Postpartum Hair Loss: It's Only Temporary

hair loss

So many fun, exciting moments come with the arrival of your new little one. The first smile, the first conversation full of “ba-ba-ba” and “ma-ma-ma” and the first time he rolls over; these are just some of the milestones you’ll watch your baby meet. Along with those enjoyable firsts, though, come some surprising changes to your body. You might freak out the first time you pull out a clump of your hair, but postpartum hair loss is perfectly normal.

Cause of Postpartum Hair Loss

When you’re not pregnant, between 85 and 95 percent of your hair is growing at once, while the other strands are in a resting phase. At the end of this resting phase, usually two to three months, the hair falls out so new hair can grow.

The rise in estrogen during pregnancy causes your hair to remain in the growing phase longer rather than enter into the resting phase. Once you deliver your little one, your estrogen levels drop, and up to 60 percent of your hair goes into the resting state. A few months later, all that hair starts to fall out. You’ll probably leave a trail of hair around the house, on the bathroom counter, the shower walls, your brush, the kitchen counter—basically anywhere you spend time.

You’ll start shedding all those extra strands between one and six months after delivery, but the average is three months. Usually, by six to 12 months, your hair growth and loss returns to its normal cycle.

How to Deal With Hair Loss

While the hair loss can be shocking, it’s temporary, and there are a few ways you can deal with it.

Choose a shampoo and conditioner that add volume. These usually have protein, which makes the hair appear fuller. Use a conditioner that’s made for fine hair, and only apply it to the ends of your hair. Applying it to your whole head weighs your hair down. You can also try a mousse or texturizer that adds volume.

Stay away from fine-tooth combs, ponytails, braids or hair rollers, which all put extra stress on your hair. If you have to use a blow dryer, use the cool setting. Think about getting a new haircut. A shorter style can add extra volume and may also be easier to manage, giving you more time to spend with your little one. Plus, most new moms don't have much time to spend on styling their hair.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which have flavonoids and antioxidants that can help encourage hair growth. Check with your doctor about supplementing your diet with some extra nutrients such as vitamin B complex, biotin, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc.

Other Postpartum Changes

You’ll experience some other postpartum changes in addition to your hair loss that might surprise you. If sex is the last thing on your mind, you’re not alone. You just delivered a baby; you’re busy taking care of the new little addition and yourself, and your estrogen levels have just returned to normal. Your sex drive will rebound, but it will take some time.

You might wish to hop right back into your skinny jeans after delivering your baby, but it takes six to eight weeks for the uterus to go back to its normal size. It takes even longer to lose the additional baby weight. A healthy diet and good exercise routine can help you shed those last pounds, but check with your doctor first.

You may find that you can’t squeeze your feet into anything but flip-flops. A hormone called relaxin loosens many ligaments to prepare you for childbirth, including those in your feet. Your feet may have flattened and lengthened, giving you a good reason to go buy a new pair of shoes. You may also find yourself shopping for a new bra, especially if you’re breastfeeding. But once you stop nursing, your bra size will probably drop. If you’re breastfeeding, expect your breasts to not only get smaller when you end the nursing relationship, they may sag a bit as well.

Along with the excitement of your new baby come other emotions, such as irritability, sadness and even anxiety. These feelings aren’t unusual and are called the baby blues. They should go away in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, talk to your partner, friends and family about how you’re feeling. Talk to your doctor if the irritable feelings don’t go away after a few weeks.

Hair-Loss Concerns

Your hair cycle should return to normal by the time your baby turns a year old. If it doesn’t or if you feel like you're experiencing extreme hair loss, talk to you doctor. It could be caused by a deficiency in vitamins and nutrients, hypothyroidism, iron deficiency anemia or some other health issue.Something else to look out for while you’re shedding all that hair is pieces that fall out and wrap around some part of your baby, maybe a toe or finger. Although it’s unusual, a strand can wrap tight enough that it cuts off your little one’s circulation or causes an infection. Look for a loose end, and gently unwind the hair. If you don’t see a loose end, cut the hair carefully with a small pair of scissors.