Postpartum Hair Loss: Why New Moms Might Be Losing More Hair Than Expected

For many new moms, sudden hair loss can be unexpected and scary, however, the truth is that hair loss in new moms is no cause for concern. Many women experience perceptible hair loss after having a child. In fact, between 40 and 50 percent of women experience postpartum hair loss, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Despite concerns, postpartum hair loss is completely normal and often resolves itself in time.

What is postpartum hair loss?

Postpartum hair loss is a common condition involving the substantial shedding of hair that occurs in new mothers, typically two or three months after giving birth. It’s important to note that, while noticeable, postpartum hair loss is not a true form of hair loss. Dermatologists refer to this condition as excessive shedding, resulting in a drop in estrogen levels. For most women, hair will grow back to its original fullness. Those experiencing postpartum hair loss report noticing loose hair on their pillow, in their hairbrushes, or even on the shower floor. You may also find more hair stuck to your clothing than before.

Why does it happen?

“Typically, women notice more hair loss after they have a baby because they don’t lose as much hair while they’re pregnant,” said MaryAnn Cheuvront, CNM, DNP of TPMG Obstetrics & Gynecology in Newport News. The natural hormones your body produces during pregnancy prevent you from shedding hair as you normally would on a daily basis. For the typical person without hair loss, you’d still be losing anywhere up to 100 hairs per day, which isn’t of concern since people typically have around 80,000 to 120,000 hairs on their heads.

When you’re pregnant, the estrogen levels in your body keep you from shedding the normal amount of hair. During the last trimester of pregnancy, women often report their hair feeling lush and thick. However, after pregnancy, those hormone levels shift once more, and women tend to lose a lot more hair at a quicker rate.

Will my hair return to normal after postpartum hair loss?

The good news for postpartum hair loss is that substantial shedding is only temporary for most. This is a completely normal part of the recovery process after giving birth. It usually takes women three to four months postpartum to see a decline in hair loss. New moms should be completely recovered by the baby’s first birthday. Some moms report their hair feeling thinner than before pregnancy after the loss occurs.

How can I prevent further postpartum hair loss?

While there’s no treatment for postpartum hair loss, there are things you can do to prevent further hair loss or damage. The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) recommends using shampoo and conditioner to add volume (specifically conditioners formulated for thin hair) and to avoid “intensive conditioners” or anything labeled “conditioning shampoo.” You may also want to try a new hairstyle. Shorter hairstyles can give the appearance of a fuller head of hair. While it may seem counterintuitive to cut hair for it to seem voluminous, the right hairstyle can make all the difference. Additionally, shorter hairstyles require less upkeep and styling, something a new mother may appreciate with a new baby.

Is my hair loss a sign that anything is wrong with the baby?

Postpartum hair loss is completely normal and harmless for you and your child. While this is a normal process for many pregnancies, the AADA does caution new mothers to be aware of the “hair tourniquet.” This occurs when fallen strands of hair wrap around a baby’s extremities (toe, finger, wrist, etc.) and cut off circulation. Without intervention, this can lead to infection. While all new parents should be aware of the “hair tourniquet,” it’s a fairly uncommon condition.

The bottom line?

Postpartum hair loss is a completely normal experience for new mothers. While it may seem concerning at the moment, this is most often a temporary condition, and your hair will return to its original state. At TPMG, we understand that new parents will have all sorts of questions regarding the entire pregnancy process, including pre-and postpartum stages. Our Certified Nurse Midwives work with patients to answer their questions and alleviate their concerns. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

Gale Pearson

About MaryAnn Cheuvront, DNP, CNM

MaryAnn Cheuvront, DNP, CNM is a Administrative Midwife in Newport News and Hampton, VA. MaryAnn is a long-time resident of Hampton Roads and joined TPMG Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2013, and was promoted to Administrative Midwife in 2021. She welcomes new, as well as established patients, and looks forward to providing excellent, compassionate care to all of her patients.

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