and apply it to your scalp
- Allow it to sit for 30 minutes then shampoo it (Do not use a conditioner)
- Do this twice daily for a month
6. Egg yolk
For a stronger and thicker hair, a regular protein treatment is highly recommend. Egg makes the best remedy for this especially during the postpartum period.
Egg yolk is also rich in other nutrients and fatty acids that will help nourish and enhance a natural shine.
To use this remedy:
- Mix a tablespoon of olive oil with 2 eggs and mix thoroughly to achieve a fine mix
- Apply the mixture after washing your hair and allow it to sit for 30 -45 minutes
- Now use lukewarm water to shampoo your hair
- Do this at least twice a week
How to prevent postpartum hair loss
It is not completely possible for one to prevent postpartum hair loss. One can however experiment with different hair product to give your hair a fuller and thicker look especially during the transition period.
A good thing would be to avoid conditioners which tend to weigh down hair.
Dermatologist recommends the following tips for those with excessive hair shedding:
- Avoid conditioners and shampoos containing conditioners as they tend to weigh down the hair and make it look limp
- Instated, use a volumizing shampoo rich in proteins that coat the hair making appear fuller
- if you have to use a conditioner, use one formulated for finer hair, these contains lighter formulas that do not weigh down your hair
- when using a condition, only apply it on the ends of your hair, applying it on your scalp makes all your hair to weigh down
- Is it normal to start losing your hair after giving birth: https://www.babycenter.com/0_postpartum-hair-loss_11721.bc
- Dealing with postpartum hair loss: https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/postpartum/dealing-with-postpartum-hair-loss/
- The 4 best treatment for postpartum hair loss: https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/postpartum-hair-loss#modal-close
- American academy of dermatology, hair loss in new moms: https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/hair-care/hair-loss-in-new-moms
- Causes of postpartum hair loss and what to do: https://www.verywell.com/causes-of-postpartum-hair-loss-and-what-to-do-4111113