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An Intro to Pregnancy Related Hair Loss
by Clem Mestre
Pregnancy has a funny way of turning life completely upside down. With your body, emotions, relationships, and career thrown into a state of flux, the last thing you want to deal with is your hair falling out. Though it may seem unfair, hair loss is a common and natural part of childbirth. Experts estimate that 40-50% of new mothers will experience some degree of hair loss either during the pregnancy or within six months of delivery. Read on to find out what to expect and learn tips for keeping hair fall to a minimum.
Hair Fall During Pregnancy
Although many women report thicker hair during their pregnancies, others experience the exact opposite effect. For the latter group, hair may begin to shed at an accelerated rate during any of the trimesters. While such reactions are less common than postpartum hair loss, it doesn’t mean that anything’s wrong with you or your baby. Dispel yourself from the myth of the “typical pregnancy;” each female body will have different reactions to fluctuating hormones and the demands of its new passenger.
That said, it’s always a good idea to discuss sudden bodily changes with a doctor when pregnant. Abnormal or persistent shedding can be triggered by simple changes such as discontinuing birth control or fertility drugs, but it might also be a symptom of more serious issues such as an underactive thyroid gland or vitamin deficiency. It isn’t worth getting worked up over, but the sooner your doctor rules these possibilities out, the better.
Normally, 90% of hair follicles are in the “anagen” phase where hair is being produced at a steady rate, while the other 10% is in a non-productive recovery period called the “telogen” phase. These different stages help keep follicles fresh, not unlike farmers resting some of their fields for a season. During pregnancy though, your body is flush with estrogen which generally encourages hair to stay in that productive anagen phase. If your body works this way, you can expect thick, shiny hair throughout the pregnancy and into the first months after delivery.
When your estrogen levels even out however—usually three to six months after delivery—all of those follicles that have been working over-time take a vacation to the “telogen” phase. The condition, termed “telogen effluvium,” results in sixty to ninety days of rapid hair fall. While this won’t be the most flattering period of your life, it is temporary and has no effect on future hair growth.
Once the follicles get back on track your hair will slowly regain its volume and luster. Most mothers with telogen effluvium are able to completely regrow fallen hair before their baby’s first birthday. If you aren’t seeing the shedding stabilize or reverse within ten months of delivery, visit your doctor. Child birth has been known to trigger androgenetic alopecia, a.k.a. female pattern baldness,” but incidences are rare.
Hair Tips for Soon-to-Be Mothers
While the tips below won’t stop pregnancy-related hair loss, they will give your body the best possible chance to minimize hair fall and quickly recover follicle activity.
- Add a variety of organic fruits and vegetables to your diet. The flavonoids and antioxidants can decrease scalp inflammation and increase hair production.
- With the approval of your doctor, add hair-boosting supplements such as vitamin B,C, E, and low doses of zinc.
- Avoid ponytails, weaves, corn rows, braids, and tight hair rollers. These styles put extra tension on follicles and increase hair loss.
- Know that your hair is at its weakest when wet, so be gentle. Pat hair dry with a towel instead of giving it a rough rubdown and keep wet styling to a minimum.
- Use the “cool” setting on styling devices such as blow driers and flat irons to keep your hair strong and scalp happy.
However you choose to weather pregnancy-related hair loss, be kind to your body—both physically and emotionally—and understand that this is all part of the birthing process. If you’re interested in learning more about hair loss beyond pregnancy, contact us today. One simple call can book you a private consultation with hair loss expert in your area!