Your Guide to Postpartum Hair Loss

You might notice some excessive shedding soon after welcoming your baby, and that’s totally normal. Here’s what new parents need to know about postpartum hair loss. 

Postpartum hair loss can be a normal part of having a baby. During pregnancy, you might have been blessed with a thick and lustrous mane of hair. After having the baby, however, your locks may start shedding excessively. This normal symptom is a result of hormonal changes in the body after giving birth. So how long does postpartum hair loss last, and can you prevent it from happening? Keep reading to learn more.

What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?

Postpartum hair loss is not considered true hair loss because you're really just shedding extra hair that you gained (and kept) during pregnancy. Everyone sheds, says dermatologist Sejal Shah, M.D., but pregnancy changes things up. "There are lots of hormonal shifts happening, and one thing that those hormonal shifts do is promote hair growth," Dr. Shah explains. In other words, pregnancy hormones actually prevent you from normal day-to-day shedding.

Once your hormones return to normal after pregnancy, there's a drop in estrogen, which causes hair shedding to resume. But keep in mind: You've stopped shedding for several months, so the hair that's been sticking to your head needs to come out, explains Dr. Shah. This phenomenon is called telogen effluvium.

Close-Up Of Woman With Hair Loss Problem
Pongsak Tawansaeng/EyeEm/Getty Images

When Does Postpartum Hair Loss Start?

"Generally with telogen effluvium, there's some sort of event—in this situation it's giving birth, but there can be other causes. Basically, a larger amount of your hair than normal is triggered to enter this resting/shedding phase," says Dr. Shah. It takes about three months for that hair to shed out, she adds, which is why most people notice postpartum hair loss around three months after delivery.

Hair might fall out all around your head, or clumps may come loose when you brush it or shower. Some postpartum people simply lose some strands around their hairline, so their hair looks very fine in the front as if they're balding, says Stephanie Scuoppo, a hairstylist at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon and Spa in New York City.

How Long Does Postpartum Hair Loss Last?

While there are exceptions, Dr. Shah reassures that most of the time, hair loss will spontaneously normalize. "The time to recovery varies. In some people it's three months, in some people it's six months. Occasionally it can last a year," Dr. Shah says.

Postpartum hair loss is a temporary phase, and it's unlikely that your hair will go from extra-thick to barely there. Don't fret if your hair starts feeling extra thin. That said, everyone's hormonal shift will manifest differently. "It's a very natural process," Dr. Shah says.

How to Prevent Postpartum Hair Loss

Can you stop postpartum hair loss? Probably not, but you might be able to control it. According to Dr. Shah, good nutrition is essential after giving birth, and it can help keep your hair strong, healthy, and intact (at least to some degree). Don't skimp on your protein and iron intake!

That said, if the shedding seems out of the ordinary, you may want to check with a doctor. They may test you for thyroid disorders or other health issues.

Dealing With Postpartum Hair Loss

Are you desperate for a postpartum hair loss treatment? Here's how to keep your mane looking its best during this strange transition.

Try a new cut and color

First and foremost, visit a stylist for professional advice, says Scuoppo. They may recommend a different hairstyle that incorporates those fine hairs in the front. If you previously had long hair, or a layered cut with pieces that came down to the chin in the front, you may need to shorten it into long bangs that frame the face.

Celebrity stylist Oribe (whose clients include Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow) agrees that it's a good idea to go shorter in the front. Sexy, short-in-the-middle, longer-at-the-sides bangs would look amazing, says Oribe. Layering your hair all over will also give you more fullness.

Coloring your hair can also give it body, says Scuoppo. If you feel that your hairline is receding and you have dark hair, highlighting the front can act as camouflage. Or try glossing, a treatment that gives hair an all-over shine.

Keep hair moussed and moist

Oribe also says that using the right products can give the illusion of fullness. Look for a volumizing mousse at the drugstore or salon. Always use a conditioner or a leave-in hair moisturizer after shampooing.

Change your part

If you normally part your hair in the middle, try a side part to disguise thinning hair at the temples.

Add texture

Sleek, straight hairstyles make thinning hair more obvious. If you usually blow out your curly or wavy hair, consider going with your natural curl. If you have straight hair, try using Velcro rollers or a curling iron to give your locks some oomph, says Scuoppo.

Wear those hair accessories

Headbands, scarves, and bandannas are fun and stylish ways to disguise postpartum hair loss. They're especially popular with new parents who have little time to devote to hair care!

Updated by Zara Hanawalt
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