Women experience numerous physical and emotional changes during and after pregnancy. Thicker fuller hair during pregnancy is one of the best side effects of pregnancy. One of the most annoying and inconvenient changes is postpartum hair loss. Many new parents assume that hair loss is caused by the stress of caring for a newborn. While that may be the case, the likely cause is hormonal fluctuations. Here’s why postpartum hair loss occurs and treatments to try.
Why it happens
Normally, a healthy scalp loses between 50 and 100 hairs per day. A normal head of hair is usually 85% actively growing and 15% in the resting phase. A stressful event like giving birth can increase the resting phase percentage to 70%. Once the hormone levels drop, the body lets go of the hair which causes postpartum hair loss. Breastfeeding is also stressful on the body, impacting hormonal levels, and is a factor for hair loss.
During pregnancy, the normal hair loss rate decreases. It decreases because of increased blood volume and circulation which is why hair during this period is incredibly healthy. After the baby arrives, the hormone levels drop, and postpartum hair loss begins about three to four months after birth. The important thing to remember during this stressful period is it’s just a phase and it will pass. Stress can also contribute to hair loss, so try not to panic.
Management and treatment
You need to eat well. Fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins are your friend. They are the best way to make sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. Specific nutrients that are suggested to improve your hair include iron and vitamin c (dark leafy greens), beta carotene (sweet potatoes and carrots), vitamin D (eggs), omega-3s, and magnesium (fish). Adequate nutrition is important for the body’s health including the hair.
You should keep taking your prenatal vitamins even after giving birth. Folate is a B-complex vitamin that protects the embryo. Folic acid in it is also helpful for hair and nail growth which is helpful when dealing with postpartum hair loss.
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Certain nutritional supplements can help with postpartum hair loss management including iron, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.
Reduce heat and styling
Hair after giving birth becomes more delicate and is more susceptible to heat damage. Be extra gentle with your hair to manage and minimize postpartum hair loss. Give your hair dryer and straightening iron a break as your hair recovers. Shampoo your hair only when necessary or not at all. Also, use a good conditioner and a wide-toothed comb and minimize styling. Brushing your hair too hard can cause your hair to fall out in bigger chunks, worsening your postpartum hair loss. There’s no time like the present to go for that messy-mom hair. Also, use gentle hairbands, and when you hold your hair go for looser ponytails and looser braids.
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