Postpartum Hair Loss
Noticing changes to your hair thickness and consistency during and after pregnancy is very common.
While everyone is different, many women notice that their hair is thick and healthy when pregnant only to find that the opposite can be the case after the birth of the baby.
Postpartum hair loss is very common, where hair can appear to be much finer and wispy which can be quite distressing. The scientific name for post pregnancy hair loss is telogen effluvium. Some women also report changes in hair texture or type during pregnancy, such as from curly to straight or vice versa.
What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?
Hair loss in the postnatal period is primarily to do with a significant change in your hormones from when you were pregnant.
During pregnancy, your body produces more of the hormones that it needs to sustain the baby’s life, specifically oestrogen. Oestrogen is responsible for transferring nutrients to the baby and supporting its growth.
The extra oestrogen causes your hair to remain in the scalp in what's called a growth phase. This means that it doesn’t shed during pregnancy as it normally would. Hair that would normally fall out (about 80 - 100 strands per day), is retained, which results in thicker, more luxurious hair.
The significant drop in your oestrogen levels post pregnancy is what is responsible for the often dramatic amount of shedding and changes to your hair.
When does Postpartum Hair Loss Start?
This shedding process usually starts around 3 months after birth and lasts for 3 - 6 months.
Most women fully recover from postpartum hair loss, although it can take up to 15 months. During this time it’s really important to look after yourself properly as poor nutrition, lack of sleep and stress can contribute to poor hair regrowth in new mums.
Hair loss after pregnancy is normal, and normal growth will return but it’s important to know that sometimes it takes this new growth some time to catch up which means that hair might feel thinner than normal for a while.
Nutrients to Support Postpartum Hair Loss
It’s important to look after yourself properly at this time because you are growing completely new hair (not to mention all the other demands on your body and time with a new baby) which can only be as healthy as you are.
Postpartum is a time of change, during which the mother’s body is under additional pressure from breastfeeding and caring for a newborn.
Adequate sleep, which can be hard to come by, hydration and nutrition are all essential factors for healthy hair regrowth and getting back to feeling like yourself again.
There are 5 essential nutrients to support hair growth in the postnatal period:
A fibrous protein called keratin is the key structural material that makes up hair. Lack of protein in your diet can lead to limp, inelastic hair, and poor growth. Breastfeeding mums need twice as much protein in their diet as non-breastfeeding mums. It’s not directly linked to milk supply but it is very important for your body to function and thrive properly.
Baby’s nutritional needs usually get prioritised over Mama’s, especially in that sleep deprived postpartum haze - having a protein supplement that you can easily incorporate into a smoothie or have as a shake can make getting protein into your diet that bit more manageable. We love this Hemp Hero’s Vegan one, it’s delicious!
Biotin is a key ingredient for normal, healthy hair. Biotin is involved in assisting in the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and fats for efficient use by the body.
Vitamin B6 and folate (vitamin B9) support the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen and nutrients to all cells of the body. These are three key B vitamins needed for healthy hair. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are all rich sources of these B vitamins.
Selenium is a mineral powerhouse that is essential for healthy hair and hair growth. Low levels of selenium in the body are linked to hair loss.
Selenium is also a key nutrient for maintaining a healthy immune system. Selenium acts as an antioxidant in the body and fights against oxidative stress - hello healthy hair! Meat, shellfish, eggs, dairy products and Brazil nuts are all excellent sources of selenium in the diet.
Zinc is crucial for hair health. Zinc also acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells including hair cells, from stress from oxidation - oxidative stress is responsible for the degradation of cells including ageing. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, meat and oily fish are all good sources of zinc.
Vitamin C has a wide variety of functions in the body such as serving as an antioxidant, supporting immunity and aiding the absorption of iron in the body. It’s also used in the body to help support normal collagen formation, a structural protein that hair follicles need for optimal growth. Vitamin C also protects against free radical damage which can be a cause of hair to age prematurely. Broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, spinach and citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C in the diet.
Supplements for Postpartum Hair Loss
While focusing on getting the above nutrients from food, we recommend giving yourself a helping hand during this post pregnancy period to support your hair growth by supplementing with a high quality hair-growth focus supplement such as Born:Again by The Hair Vitamin Co. It contains all of the key vitamins and minerals mentioned above that support hair growth during this postpartum phase.