Being a new mom can be one of the most emotionally rewarding — and challenging — experiences a woman faces. And while you may have anticipated your body to go through a whirlwind of changes, you may not have expected your hair to start falling out in clumps.
Also referred to as postpartum hair loss, telogen gravidarum, and telogen effluvium, excessive hair shedding after childbirth (which would occur anywhere between two and four months after giving birth) can affect between 40 and 50 percent of women, according to statistics from the American Pregnancy Association.
“When a woman is pregnant, she has a lot of extra hormones in the body, including estrogen,” says Christine Carlan Greves, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist in Orlando, Florida. “The estrogen helps protect us from losing our hair. Then when she has the baby, there’s a sudden change in the hormone levels, including a drop in the estrogen. And this shift can cause a response in the body that may affect the hair cycle.”
Hair loss is a normal occurrence for a woman after a pregnancy. Telogen effluvium is the medical term for post-pregnancy hair loss, which happens to nearly 50 percent of women after they give birth. A temporary condition, this hair loss should not cause a woman to become bald or experience visibly thin spots.
Use these tips to reduce or prevent hair loss after pregnancy.
- Avoid hairstyles that pull or stretch your hair. Braids, cornrows, weaves or tight rollers can pull hair and cause stress and trauma to your scalp. Hair that is excessively pulled is more likely to fall out naturally, without the extra issue of telogen effluvium affecting your hair growth cycle.
- Maintain a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are not only naturally health, but they also contain flavonoids and antioxidants that protect hair follicles. Additionally, these foods encourage increased hair growth, which can offset any hair lost after pregnancy.
- Add vitamins and nutrients to your diet. Vitamin B complex, vitamins E and C, zinc and biotin help increase hair strength and health. Take extra supplements or eat foods rich in these nutrients and vitamins to help retain pre-pregnancy locks. Try Nature’s Bounty Optimal Solutions Hair, Skin & Nails Formula which gets great reviews.
- Select a shampoo with quality ingredients. Shampoos that contain biotin or silica improve hair health and stimulate follicle growth. Use this shampoo regularly and rinse with cold water.
- Comb your wet hair with a wide-toothed comb. A wide-toothed comb reduces the amount of pulling and stress you apply to your hair as you attempt to remove tangles after washing it. Excessive pulling of your hair can increase the chances of it falling out.
- Reduce the use of heated styling tools. Heated styling tools like curling irons, hot rollers, flat irons and blow dryers dry hair out and may increase hair loss. Allow your hair to air dry and style it naturally. If you must use heated styling tools, use the coolest settings possible or give your hair a cool shot of air afterward with your hair dryer.
- Trim split ends. Split ends cause your hair to be less healthy. Unhealthy hair is shed in larger amounts than healthy hair.
- Avoid stress. Having a new baby to take care of can create more stress in your life, but try to avoid additional stressful situations or feelings. Stress can cause your hair to fall out or decrease in thickness. Avoid stress to increase your chances of retaining more of your pre-pregnancy hair
- Get a shorter haircut. Long hair weighs more and pulls from your scalp with its constant downward pull. Shorter haircuts cause less pressure to your hair follicles, which will decrease chances of increased shedding. A shorter hairstyle may cause your hair to look fuller and healthier, in addition to being easier to take care of than longer styles.
Take it easy and good luck new moms!