A WOMAN’S BODY GOES THROUGH MANY CHANGES DURING PREGNANCY, CAUSING A TEMPORARY HAIR LOSS CONDITION CALLED “TELOGEN EFFLUVIUM”.
Otherwise known as telogen effluvium, hair loss following childbirth is quite common, and it’s also common for the hair to grow back after a few months.
When it comes to what your body goes through, having a baby is quite a shocking experience, in general. Then add sleepless nights, adjusting your marriage, new household routines, hormone fluctuations and who needs the worry about the handful of hair that comes out in the shower? Hair loss of any kind is always startling because you never expect it, but it usually means something else in your body is going on. That pang of fear you feel when you see a clump of hair in your hand or splayed out across your pillow in the morning is just as normal as the postpartum hair loss itself.
Here are five facts about postpartum hair loss:
Postpartum hair loss is normal
Rest assured, if you’ve just had a baby, it’s normal to lose some hair as your body adjusts. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), postpartum hair loss can happen to 40 to 50 percent of women and is most common around three months after delivery.
It’s technically called telogen effluvium
The second most common form of any hair loss is the excessive delayed shedding of hair that occurs one to six months following a sudden emotional or physical trauma, such as pregnancy, loss of a loved one, a severe accident, a major surgery or even a hair transplant. “The postpartum type of hair loss and delayed shedding is the most common type of telogen effluvium I see,” explains Dr. Valerie Callender, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and director of the Callender Skin & Laser Center in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
Estrogen keeps hair growing during pregnancy
The APA Web site notes that during pregnancy the level of estrogen hormones in your body increases, which causes hair follicles to remain in the growing phase and stimulates the healthy growth of your hair. During your pregnancy you may notice that your hair looks especially full and healthy.
The birth shocks your hair back into its normal growth cycle
When hair’s normal growth cycle, which occurs in stages, gets disrupted for any reason, it can get stuck in one of the stages. In this case, once hormones return to normal after the delivery of your baby, hair follicles get shocked back into the normal cycle and can get stuck in the telogen, or resting, phase, pushing out all the resting hairs at one time. This results in delayed shedding, which you may notice suddenly in your shower or on your pillow.
Postpartum hair loss is reversible
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, postpartum hair loss is usually reversible once your body readjusts and the stress or trauma subsides. While there is no medication that can prevent your hair from falling out, it should regrow completely within three to six months.
Since there is nothing you can do to prevent postpartum hair loss, and because we don’t know why some women are more susceptible than others, the APA advises that you take some precautions to keep your hair and body as healthy as possible while they adjust to both your pregnancy and the delivery of your baby.
- If your hair loss is worrying you, have your OB-GYN check your hormone levels.
- Avoid tight hairstyles, such as pigtails, ponytails, buns and cornrows, since these can put excessive pressure on shocked follicles and cause additional fall-out and follicle inflammation or secondary infections.
- Be gentle in caring for fragile hair, especially when it is wet. Use heated appliances on the coolest setting.
- Pay attention to nutrition and keep your diet high in proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Check with your doctor about vitamin and mineral supplementation, if necessary.
- Don’t worry. Stress can have an effect on hair follicles, and postpartum hair loss usually reverses itself within a few months.