Almost everyone knows that pregnancy is followed by hair loss.
But every new mother who experiences hair loss, is invariably extremely distressed when her hair starts falling out in clumps after pregnancy.
Hair loss is depressing and frightening at any time, but when it happens after pregnancy and during the most stressful period of breastfeeding – it can be emotionally shattering.
One of the easiest ways to get over the emotional pain of hair fall after pregnancy, is to understand why the hair loss is occurring and how long it will last.
Why do you have hair loss after pregnancy?
Hair grows in 3 phases:
Phase 1 – Anagen. This is the active growing phase.
Phase 2 – Telogen. This is the resting phase.
Phase 3 – Catagen. This is the phase of degeneration
Under normal circumstances, 90% of the hair on your scalp is in the Anagen or active growing phase. 5–10 % of the hair is in the Telogen or resting phase. And 5–10 % of the hair is in the Catagen or degeneration phase.
During childbirth – because of hormonal fluctuations – a large number of hair strands enter the Telogen phase (30-50%). The telogen phase lasts for 3-5 months. When the Telogen phase ends, all the hair starts falling out.
This is the reason new moms start experiencing massive hair fall – around 3 to 5 months after childbirth.
This is called Telogen effluvium.
The hair comes out in clumps, in the shower or in your hairbrush.
There is thinning of hair all over the scalp, but more at the vertex and the edges.
How long will hair loss continue after childbirth?
The duration of hair loss will be the same as the normal duration of Telogen in your body.
In most people, the duration of Telogen is 1–6 months with an average of 3 months.
This will mean that hair loss will start 3–5 months after childbirth and go on for 3–6 months thereafter.
If hair loss continues even after your baby’s first birthday, you must get checked for hypothyroidism, iron deficiency and other problems.
Be aware that hair loss after pregnancy is diffused and the scalp is normal even during the hair loss.
If you find that you are losing hair in patches or you have dry broken hair, you may need to be examined for other diseases.
And if your scalp has scaling, pustules, crusts, erosions, redness or if you have pain or nodes in the neck, you must see the doctor immediately without delay.
What can you do while you wait for the hair loss to stop?
Eat a balanced healthy diet:
Your diet should be protein-rich and have good sources of iron.
- Get a good haircut –
A lot of women prefer to cut their hair short so that it looks thicker. You can also try layers to make it look more bouncy.
- Use hair products that create bulk –
A good shampoo, conditioner and mousse can help bulk up your hair.
- Meditate to reduce stress –
Hair fall that begins because of childbirth can continue indefinitely if you are too stressed. It is therefore important to reduce your stress, through meditation
- Get massages –
No particular oil is going to reduce the hair fall – but getting oil massages can help by relaxing you and reducing your stress – thereby stopping your hair from going into Telogen. Massages can also improve the blood circulation in your scalp thereby nourishing the hair follicles.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant and the founder of the website WPA whatparentsask.com – She is based in Bangalore and conducts Parenting workshops at schools and corporate organizations. She also conducts prenatal classes for expecting parents and infant care classes for new parents