The postpartum stage is the period right after you have given birth to your child. You are bound to notice a few changes owing to the reversion of the body to its normal state after the pregnancy.
One of the changes you may notice is the loss of hair. This article deals with the loss of hair after giving birth, what causes it and what to do about it.
What causes postpartum hair loss?
- What causes postpartum hair loss?
- Extreme or severe hair loss after pregnancy
- How long does postpartum hair loss last?
- How to stop postpartum hair loss
- Home remedies for postpartum hair loss
- How to prevent hair loss after childbirth
You may have noticed that your hair grew quite thicker and longer during your pregnancy. When the pregnancy is over, what you will notice with your hair won’t be you going bald but the hair simply reverting to its normal state.
Unless the hair loss is quite excessive, you need not worry about it. The most likely causes for loss of hair after giving birth include;
1. Postpartum depression and stress
While you would have just had your bundle of joy, there is a lot that will stress you up.
First of all, there would be a lot of hormonal changes in your body that will upset it thus causing stress. The hormones present in your body during pregnancy will drop sharply in amount after giving birth hence stressing you up.
You may thus feel worn out, easily irritable and depressed more than usual.
Secondly, you will be on an emotional rollercoaster upon giving birth. First, you will be likely sleepless taking care of the baby. This is natural as you will subconsciously be working hard not to come short of providing the best care for your baby.
Besides that, the physical changes you would experience will make you feel less attractive (you aren’t) hence the stress and depression. You may also feel like you have lost control of your life.
Any of these issues can stress you out leading to the loss of hair. The level of stress can be quite intense if it is your first baby. Proper stress management should keep you and your baby healthy and in the process prevent the loss of hair.
2. Thyroiditis and postpartum hair loss
Thyroiditis is the inflammation of the thyroid glands hence the hampering of their normal functioning. There is a myriad of thyroiditis types all of which stem from the dysfunction of the thyroid glands.
Postpartum thyroiditis is the one to focus on here given that it occurs after the birth of a baby.
Postpartum thyroiditis causes a temporary condition of thyrotoxicosis or hyperthyroidism which is then succeeded by hypothyroidism. These changes affect the growth and loss of hair in various ways since the thyroid gland plays an important role in the amount of hair you will have.
To treat this condition, you will need the doctor to focus their treatment on the thyroid gland. The doctor will also need to gather other symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism such as;
- Poor exercise tolerance
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
3. Hormonal changes
The growth and loss of hair are done in cycles. At one given time, your hair is growing while some of it is being shed off.
During the normal times (such as when you are not pregnant), about 90 percent of your hair would be growing while the rest would be resting. The resting hair is often shed off with about 100 hairs being lost a day.
When you are pregnant, the high estrogen hormone levels promote the growth of hair with very little of it being lost. You will thus notice a lot of thick and more beautiful hair during your pregnancy.
When the pregnancy comes to an end, the levels of the estrogen hormone plumate. This leads to the massive loss of hair until your body reverts to its normal position.
It is thus a temporary loss of hair and while you shouldn’t expect to have the thick hair back, your normal volume of hair will soon be restored.
Anemia is the lack of iron in the body. Having too little iron in the body can lead to many issues such as;
- Loss of hair
- Brittle nails
- Pica which is the craving of non-food items such as ice
- Frequent infections
- Shortness of breath and many others.
You are likely to be anemic if you are pregnant hence the likelihood of losing hair when you give birth. If you notice these symptoms, let your doctor know about them.
Extreme or severe hair loss after pregnancy
Generally, the amount of hair you stand to lose after giving birth isn’t much. While you will notice more hair on the floor or the bathroom or in your hairbrush, you should not lose so much hair that you go almost bald.
If this is the case, you should check it up with your doctor since you could be having another issue that causes the hair loss.
Hair loss 4 months postpartum
The loss of hair after giving birth occurs mostly from around the third month and goes on up to the sixth month. During this period, you are likely to experience more and more loss of hair. However, after the 6th month, the hair should start growing back.
This means that losing hair 4 months postpartum is totally normal. This is because, at this time, the hormones would be reverting back to their normal levels.
The loss of hair is not intensive right after birth given that it takes a while for the hormones to reduce in amount to their normal levels.
How long does postpartum hair loss last?
Postpartum hair loss will take about three months although there are cases of this case taking place for about six months.
When does postpartum hair loss start?
The loss of hair after giving birth will start about the third month after giving birth. At this time, the reduction in the pregnancy hormones (mostly estrogen) would have gone down so much for there to be physical evidence.
