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After you’ve given birth to your baby, there are a lot of things you expect to lose (especially the baby weight!). What you might not expect to lose is your hair. However, an estimated 40-50 percent of women experience greater-than-normal amounts of hair loss in the postpartum period, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

Just like most processes in your body, hair growth is influenced by hormones. Typically, hormones stimulate about 90 percent of your hair to grow and 10 percent of your hair follicles to rest. The resting follicles will fall out in about two to three months, at which time new hair growth will replace them. Since you lose a small fraction of hair at a time, you do not typically notice the hair loss.

Pregnancy, however, can change this typical growing pattern. The increased hormones in your body mean your hair grows at a faster rate and your hair stays at the resting phase longer than usual. This is why women find their hair appears thicker and fuller during pregnancy.

After you’ve had your baby, the increasing hormones start to subside and the hair you typically would have lost during pregnancy starts to fall out more quickly than usual. While this is nature’s way of helping your hair growth to return to normal, it can understandably cause some concern.

What’s normal:

  • Noticing more hairs than usual in your hairbrush
  • Your hair loss peaks at around the fourth month after your pregnancy
  • Your accelerated hair loss stops by your baby’s first birthday

What you should talk to your doctor about:

  • Hair loss that occurs in quarter-size patches
  • Hair loss you feel is excessive

In addition to following a healthy diet, there are some other steps you can take to reduce hair loss after pregnancy. These include avoiding extremely tight hairstyles that can accelerate hair loss, such as cornrows, braids, and hair rollers that are pulled too tightly.

Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, November 2018

Takeaways

  • During pregnancy, increased hormones mean your hair grows faster and sheds less often.
  • A decrease in pregnancy hormones means you may experience accelerated hair loss that typically peaks four months after you give birth.
  • Your hair growth patterns tend to return to normal roughly when your child reaches his or her first birthday.

References

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. Hair Loss Common After Childbirth.
  2. American Pregnancy Association. Hair Loss & Pregnancy.
  3. KidsHealth. 10 Things That Might Surprise You About Being Pregnant.
  4. March of Dimes. Hair Changes.

Comments

  1. I knew that hair loss after giving birth was fairly normal/common, but it’s nice to see the science behind why! A co-worker of mine warned me while I was still pregnant because she experienced extreme hair loss, and our pediatrician warned me at the 2-month well check. He said that both the baby and I might lose a lot of hair in the next few months but not to worry because it was normal. I’m really surprised that my OB/GYN didn’t explain it to me also. I started losing a lot of hair around 3-4 months postpartum, and around a year, it was pretty much back to normal. Now at 18 months postpartum, my hair still doesn’t feel as healthy as it did pre-pregnancy, but it is no longer falling out like crazy!

    Reply
  2. I don’t recall losing a lot of hair after my first pregnancy, but my second has been another story…it’s awful! My daughter is 7 months old now so I’m hoping it stops soon. Just one of the awesome things we women go through in order to have a child, but it’s totally worth it. 🙂

    Reply

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