Postpartum Hair Loss

Many changes take place in a woman's body during and after pregnancy. Hair falling out after having a baby – also known as postpartum hair loss – is one of the more common ones. You’ll be happy to learn that this hormone-driven change is only temporary, but in the meantime, you may be wondering how long postpartum hair loss lasts, what exactly causes it and what you can do to help prevent some of the hair from falling out after having a baby.

What Is Postpartum Hair Loss?

Many women experience some hair loss after giving birth. You might find that your hair seems a little thinner all over your head, or you might notice that you’re ‘shedding’ a little more than usual when you run your fingers through your hair or when you wash your hair, for example. Although you may feel worried about it, remember that this kind of hair loss is common during the postpartum period and is usually temporary. As the effects of pregnancy-related hormonal changes on your body slowly subside, your hair will usually return to normal – in other words what it was before you were pregnant.

What Causes Hair Loss After Giving Birth to Your Baby?

Pregnancy hormones can affect your body in several different ways. You may have noticed, for example, that your hair became thicker when you were pregnant. The hormone oestrogen was responsible for this, making your hair grow faster and less likely to fall out. However, after giving birth to your little one, you may find that all that extra hair you gained during your pregnancy now starts to come loose and shed. This is why you may experience postpartum hair loss in the first few months after your baby is born. Essentially, the surplus hair that grew (or didn’t fall out) during pregnancy is now falling out. In a way, although it may seem like hair ‘loss’, it’s actually just things returning to as they were before you were pregnant. By the way, these same pregnancy hormones may also mean that you find your hair is oilier or drier than usual or even a slightly different colour and texture during pregnancy and afterwards.

How Long Does Postpartum Hair Loss Last?

Precisely how long it takes the body to recover after childbirth can differ from person to person. Generally speaking, though, postpartum hair loss typically starts soon after giving birth, and stops after around three to six months.

How Can You Stop or Prevent Postpartum Hair Loss?

If the hair loss you’re experiencing is caused by the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth, it may simply stop on its own without any treatment at all.

Still, certain vitamins and minerals – such as vitamin A – can contribute to healthy hair growth, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of these as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Ask your doctor or a dietician if you aren’t sure you’re getting all the vitamins you need, and he or she may be able to recommend specific foods to add to your diet.

Certain vitamins and mineral may actually make hair loss worse if you take too much of them, so don’t start taking any supplements for postpartum hair loss without asking your doctor first.

Above all, try to be patient. You have lots on your plate right now and there might not be much more you can do than wait it out.

When Should you See the Doctor About Postpartum Hair Loss?

If you notice that your hair loss is particularly severe, for example, if it’s patchy (with hair coming out in clumps) or you’ve been shedding hair for longer than about six months or so, it might be time to see your doctor.

In some cases, a thyroid issue such as having an overactive thyroid may be causing the hair loss. Some thyroid conditions are also linked to pregnancy or the postpartum period. If your doctor diagnoses a thyroid condition, he or she will be able to recommend treatment.

Another possible cause of hair loss is an iron deficiency. If untreated, this can lead to a condition called iron deficiency anaemia, which can lead to other symptoms like

  • fatigue

  • shortness of breath

  • heart palpitations

  • pale skin.

Your doctor will be able to investigate the reasons for the iron deficiency and – if necessary – prescribe iron tablets to remedy the lack of iron in your blood.

The Big Picture

As you already know all too well, pregnancy and the postpartum period are filled with many wondrous — and not so wondrous — changes in your body, and postpartum hair loss is one of them. Try to keep in mind that being pregnant and giving birth is hard work, and it can take some time for your body to recover. Although it may seem as if there’s no end to the ways your body is changing, know that you’re not alone and – when it comes to your hair, at least – things will soon return to normal.

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below.
The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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