What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?
New mothers commonly experience noticeable hair loss within a few months after giving birth, a phenomenon called “postpartum hair loss.” In this article, we will discuss what postpartum hair loss is and what causes postpartum hair loss.
What Is Postpartum Hair Loss?
“Postpartum” means the time after childbirth. Postpartum hair loss is a common phenomenon in which new mothers experience hair loss after giving birth.
What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?
Postpartum hair loss may be alarming, but it is actually quite normal. Postpartum hair loss is actually not true hair loss, but a type of excessive hair shedding that is caused by falling estrogen levels. (1)
To understand what causes postpartum hair loss, it is helpful to understand the natural growth cycle of hair. Your hair grows from the tiny hair follicles on your skin and scalp and is continuously growing and shedding. There are three phases to the hair growth cycle:
• The anagen phase, or the phase of active hair growth.
• The catagen phase, the transitional phase when hair follicles become smaller.
• The telogen phase, the resting phase when hair growth ceases.
Following the telogen phase, the hair follicle releases the hair, and the hair falls out, starting over again at the anagen phase. (2)
When pregnant, certain hormones in the body can cause hairs in the anagen, or growing phase, to enter into the telogen or resting phase. Since the resting phase lasts for several months before hair is shed, many women notice their hair shedding a few months after their pregnancy.
When Does Postpartum Hair Loss Start?
Postpartum hair loss, or postpartum hair shedding, typically occurs several months after childbirth. Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy cause the phases of hair growth to shift from the growth phase to the resting phase. After several months of being in the resting phase, the hair follicles eventually release the hair, resulting in hair shedding. Exactly when postpartum hair loss starts can differ from person to person, but typically peak hair shedding for new mothers occurs around four to five months after childbirth.
When Does Postpartum Hair Loss Stop?
Exactly when postpartum hair loss stops also differs from person to person, but on average, most women regain their normal hair growth within a year after giving birth.
How Long Does Postpartum Hair Loss Last?
Postpartum hair loss typically lasts around six months to one year. On average, new mothers experience excessive hair shedding at about four to five months postpartum and regain normal hair growth by their child’s first birthday.
How to Prevent Postpartum Hair Loss
It is important to understand that postpartum hair loss is completely normal. In most cases, normal hair growth should return in several months. Still, there are some ways to potentially prevent postpartum hair loss.
Prevention of postpartum hair shedding typically focuses on optimizing hormonal health and balance through natural dietary and lifestyle practices. While these habits and practices can decrease the likelihood that you will get postpartum hair loss, there are no guarantees.
The top recommended tips for supporting hormonal balance and preventing postpartum hair loss include:
1. Exercise Regularly
Regular, gentle-to-moderate exercises—such as walking, yoga, stretching, etc.—are a great way to support hormonal health during pregnancy. Just make sure to avoid strenuous exercise, especially the further along you are in your pregnancy. You can consult with your doctor about the best type of exercise for you during pregnancy.
2. Eat a Whole Food Diet
Your diet plays a major role in your hormonal balance, your physical health, and the health of your child. During pregnancy, it is important to focus on eating plenty of healthy, nutrient-rich foods and to avoid foods with harmful toxins or chemicals in them.
Some of the top nutrients to focus on include:
• Healthy fats
• High-quality carbohydrates
You can meet the majority of your nutrient needs by eating a whole-food diet rich in whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and high-quality animal foods.
It is also important to avoid foods with harmful toxins in them. Not only do you want to protect your health and the health of your child, but many of the harmful chemicals in food products today have estrogen-mimicking properties, which can disrupt your hormonal balance and increase your risk of postpartum hair loss.
If there is anything to prioritize during and after pregnancy, it is the quality of your diet. Eat nutrient-rich, healthy, and organic foods, and avoid nutrient-depleted foods with toxic chemicals and industrial seed oils. Examples of foods that commonly contain harmful ingredients include:
• Processed foods
• Packaged junk foods (cookies, candy, chips, etc.)
