In this article:
- The hair follicle life cycle
- Postpartum hair loss: What's normal?
- How to support postpartum hair growth
There are four phases in the hair growth cycle and each phase varies in length:
Though anagen seems like the only stage that matters for healthy hair growth, it is possible to maintain healthy hair throughout all phases and even during and after pregnancy.
Seeing any amount of hair clogging up the drain or collecting in the hairbrush is alarming to many people. Losing one hundred hairs seems like a lot of hair, yet it's normal. Poor diet, age, hair styling, thyroid conditions, hormonal changes, medications, genetics, autoimmune diseases, and skin conditions like alopecia can all contribute to hair loss in otherwise healthy individuals. Many new mothers have also been warned of the possibility of postpartum hair loss. So, if shedding 50-100 hairs per day pre-pregnancy is normal, what can be expected postpartum and what can you do to minimize it?
During pregnancy, more hair follicles remain in the anagen phase for longer periods due to hormonal changes. Yay baby mane! Bring it on! Then, about 3-6 months postpartum the follicles transition to the telogen phase due to the sudden drop in hormone levels. This form of temporary hair loss is called “telogen effluvium.” Telogen effluvium is a physiological response to stress. It's triggered by hormonal alterations (the plummet in estrogen levels post-pregnancy), physical trauma and environmental shock (hello childbirth!), medications like antidepressants, and vitamin deficiencies. It can cause bald spots to form (typically at the crown of the head) or thinning hair throughout the scalp, but it rarely results in a receding hairline.
Some studies measured that new mothers lose up to 50% of scalp hair overall and up to 400 hairs daily during the postpartum period.
Yes it's normal, yes it's temporary. Nevertheless, it's alarming to many new moms. Here are some natural ingredients and nutrients to add to your diet, topical products to try, and lifestyle changes you can make, both before and after the baby arrives. These can help minimize your postpartum hair loss and support faster, healthier hair regrowth.
There are typically two main goals new mothers establish when it comes to postpartum hair care: 1. minimize fallout and 2. speed up growth. A strange and somewhat silly side effect of hair regrowth is the growth of "baby bangs". Think micro-bangs that grow straight up as your hormones re-stabilize. This is certainly a good sign of new hair growth, but unless you pack a load of bobby pins and hair spray in the diaper bag, it can be hard to manage. Keep in mind that mothers who are breastfeeding should take extra caution and speak to their doctor before adding a new vitamin or supplement to their diet.
Here are some things you can do to avoid hair loss and speed up healthy hair growth:
We know hair loss is yet another event many new mothers juggle, so the goal is to prevent vitamin deficiencies and support mom's health holistically to lighten the load. With that said, as silly as they might look at first, those baby bangs are a reminder to the world of your body's resilience! Rock 'em while you've got 'em!
As one new mother put it "I found my purpose, and I lost my hair."