This period is subjective given that you can start losing hair either earlier or later than the third month. It will depend on how much estrogen you had during your pregnancy, how much hair you had accumulated during your pregnancy, and how fast the level of this hormone will drop.
When does postpartum hair loss stop?
Postpartum hair loss should end about the sixth month after giving birth. The length of the hair loss will depend on many factors since you might lose hair for a month or less while another person will lose theirs for a longer time.
Others would have already had their hair back by the sixth month from the birth of their babies.
If however, you would not have regrown your hair by the time you celebrate your baby’s first birthday, you need to have a checkup done by your doctor.
It could be that another issue caused the loss of hair and not necessarily the pregnancy.
How to stop postpartum hair loss
Although it is almost inevitable to lose hair after giving birth, there are ways in which you can minimize this loss. Most of the preventive measures are simple routines which you should include in your hair care.
First of all, you need to take sufficient amounts of vitamins. While fruits, vegetables, and other foods have a lot of vitamins to keep off hair loss, you will need supplements as they provide specific vitamins needed by your body after a pregnancy.
As you breastfeed, you will need a lot of nutrients to provide them to your child. The same nutrients are needed by other parts of the body such as the skin and the formation of hair and nails.
The body will pick the production of milk over the formation of hair. To provide enough nutrients for all bodily processes, you will need to take supplements.
Supplements to keep your hair after giving birth can range from vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed by the body. During your pregnancy, your body will use up most of the nutrients in the body hence the need to supplement them.
Besides helping you keep your hair, the supplements will help prevent diseases which occur due to the insufficiency of some nutrients. Diseases such as anemia will be prevented by taking enough iron supplements. Anemia is also known to cause loss of hair.
● Avoid heat
Since your hair would be quite delicate after giving birth, you need to avoid heat at all costs. That means no blow-dry and dry irons. For even better results, avoid all hair treatment methods based on chemicals. These include straightening, perms, and highlights.
You can resume using these methods when the hair shedding has stopped. When you do resume, start mildly since you never really know when the shedding has fully come to an end.
Shampooing your hair the right way also contributes greatly to your retention of hair after giving birth.
First, you should reduce the number of times you shampoo your hair to the bare minimum. Shampoo it only when necessary. Also, use a mild shampoo since the scalp would be quite sensitive.
When combing your hair, use a comb with widely spaced teeth to avoid pulling out hair from the scalp.
When holding the hair together, avoid using rubber bands and instead use barrettes and scrunchies. Above everything, avoid tying the hair too tightly as you would be literally uprooting the now-delicate hair.
Whatever method you pick on to prevent losing your hair after giving birth, always keep an eye on the amount of hair you would be losing. If it is too much, talk to your doctor.
Treatments for postpartum hair loss focus on treating the root problem that leads to the loss of hair in the first place. They are as follows;
- If you are suffering from anemia, you will be given iron supplements to restore the level of iron in the body.
- Thyrotoxicosis will require the use of beta blockers to prevent the effects of this condition on the hair and the body as a whole.
- If it is a case of hypothyroidism, you will need hormone therapy to restore the hormone levels.
- For hyperthyroidism, you will be put on antithyroid medication or text radioactive iodine therapy.
- Surgery for the thyroid glands may also be carried out.
- If the cause of the hair loss is depression and stress, you may be advised to take relaxants to reduce the stress.
Home remedies for postpartum hair loss
Besides the treatments mentioned above, you have a few remedies you can carry out on your own at home. These include;
- Nutrient supplements that are readily available in pharmacies will help you replenish selenium, zinc, vitamins B, C and E.
- Biotin, which is a simply a vitamin B compound, is also easily available for home use. It helps build healthier hair, nails, and the skin.
- Yeast can also be used to provide stronger hair owing to it containing riboflavin, folic acid, and biotin. At times, beer is also used to wash hair.
- The He Shou Wu-HK herb is a Chinese herb full of zinc and anti-inflammatory properties. It can also be used to reverse the greying of your hair.
Given that you would also be breastfeeding, only use any drug or remedy after consulting with your doctor.
How to prevent hair loss after childbirth
You can practice the following routines to prevent your hair from falling off after pregnancy;
- Get a shorter haircut since you would be disturbing your hair less when it is shorter.
- Avoid strong chemicals for your hair.
- Try different hairstyles to make your hair look fuller.
- Do not use brushes and combs that pull hair out.
- Keep off heat treatment for your hair by avoiding blow post-dry and others.
You should keep in mind that you should have your hair back to normal at least by the 12th month after giving birth.
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