Having a baby can cause a lot of changes in your body — but it can also have a big impact on your hair.
Postpartum hair loss is a relatively common condition for many women. One study found more than 68% of new mothers experienced some level of hair loss after giving birth . So if you notice more hair shedding than usual in the days and weeks after you’ve had a baby, it’s not always a reason to worry.
Learning more about what postpartum hair loss is, why it happens, and how you can treat it can be helpful for new mums. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about dealing with postpartum hair loss.
Postpartum hair loss, or hair loss after pregnancy, occurs in the weeks and months after you give birth. It’s a type of hair loss known as telogen effluvium, which is often triggered by stress, trauma, or hormonal changes, all of which are in high supply during and after childbirth.
Telogen effluvium is almost always temporary. One study of 98 postpartum women found that their hair regrew in all but two cases . In these two women, there was another unrelated reason that the hair didn’t return to normal.
Postpartum hair loss usually starts eight to 16 weeks after childbirth, and grows back within four to six months . So unless your hair loss lasts longer than expected or you experience excessive shedding, there’s usually no need to worry about it.
Many female celebrities with hair loss have been open about their postpartum hair loss, including Christina Milian and Lea Michele:
During pregnancy, women experience a massive increase in female hormones, particularly oestrogen and progesterone. These pregnancy hormones help the mother prepare for pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
These hormones also nourish your hair, keeping it in the anagen or growth phase for longer than usual . So your hair during pregnancy tends to become thicker and fuller.
After childbirth, when the hormones return to their normal levels, your pregnancy hair quickly returns to the telogen or shedding phase of the hair growth cycle. As a result, your hair falls out and you will see more hair shedding, especially hair loss in the shower and on your pillow in the morning.
You can usually tell if your hair loss is related to childbirth by the timing. If you see significant clumps of hair falling out up to six months after delivery, it may be postpartum hair loss.
However, there are other female hair loss conditions that can be confused with postpartum hair loss. Here are the most common conditions, and how you can tell them apart:
Unfortunately, there really isn’t a way to stop postpartum hair loss and individuals experiencing this form of hair loss will just have to wait it out. Most mums experiencing postpartum hair loss will see healthy hair growth within just a few months, so you don’t need to take any medications to treat this condition.
Certain drugs meant to stimulate hair growth, like Minoxidil, aren’t normally suitable for people who are breastfeeding. While there’s not much evidence to suggest Minoxidil is actively dangerous for a baby, it does show that Minoxidil is excreted into breast milk, so side effects can occur. There have been reports of hypertrichosis (excessive extra hair growth) in babies who are being breastfed by a mother using 5% Minoxidil .
Minoxidil for women may be OK to use if you’re not breastfeeding, but it’s best to check with your doctor.
The best thing you can do to encourage postpartum hair regrowth is to eat a balanced and healthy diet that promotes hair health. It’s important to favour foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein. These are usually found in fruit, dark leafy greens, nuts, seafood, and meat.
You can also try taking supplements, but these are usually only effective if you have an active nutritional deficiency. In addition, taking too many supplements might cause further hair loss, particularly Vitamin A . So it’s best to get as many nutrients as you can from your food.
People with healthy hair lose up to 100 strands of hair every day. That’s because it’s normal for some hairs to move from the growth phase to the shedding phase.
But as your hormone levels reset, more hair shifts into the telogen phase at the same time. That’s why women who’ve recently given birth can expect to lose an estimated 300-600 hairs a day [1, 7].
Up to 60% of the hairs in the anagen phase enter the telogen phase in the postpartum period . But one study found that you’re almost as likely to have zero hair loss as you are to have mild hair loss . More rarely, hair loss can be moderate or severe:
Extent of hair loss
% of women affected
No hair loss
There aren’t many approved treatments for postpartum hair loss. However, there are some things you can do to promote healthy regrowth if you experience postpartum hair loss. Some suggestions for postpartum hair loss treatment include the following:
Waiting for your hair to grow back can be frustrating. Fortunately, there are ways to hide thinning hair while you wait:
Postpartum hair loss can be worrying while it’s happening. Although there may not be a way to prevent postpartum hair loss, the good news is that it’s almost always temporary, and will grow back in a few months.
If your hair loss lingers or doesn’t seem to be growing back, it’s a good idea to speak to your GP. They’ll be able to perform hair loss blood tests to diagnose or rule out any underlying conditions contributing to your hair loss, such as an autoimmune disorder, thyroid condition, or vitamin deficiency. There’s a slightly higher risk of developing a thyroid problem or iron deficiency after pregnancy .
If your tests come back clear and you’re still concerned about your hair loss, book a free consultation with a London hair loss clinic. Our teams can help you diagnose your specific hair loss condition, whether it’s chronic telogen effluvium or female pattern baldness. We’ll then help you create a tailored treatment plan to get your hair on the road to recovery.
Simply fill in your details in the form below and we'll get in touch with you shortly.