how long does postpartum hair loss last?

Many changes take place in a woman's body during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. Postpartum hair loss is one of the more common ones. As with many other symptoms and conditions of pregnancy, shifting levels of hormones during pregnancy and after giving birth may be what's behind your postpartum hair loss. If you are experiencing hair loss, know that you are not alone, and that it is usually temporary. Being pregnant and giving birth is hard work, and it can take some time for your body to recover. Before long, your hair will likely return to normal. Read on to discover what causes postpartum hair loss, how long it usually lasts, and what you can try that might help prevent some of it.

What Is Postpartum Hair Loss?

Many women experience some hair loss a few months after giving birth. You might notice that you're losing a little from all over your head, or you might spot a little more falling out around the hairline across your forehead. Although you may feel worried about it, this kind of hair loss is typical during the postpartum period. As your hormones settle down, the effects of pregnancy-related hormonal changes on your body will slowly subside and your hair will return to normal.

What Causes Hair Loss After Giving Birth?

Pregnancy hormones can affect your body in a number of different ways. You may have noticed, for example, that your hair became thicker when you were pregnant. A hormone called placental estrogen was responsible for this, making your hair grow faster and be less likely to fall out. However, after you give birth (or sometimes after you stop breastfeeding), you may find that all that hair you didn’t lose during your pregnancy now starts to come loose and shed. This is why you may experience postpartum hair loss in the months after giving birth. Essentially, the hair that didn’t fall out during pregnancy, which otherwise would have, is now falling out. In a way, although it may seem like hair “loss,” it’s actually things returning to normal. By the way, these same pregnancy hormones may also mean that you find your hair is oilier or drier than usual, or even a slightly different color both during pregnancy and in the period afterward.

When Does Postpartum Hair Loss Start?

Postpartum hair loss typically starts a few months after you give birth, often at about three months post-delivery.

How Long Does Postpartum Hair Loss Last?

It can differ from person to person, but postpartum hair loss usually lasts no more than three months, and starts growing back in about six months after the birth of your baby. At about 12 months after giving birth, your hair should be back to the way it was before you were pregnant.

How to Stop or Prevent Postpartum Hair Loss

If the hair loss you’re experiencing is caused by hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth, the hair loss may simply stop on its own without any treatment at all. Still, there are steps you can take to help prevent some of the hair loss:

  • Get enough vitamins and nutrients by eating lots of fruits and vegetables (your healthcare provider may be able to recommend specific foods to add to your diet)

  • Be gentle when you wash and brush your hair

  • Don’t wear tight hairdos that can pull on your hair

  • Use only the cool setting on your hair dryer.

Above all, try to be patient with yourself. You have lots on your plate right now and there might not be much more you can do than wait it out. For some tips on handling your hair, you might like to try some of these easy hair styling cheats for new moms.

When to Visit Your Healthcare Provider

If you notice that your hair loss is particularly severe or that you’ve been shedding hair for longer than about half a year, it might be time to see your healthcare provider.

In some cases, a thyroid issue such as having an underactive thyroid may be causing the hair loss. Some thyroid conditions are also linked to pregnancy or the postpartum period. If your healthcare provider diagnoses a thyroid condition, she will be able to offer you treatment.

As you already know all too well, pregnancy and the postpartum period are filled with lots of wondrous—and not so wondrous—changes in your body. Although it may seem as if there’s no end to how many ways your body is changing, when it comes to your hair things will soon return to normal.

How We Wrote this Article

The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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