• Refined grains
• Processed sugar
• Processed meats (bacon, sausage, hot dogs)
• Foods grown with pesticides
• Foods containing GMOs or bioengineered ingredients
• Soda and soft drinks
• Fast food
Not only can certain foods expose you to hormone-disrupting chemicals, but even certain materials, household items, and other store-bought products, such as:
• Toxic cookware (aluminum, non-stick, Teflon, etc.)
• Harsh cleaning agents (bleach, common detergents)
• Toxic makeup or beauty products
• Plastic water bottles or food storage containers
• Chemical fragrances
• Toxic chemicals in furniture, carpet, or paint
You may not be able to avoid all of the toxins that you are exposed to, but you can certainly reduce and limit the number of toxins you are exposed to by consciously avoiding harmful chemicals in products and choosing to buy natural alternatives. There are plenty of natural foods, cookware, cleaning products, beauty products, and hygiene products that can help you reduce your toxic exposure.
Additionally, by eating healthier, you can support your immune system so it is better equipped to fight off the toxins that you are exposed to.
3. Supplement with Essential Nutrients Postpartum
One of the best things you can do to prevent postpartum hair loss is to supplement with essential nutrients. Pregnancy is a beautiful time of life for a woman, but it can also be quite taxing on the body. Making sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs can help you stay healthy during this significant time. Some of the top nutrients to focus on for supplementation are:
• Amino acids
• B vitamins
• Vitamin C
• Trace minerals
We created our Complete Essential Daily Nutrients Protocol to help people meet their daily nutritional needs. B vitamins and Vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins, meaning that they are not stored by the body, but must be continually supplied through our diet. The body simply uses these vitamins as needed and discards the rest through our urine—unlike fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which are stored in our fat.
While it is of course important to focus on getting all of your nutrients, it is especially important to ensure you get sufficient water-soluble nutrients each day to avoid deficiencies.
4. Keep Stress Levels Low
Stress can have a detrimental effect on your health, especially on your hormonal health. Pregnancy can be a stressful time for some mothers, but it is important to find healthy ways to manage and reduce your stress so you can stay healthy and balanced. Some helpful, relaxing practices include:
• Gentle stretching
• Nature walks
• Listening to relaxing music
• Limiting news and social media
• Spending time with loved ones
5. Nourish Your Scalp Microbiome
In addition to the above-mentioned tips, you can support your hair health and prevent hair loss by using a natural shampoo that focuses on improving scalp microbiome health. Your scalp microbiome is the community of bacteria that live on your scalp. Beneficial microbes actually play many roles in supporting hair health and fighting off harmful bacteria. A non-toxic scalp microbiome shampoo will be the best shampoo for postpartum hair loss because it helps to strengthen and nourish the hair.
We recently created a non-toxic Organic Scalp Microbiome Shampoo and Conditioner that contains beneficial probiotics and enzymes, exotic fruits and herbal extracts, artesian spring water and antioxidants, and other beneficial ingredients for supporting hair health. Our shampoo and conditioner products are also hypoallergenic and completely biodegradable.
Treating Postpartum Hair Loss
There is no postpartum hair loss treatment, but you can prevent postpartum hair loss by following the steps above. You can also nourish your body and support new hair growth if postpartum hair loss occurs.
It is important to understand that postpartum hair loss is normal and that is more a form of excessive hair shedding than true hair loss. Pregnancy is a time of great hormonal change. These changes in hormones can have an effect on your hair growth and may lead to excessive hair shedding. While this might be alarming, it is natural, and your hair will regrow. Prioritize healthy dietary and lifestyle habits to give your body the nutrients it needs to thrive.
If your hair is not growing back within a year of childbirth, or if you are having concerns about hair loss, it is recommended to schedule an appointment with a licensed dermatologist. They can address your concerns and help you find the best solutions for your individual circumstances.