Pregnancy and Childbearing are hard enough. Why do women experience hair loss after pregnancy?

What does postpartum hair loss look like?

Many new moms notice hair loss around three months postpartumWhile it may be pretty jarring to see 300 or more hairs shedding each day, the good news is, this is pretty reversible. For a clearer visual illustration, normal hair loss per day amounts to about 50-100 strands of hair. New mothers can shed up to 400! 

Normally, around 85-95% of your hair is in the growth phase at any point in time, but the hormonal changes during pregnancy stimulate an increase in the percentage of hairs in the growth phase. As a result, many women enjoy thicker hair during pregnancy, as more hairs than normal are growing and fewer are resting or shedding. 

What causes hair loss after giving birth?

With the birth of baby and significant hormonal change, larger numbers of hair enter the resting phase. Since the resting phase is followed by hair shedding, many new mothers will experience greater than normal hair loss once the resting phase ends. 

The hair loss can seem more extreme if your hair grew much more than normal during pregnancy, or if you have long hair. Most women will return to their usual hair growth cycle within six months, or between 6 to 12 months after birth. However, inadequate rest and nutritional deficiency which are common amongst new moms, may prolong the wait for the hair growth cycle to resume tnormalcy.  

Other health concerns which may result in hair loss in women may include: 

Thyroid problems 

Thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism may be difficult to spot during pregnancy. Hypothyroidism is a common disorder affecting some2 or 3 in every 100 pregnant women. Hair loss is one of the major symptoms, along with muscle cramps, constipation, and exhaustion. Around 1 in 20 women may also experience thyroid issues (postpartum thyroiditis) after the baby is born. In the majority of the cases, hair growth will resume once the underlying cause of the hypothyroidism is addressed and resolved. 

Iron deficiency 

Iron deficiency happens when you do not have enough red blood cells to get oxygen to different tissues in the body. It can cause hair thinning along with other symptoms, like fatigue, irregular heartbeat, exertional shortness of breath, and headache. Pregnant women are at a heightened risk of developing iron deficiency anemia, especially if their pregnancies are spaced close together, they’re pregnant with multiples, or if they have severe morning sickness. This condition can also be diagnosed with a blood test. While hair loss with these conditions aren’t permanent, your hair may not return to its normal thickness until hormone or vitamin levels have returned to normal ranges. 

In conclusion, postpartum hair loss is a common phenomenon experienced by many women after giving birth, typically occurring around three months postpartum. This shedding, though alarming, is a reversible process linked to hormonal fluctuations and the transition of hair follicles into the resting phase. While the majority of women will return to their normal hair growth cycle within six to twelve months after childbirth, factors such as inadequate rest, nutritional deficiencies, thyroid disorders, or iron deficiency may prolong the recovery period. Understanding the causes and effects of postpartum hair loss can help new mothers navigate this temporary yet challenging aspect of the postpartum experience with greater ease and confidence.