About 90% of women experience postnatal, also known as postpartum, or post-pregnancy hair loss. For some it is milder than others, barely noticeable, while other new mothers lose fistfuls of hair. Notwithstanding, losing hair is never pleasant and almost always worrying. New mothers have 101 concerns on their hands, so here we shed some light and explain hormonal fluctuations at play that can lead to hair loss after pregnancy.
(And also, we are hoping that knowledge and education on the subject will help reduce some of those worries for new mothers!)
The mighty hormonal duo
During pregnancy, placenta works hard to produce additional oestrogen and progesterone supporting female body and healthy growth of the fetus. However almost immediately after childbirth, specifically – the ejection of the placenta – progesterone levels return to pre-pregnancy levels. However, oestrogen levels after pregnancy remain at the same high level, resulting in what is called oestrogen dominance – the effect that can cause moodiness from such hormonal imbalance.
The effect of this postnatal hormonal homeostasis on hair growth is similar to that caused by stress. where significantly higher proportion of hair follicles enters telogen – shedding and resting – stage. Such effect was described as stress-related telogen effluvium. Normally 10-15% of your hair follicles is in telogen – resting – phase. During pregnancy this number decreases dramatically meaning that although the number of your hair follicles doesn’t increase, more of them are in anagen – growth – stage. Simply put, more hair stays on your scalp. This leads to expectant mothers to have more of the thicker, lustrous hair which pregnancy period is known for. Source
After pregnancy, all the extra hair follicles that should have been in telogen stage but weren’t – enter the telogen phase. This is in addition to the usual proportion of follicles already naturally in telogen as part of the usual hair growth cycle. While it creates an impression of horrid hair loss that will never stop, once hormones balance themselves and hair follicles naturally enter anagen – the hair loss will decrease. An average duration of telogen stage is 3 months, after which hair follicle enters anagen stage again. Source
Back to normal
On average people lose 100-125 hair strands a day, however in postnatal stage this number can increase 4 fold. Such cumulative simultaneous shedding can inadvertently lead to worry over going bald. However, in most cases, hair loss rate returns to pre-pregnancy levels and hair follicles enter anagen. The good news are – your hair will start growing, but slightly less good news – it won’t be the super-natural mane you might have grown out during the pregnancy. After 3-6 months, your hair loss rate should return to normal and in most cases you don’t need to do anything else to regulate that. If excessive hair shedding continues well after that period, it is worth checking with your GP to ensure there are no other factors at play.
What can you do?
To stimulate your hair follicles in their hair growing task, you can consider massaging you scalp, taking supplements, especially those rich with vitamin C – here we sang an ode to Vitamin C and explained its role in promoting healthy hair growth. It stands together with a balanced nutrition and sufficient consumption of proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates.
While this may sound patronising, knowing that postpartum hair loss is a temporary issue can be helpful of itself. Education and knowledge can provide comfort in knowing that this one of the inevitable parts of being a new mom and your life (and hair) will return to normal.
It is understandably challenging to spin all the plates once your baby is born, and incorporating even a small degree of self-care amidst the joys and challenges of motherhood – is hard. If you are contemplating to onboard The Hair Fuel journey to help your post natal hair loss, those weekly 45-60 minutes of applying the mask, can serve as a little ritual that you dedicate to yourself, and nobody else. In between changing nappies, nipping out to the store and / or responding to work emails – you devicate your time to the real hero in the picture. You.
Have you experienced post pregnancy hair loss? Tell us in comments below.