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7th December 2023

Postpartum Hair Loss

Welcoming a new life into the world can be a magical experience, but the changes your body goes through afterward can sometimes be surprising. One common occurrence, often not discussed as openly as it should be, is postpartum hair loss. Let’s explore further.

What should I be expecting?

Between 6 to 12 weeks after giving birth, many women experience a noticeable increase in shedding hair. This reduction might make the hair feel thinner, especially around the crown and near the hairline. Moreover, the sudden change in hormones can also affect the texture, making it feel drier, more brittle, or lacking in its usual lustre. In some cases, the hairline might appear to recede temporarily due to the shedding of hair around the frontal area.

These changes, whilst understandably alarming for some, are typically temporary and usually resolve in 6-12 months.

Why Does Postpartum Hair Loss Happen?

Hormonal shifts following childbirth can affect the hair growth cycle. During pregnancy, soaring Oestrogen levels keep hairs growing, resulting in fuller, thicker hair. However, after childbirth, hormone levels normalize, and the hair follicles that were kept in the growth phase (anagen) start to enter the resting or shedding phase (telogen) all at once. It’s not necessarily an increase in hair loss but rather the catching up of the natural shedding process, and so it can seem scary at first.

Apart from hormonal changes, physical and emotional stress, nutritional deficiencies, your genetics and your general lifestyle also contribute to postpartum hair loss. To summarize, it’s often multi-factorial!

Tips for Coping with Postpartum Hair Loss

Wondering by about the best methods to optimize your hair’s health? Let’s deep dive.

1. Nutrition Matters: Re-vitalize your hair health by adding Zinc-rich foods like oysters and pumpkin seeds, Iron sources such as spinach and red meat, Vitamin D from sunlight or fish, and Vitamin B3 and B12 found in chicken, mushrooms, dairy, and fortified cereals. Incorporating protein such as in fish, along with healthy fats found naturally in avocados and olive oil will also support your hair follicles. This diverse range of nutrients supports overall hair vitality and growth.

2. Consider Supplements: Multi-vitamin supplements containing the above can complement your diet if you are lacking, and can help support your body during this time.

3. Manage Your Stress: Be kind to yourself and prioritize stress reduction and adequate sleep. Stress is a well-known cause of hair loss. Don’t be afraid to call on those around you for support – motherhood isn’t easy! These small tweaks can positively impact overall wellbeing, including hair health.

4. Care For Your Hair: Opt for volumizing shampoos or products – whilst they won’t stop shedding, they’re designed to add volume and thickness to your hair, giving it a fuller appearance. Try to avoid oilier or conditioning shampoos as these can flatten your volume! Be gentle on the scalp when brushing and washing, and avoid tight hairstyles that add extra strain to the scalp. Sometimes, trying out a new haircut might give you the lift you need – it might even help the new regrowth blend in more (plus the added benefit of less yanking from baby!).

When should I seek help?

Remember, postpartum hair loss typically resolves on its own within a year. However, if you notice excessive hair loss beyond this timeframe, or you’re concerned about your scalp health – or you just want some advice before then, seeking help from a healthcare professional can provide that reassurance and guidance.

Be particularly on the lookout for when loose strands of hair accidentally wrap around your baby’s fingers or toes, as they can be quite constricting! Thankfully it’s very rare, but it’s always safer to remove any loose hairs around your little one.

Where can I seek further support?

At London Gynaecology, you can consult with an experienced GP who can explore your concerns holistically, examine your scalp for any treatable skin conditions, and together you can create a treatment plan. Additionally, our specialized Nutritionist can offer personalized dietary advice to support your hair health.

It’s important to embrace patience and self-care during this phase of postpartum changes. We need to acknowledge and talk more about the physical changes that many women experience, and whilst hair loss can be concerning, it’s often a temporary phase in the tumultuous journey of motherhood. But remember, you are never alone, there will always be support if you seek it!

Written by: Dr. Alisha Esmail

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