Pregnancy and Postpartum Hair Management

Pregnancy can often be a healthy time for the hair, but not always. Most pregnant women are concerned with how pregnancy will affect their hair. Hair loss after pregnancy is known as postpartum hair loss. More than 80 percent of women suffer from this condition for about six to eight months after child birth.

What causes postpartum hair loss?

On average, a person loses about 100 hair strands a day. After child birth, women begin to lose more than 200 hairs a day. During pregnancy, hormones keep the hair on the head. When hormonal levels begin to go down after child birth, so does the hair. This is a common occurrence. In most cases, the hair is regained after the hormone levels in the body return to normal, typically within 6 to 8 months after child birth.
Postpartum hair loss occurs due to the sudden change in the estrogen level in the body. During pregnancy, the body produces high levels of hormones, mainly estrogen. These hormones help the hair remain in the growth phase, also called the Anagen phase, so there is actually an increased hair growth during pregnancy.

There are three stages for the hair cycle: Anagen (the growth phase), Catagen (the intermediate phase), and Telogen (the shedding phase). During the Anagen phase, the follicle produces new Hair. This phase can last from three to as long as seven years. The period and the density of hair growth may vary from one individual to the other depending on genetic factors, exposure and diet. Catagen, the intermediate phase, immediately follows the Anagen phase. This period lasts between two and four weeks. During this period, the base of the follicle moves upwards towards the surface of the skin. During the Telogen phase, which lasts for three to four months, the new hair begins to grow from the hair follicle. As the new hair grows, the old hair is pulled out naturally and comes out during combing or shampooing.
After child birth, the hormone level in the body goes back to normal, leading to Telogen Effluvium – the excessive shedding of hair. This occurs between one to five months after child birth and affects 40-50 percent of mothers after child birth. Hair growth rate typically returns to normal rate within six to 12 months after delivery.

What do you need to know about postpartum hair loss?

The postpartum hair loss process will not begin until after breastfeeding is over. At this point, it is important that postpartum women are assured that they will not go bald and that their hair will return to its normal state. This process however, can take from six months to one year. For some women however, the hair never returns to its pre-delivery state as a result of the fluctuating estrogen level in the body which greatly affects women’s hair. This condition is most commonly found in women in the premenopausal stage who also experience a shorter hair growth cycle.

What you can do about postpartum hair loss?

The following measures help alleviate postpartum hair loss:

  • Prenatal Vitamin
    Incorporate prenatal vitamin supplements in your diet.
  • Nutrient rich diet
    Incorporate healthy foods in your diet, to include lean meat, leafy green veggies, dairy, beans and eggs.
  • Hydrate your hair
    Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. It is vital to hydrate the hair from inside out.
  • Nurture your hair along with your baby
    Be extra gentle with your hair during this particular time. Use gentle shampoos that have a natural base. Use a wide tooth comb to separate the tangles and knots.
  • Zinc and iron are your best friends
    Incorporate a zinc and iron supplement. You can also consume food loaded with zinc and iron such as apples, red beans and meat.
  • Heat is your worst enemy
    Skip heat styling, skip steamy showers and embrace your natural hair texture. Learn a few heatless hair styles.

Visit our clinic.

At Annandale Ob/Gyn, we provide consultation for hair loss prevention and treatment. While skin changes are often noticeable within a few weeks after conception, changes in the hair are not. The sebum changes in the sebaceous glands are a good indicator of the state of the hair. Accordingly, by measuring the sebum fluctuations and other indicators, we can propose the proper treatment for hair loss. An over-oily scalp can also give the hair a heavy, limp and lank feel, and it is the acidity of the sebum that smooth down the hair’s cuticle. When less sebum is produced, the hair appears drier and may have more body, so it feels thicker. Furthermore, estrogens extend the growth phase of hair, so it stays in the scalp and grows longer.

Please visit us anytime for a free consultation.

Author: Dr. Anna Le