Postpartum and Breastfeeding

How To Stop Postpartum Hair Loss

Hillary Bennetts

How To Stop Postpartum Hair Loss

How To Stop Postpartum Hair Loss

Many women find themselves faced with at least one unexpected symptom during the postpartum period. Maybe it’s the moodiness, the night sweats that soak your sheets, or the intense hunger that you didn’t anticipate. For some women, it is postpartum hair loss that feels unexpected (and unfair!). 

You might have questions, like why does it happen? Does it affect everyone? When does it stop? And is there anything you can do to prevent or minimize it? Let’s take a look.

What is Postpartum Hair Loss?

Postpartum hair loss is the excessive shedding of hair in the first several months after you give birth. Another name for postpartum hair loss is telogen effluvium.

Postpartum Hair Loss: An Overview

Let’s take a step back and look at how hair grows, and then we’ll have the context to learn why postpartum happens, how long it lasts, and how common it is. 

How Does Hair Grow?

Hair grows from small pores in the skin on your scalp called follicles. Your hair is continuously growing and shedding. This cycle of hair growth has three phases that repeat throughout your lifetime:

  • Anagen phase: the phase of active hair growth. It can last between two and six years. Most of your hair (85% to 90%) is in this phase at any given time.
  • Catagen phase: a short, transitional phase where the hair follicles shrink.
  • Telogen phase: a resting phase that lasts about three months. After, the follicle releases the hair and the hair falls out. During phases of life outside of pregnancy and postpartum, you may lose up to 100 hairs per day. 

During pregnancy, hormones cause many hairs to be in the anagen (growing) phase. This is why you might notice that your hair looks thicker and fuller during pregnancy.  

How Does Postpartum Hair Loss Occur?

Postpartum hair loss is caused by hormone changes that occur after pregnancy. Many hairs that were in the growing phase (anagen) suddenly enter the resting phase (telogen). So a few months into postpartum, you lose that hair.

How Long Does Postpartum Hair Loss Last?

The good news is that postpartum hair loss is temporary. It might feel neverending, but you will likely shed hair for less than six months. 

How Common is Postpartum Hair Loss?

While you may not have heard about postpartum hair loss until you started experiencing it, the truth is that postpartum hair loss is quite common. Most women will experience higher than normal hair loss at some point during their postpartum journey. 

Symptoms, Causes and Diagnosis

What are the signs of postpartum hair loss?

The signs of postpartum hair loss are fairly obvious. You’ll start to notice more hair than usual on your brush, pillow, clothing, or shower floor. You may also start to see thinner patches of hair on your head. Many women notice shorter “baby” hairs around their face or neck.

What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?

  • Changes in the hormone estrogen during and after pregnancy cause postpartum hair loss. 
  • In the last trimester of pregnancy, your estrogen levels increase. 
  • This prevents the typical shedding of hair. 
  • You may notice that your hair is lush and thick during this time.
  • After childbirth, estrogen levels drop. 
  • This causes a large number of hairs to enter the resting phase of hair growth. 
  • After a few months, this hair starts to shed.

How is Postpartum Hair Loss Diagnosed?

There is no real diagnosis for normal postpartum hair loss. If your hair loss seems excessive (e.g., you notice spots of baldness) or it is not subsiding after a few months, reach out to your healthcare practitioner for exploration into a root cause. You may have a nutrient deficiency or other health condition that is behind your hair loss.

Management, Treatment and Prevention

How is Postpartum Hair Loss Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for postpartum hair loss. However, there are steps you can take to support yourself throughout this phase:

  • Treat your hair with care. Try washing your hair less often (as if you need to be told that in postpartum!) and use lower heat settings on blow dryers and styling irons to prevent damage. 
  • Eat a nutrient dense diet and continue taking a comprehensive prenatal vitamin to support your body (and hair) with nutrients like vitamins A, C, D, and E, zinc, B vitamins, and biotin.
  • Consider an iron supplement if you aren’t consuming sufficient iron through your diet. Iron deficiency may exacerbate hair loss.

Can My Hair Loss Affect My Baby?

Postpartum hair loss is a normal part of pregnancy and childbirth and won’t affect your baby.

However, there is one thing associated with postpartum hair loss to keep in mind when it comes to your baby. Hair that falls out can wrap around your baby’s fingers, toes or other body parts. This “hair tourniquet” is a rare occurrence but can cause pain and cut off blood supply to your baby’s tiny body parts. It’s quick and easy to scan fingers and toes if you’re concerned about this happening.

How Can I Prevent Postpartum Hair Loss?

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to prevent postpartum hair loss. 

However, being aware that it is a normal part of postpartum can be helpful so that you aren’t as shocked (or upset) when it happens.

Outlook and Prognosis

Will my hair grow back after postpartum hair loss?

Yes! The good news is that hair loss after childbirth is not permanent. New hair will start growing back as soon as the old hair falls out.

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Please always feel empowered to reach out to your healthcare provider with concerns at any time, but when it comes to postpartum hair loss, it’s a good idea to talk with your provider if you continue to lose hair for more than six months. This can help rule out other potential concerns like a nutrient deficiency or thyroid disorder.

To try to make sure no mother feels alone Needed has introduced our 'Postpartum Guide,' a comprehensive and continuously expanding resource designed to support you with shared experiences and expert insights, covering all your postpartum needs. Because a lack of support, should never be normal. 

Like the article? Share it!

Hillary Bennetts, Nutritionist

Hillary Bennetts is a nutritionist and business consultant focusing on prenatal and postpartum health. In addition to nutrition consulting, she provides business consulting and content creation for companies in the health and wellness industry. Hillary spent almost a decade in corporate consulting before shifting gears to combine her lifelong passion for health and wellness with her business background and nutrition education.