Postpartum Shedding: Why and How to Handle It
You've just given birth to the most beautiful baby in the world. There are no words to describe the happiness and excitement of welcoming this mini version of you into your family. But you're also exhausted. Extremely exhausted from the lack of sleep and the worry and you've got the bags under your eyes to prove it.
And to make things even better, three months later your hair starts falling out in clumps. Sure, you knew that this 'postpartum shedding' thing was going to happen from speaking to friends and family, but it's one thing to hear about it and another to actually live it. And now you're terrified. Terrified that by the time your baby is one year old s/he'll have more hair than you do. Well, we're sure you're tired of hearing this, but DO NOT PANIC.
Here we'll give you a basic understanding of how postpartum shedding works and tips to help you deal with it.
Why am I losing Hair?
This is all due to hormones affecting your hair growth cycle.
Our hair has 4 stages: (a) Anagen, the growing phase; (b) Catagen, the transition phase; (c) Telogen, the resting phase; and (d) Exogen, the shedding phase. The more important ones for this post are the Anagen and Telogen phases.
Normally, at any point in time about 90% of our hair is in the growing phase (which lasts about 2 to 7 years), while the remaining 10% is the resting phase lasting about 3 months and waiting on the follicle for the shedding phase to begin and hair growth cycle to restart.
However, during pregnancy, women experience an increase in Estrogen levels which causes changes to their hair. This may cause their hair texture to look and feel different. In addition, since the hormonal changes stimulate an increase in the numbers of hairs in the growing phase, some might notice how thicker and healthier their hair looks as less hairs will be resting/shedding.
Once you give birth, your hormone levels start to level out and go back to normal in the months following. As a result, a larger percentage of hairs than usual will go from the anagen into the resting phase which, as you know, is followed by the shedding phase. This means that after birth, you'll have between 1 to 6 months (resting phase), until you experience greater than normal hair loss.
So, if on average a normal person loses about 40-80 strands of hair a day, after birth you'll be losing about 400, with the most dramatic shedding phase lasting about 3 months.
But not to worry, as the shedding should be followed by the regrowth of a new hair and your normal hair growth cycle going back to your pre-pregnancy levels between 6 to 12 months after birth.
What can I do to stop it?
The truth is there are no ways for you to actually stop it from happening. Some women might not even experience it, and some might even experience it in one pregnancy but not in another.
There are, nevertheless, ways to help you cope with it:
#1 Get your hair cut. The longer the hair, the more overwhelmed you'll feel every time you look down the drain as the clumps coming out will look bigger than they really are. It'll also help reshape your hair and make it look healthier, in addition to taking less time to look after, so you can focus on the baby.
#2 Change your hairstyle. If getting your hair cut is not an option, you can always try different styles that will help hide the hair loss and will require less manipulation so that you're not actively pulling out your own hair.
#3 Swap your hair tools. Avoid combs and brushes that are too harsh on your hair. If you use heat tools, avoid those and any chemical treatments. All these will put more stress on your already fragile strands.
#4 Eat healthy and take a supplement. It's hard already with the baby to be able to eat a proper meal, but you'll need to make sure that your body is getting the right nutrients it needs to function and cater to your hair needs. If you still have your prenatal supplements, continue taking those or try other hair supplements. Whatever you choose, make sure to consult your doctor first, especially if you're breastfeeding.
#5Try herbal tea rinses. Green tea or Black tea rinses are great to reduce shedding, in addition to helping with growth.
If after a year of giving birth, you're still experiencing excessive hair loss, chances are there might be an underlying condition actually causing that, which could be postpartum related, so please consult your doctor if that's the case.
*Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.*