Your body goes through some incredible changes before and after pregnancy. One of the best parts of pregnancy is the full, shiny hair. In the months after childbirth, most women begin to shed hair. It can feel sudden, but in most cases, it’s perfectly natural.
During pregnancy, your typical hair shedding cycle is postponed. The quality can change or improve as well. Around 12 to 16 weeks after pregnancy, your hair goes into a “resting phase”, and begins to shed. This is typically just part of the body returning to normal. Sometimes, though, the hair loss continues, or you find that your hair is thinner than before pregnancy. Texture and quality changes are also not uncommon. At a time when you may already be adjusting to many changes to your body, it can really take a toll on your self-esteem. So what causes post-pregnancy hair loss, and can the effects be reversed?
Why your hair changes
Certainly hormones have a large part in the transformations that take place. High levels of estrogen during pregnancy make hair growth more prominent, but once a woman has had her baby or stops breastfeeding that hormone drop off causes the opposite reaction. During pregnancy the hormonal changes cause the hair lifecycle to pause, which makes it appear that the hair is actually thicker. The cycle returns to normal after birth, which initiates all of the hair loss that didn’t occur throughout the pregnancy.
If a new mother is healthy and maintaining a good diet, the hair cycle is more likely to return to normal along with the hair quality. Hair loss issues, in connection with childbirth, are worsened when the stress of pregnancy, a difficult delivery, or a new baby continues to further the process. Nutrient deficiencies, lack of sleep, and stress are normal experiences for new mothers, but for some it increases the possibility of hair loss. Normal hair loss will occur around 3 months after childbirth, but at six months, if you are concerned about continuing hair thinning, there are things you can do. Hair loss of this type is usually quite treatable.
Prevention and regrowth
During and after pregnancy, there are things you can do to lessen the effects of the hair loss. A good diet consisting of non-processed foods can do a lot for hair health. Eating the right foods helps fill nutrient deficiencies and restore balance to the body's functions. There are certain foods that have more positive impacts on the body than others. If you are struggling with post-pregnancy hair loss, try adding more of these foods into your daily diet:
- Crunchy green vegetables
- Sweet potatoes
- Chicken, beef, or fish
Besides a healthy and balanced diet, reducing harmful styling habits can be helpful for hair loss as well. Straighteners and curling irons can add stress by drying and pulling the hair.
Skipping these will save you much-needed time, as well as improve your hair. Stress is another significant factor in post-partum hair loss. Sleep deprivation (remember to sleep when your baby sleeps. You can clean up and do many things while the baby is awake. You need your sleep to get back to normal), difficult delivery or c-section, and changes in the family dynamic all take their toll. Stress can cause excessive hair loss typically 3-6 months after a stressful event, so taking breaks and reducing stressful situations will benefit your hair, body, and mind.
Enjoy this time with your new baby, and give your body time. If, after six months, you are still struggling with hair loss, consider taking our Hair Assessment.