If you’ve had a baby recently you may have noticed that your once vibrant hair is now thinning or falling out. This is a very common after-effect of pregnancy, affecting up to half of all mothers. It is usually temporary and is the result of changing hormones.
What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?
During pregnancy, hormones put scalp hair into a growth phase, meaning that your hair will grow and become thicker. Pregnant women are often described as having a "glow" and this may be one of the reasons why.
After the birth, the hair goes into a "resting" phase and remains dormant on the head for two or three months. Then it goes into another growth phase and all the "resting" hairs are shed at once.
This can make your hair seem thin and lifeless and it may come out when you brush it, but it isn’t usually severe enough to cause baldness. If you have bald patches, you could possibly have a vitamin deficiency.
Treatment is not necessary unless the hair loss is severe. Your hair will usually return to normal within one year.
How to Reduce Hair Loss after Childbirth
• Don’t overbrush your hair to have styles that put undue strain on the hair
• Don’t use hairdryers, or if you do, use a low setting to avoid damaging hair
• Eat a balanced diet with fruit and vegetables to encourage hair growth
• Take a multi-vitamin supplement that contains vitamins B, B7 (biotin) C and E and zinc. Make sure it is a brand that is suitable for use in pregnancy and breast feeding.
Consider having a short hair style during this postnatal period as the effect of thinning hair will be less obvious. If you are still suffering from hair loss after one year, see your doctor as it may be a sign of another health problem, such as anemia or thyroid disorder.
Postpartum Hair Loss, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. Web. 12 October 2011. http://www.dermatology.svhm.org.au/mch/mch%20hair%20loss.htm
Pregnancy and Hair Loss, American Pregnancy Association. Web. 12 October 2011.
Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting.
She is a mother of five who practised drug-free home birth, delayed cord clamping, full term breast feeding, co-sleeping, home schooling and flexi schooling and is an advocate of raising children on organic food.
Reviewed October 12, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith