If you’ve had a baby, then you know the journey is far from over once your little one arrives. Not only are sleepless nights and all the diaper changes on the horizon, but your body also needs time to readjust to navigating the world after delivery.
For your hair, that might mean dealing with postpartum hair loss, a not-so-great aftereffect of pregnancy. It’s common — according to the American Pregnancy Association, the condition affects somewhere between 40 to 50 percent of women — but that doesn’t make it any less of a nuisance.
Curious about why it occurs and what you can do — if anything — to thwart it? Here’s everything you need to know about postpartum hair loss, including a timeline for when things should return to normal.
What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?
Just like most of the ups and downs that come with pregnancy, birth, and the time that thereafter, postpartum hair loss — or telogen effluvium — is associated with your hormones.
Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified New York City-based dermatologist and assistant professor of Dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, says in the case of postpartum hair loss, the reason women notice excessive shedding of hair is the direct result of the rise in hormones that occurs during pregnancy. During that time, Jaliman, who is also the author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, says women experience a pause in the normal hair loss that otherwise naturally occurs on a day-to-day basis.
“Once you have had your baby, your hormone levels return to normal and the hair you never lost while you were pregnant will then fall out. It will seem as if you are losing a lot of hair,” Jaliman says. “This is basically your hair cycle attempting to return to normal.”
She added: “But like most changes during pregnancy, it is temporary.”
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How Long Does it Last?
But what does “temporary” really mean, right? Jaliman says, in general, you’ll notice hair loss two to three months following childbirth, and it should only last a few months.
Jaliman says you can expect your hair cycle to return to normal six to months after childbirth.
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Is There Anything I Can Do to Help?
While hair loss is considered a normal part of the postpartum experience, Jaliman says there are a few steps you can take to play nice with hair and ensure healthy growth, including:
- Avoid tight ponytails and braids.
- Skip the heating tools (e.g. curling irons, flat irons).
- Take vitamins. (Note: Always be sure to check with your physician first.)
- Use products with biotin.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
When Should I Contact My Doctor?
If you start to notice an excessive amount of hair loss and/or see bald spots begin to appear, then it’s time to give your healthcare provider a call, Jaliman says. You may also want to pick up the phone if you suspect other issues with your hormones (e.g. heavy periods, hot flashes and night sweats, breast tenderness) and need an expert opinion.
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