“Help, I’m going bald! What is happening?”
I have heard those words many times from clients who have just had a baby. Well, ladies, there is no need to panic. It’s called postpartum hair loss and while it can be disturbing, it’s perfectly normal. So what is postpartum hair loss and why does it happen?
The normal life cycle of hair consists of three stages: the growth phase (anagen), transitional phase (catagen), and resting phase (telogen). Hairs are shed during the resting phase and it’s normal to lose up to 100 hairs per day, according to WebMD. During pregnancy, estrogen levels rise and the growth phase is prolonged, therefore fewer hairs enter the resting phase and you don’t shed as much.
After pregnancy, estrogen levels drop and all of the hair that was in the prolonged growing phase begins to shed. The process usually starts around 3 months postpartum. For many women, the increased shedding is gradual; for others, hair can fall out in clumps. Either way, it can be pretty troublesome to many women.
If you are pregnant, don’t be alarmed! Not all women are bothered by the postpartum shedding. Some women with thick hair are relieved by it. Others barely notice the change.
Unfortunately, there isn’t anything that can be done about the hair loss itself. Your hormones will regulate themselves and your hair should return to its normal growth cycle within 6 months to 1 year after your baby is born.
However, if your thinning hair is noticeable, here are my recommendations:
- Be gentle with your hair to preserve the hair that isn’t in the resting phase. When it’s wet, its lost 1/3 of its strength so take special care just out of the shower. Do not tie it up wet or wrap it in a towel. Use a wide-tooth comb to detangle.
- Avoid heat styling if you can while you are shedding like crazy. Again, this preserves the health of the hair you do have and prevents breakage.
- Ask your stylist for a haircut that de-emphasizes any thin areas and maximizes volume.
- Consider having your hair colored. It actually plumps each strand a bit, making your hair appear fuller.
- Maintain a healthy diet and keep taking your prenatal vitamins. Some women swear by prenatals for hair growth and health. It can’t hurt.
- I’m a big fan of tinted hair powders and fiber-based thinning hair concealers like Organin Hair Thickening Fiber. If you have a really thin area, it may be worth a try.
- Do not stress. I know, easier said than done. But stress can stop your hair from resuming its normal cycle and you may continue to shed more than normal. This condition is called telogen effluvium.
If you find that your hair does not seem to be returning to normal or if shedding is excessive, check in with your doctor. According to What To Expect, when combined with other symptoms, post-baby shedding may be a sign of postpartum thyroiditis.