A guide to postpartum hair loss

The body goes through many changes during and after pregnancy. Some are welcome – like the thick head of hair many women find they develop during their pregnancy – and some are slightly less welcome. One change that many new parents are unprepared for is postpartum hair loss.

Thankfully, postpartum hair loss is usually only temporary, although it can be distressing – here’s everything you need to know about postpartum hair loss.

What causes postpartum hair loss?

During pregnancy, the hormones are constantly fluctuating. By around week 20, many women notice their hair looks thicker and healthier than usual, which is all thanks to those pregnancy hormones impacting the hair growth cycle, making it stay in the growing phase for longer. This means that less hair sheds than normal, giving a fuller appearance.

However, after birth, the level of oestrogen in the body suddenly drops, causing the hair loss to resume. As you have retained so much hair during pregnancy, it can look like a significant amount has been shed. This type of hair loss is known as telogen effluvium.

How long does postpartum hair loss last?

Postpartum hair loss generally starts soon after the birth, usually peaking at around three to six months after. For many women, it’s only temporary hair loss – after the initial shedding, the hair will grow back as normal.

Can postpartum hair loss be avoided?

Unfortunately, there’s no certain way to prevent postpartum hair loss, as it’s a normal and natural part of pregnancy. However, there are ways to deal with it to make it easier to handle. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is key – minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin A and iron, are known to support hair growth.

Be extra gentle with your hair, washing it only when necessary and wearing it loose whenever possible. Avoiding hot tools like hairdryers and hair straighteners, as well as chemical-based treatments such as dyes and perms can also help to preserve your hair until the shedding stops.

Should I see a doctor about postpartum hair loss?

Postpartum hair loss is normal, and most cases will resolve itself after a few months. If the hair loss seems particularly severe – for example, if it is falling out in large clumps – or if it is still persisting after around six months, it may be worth visiting your GP to put your mind at ease.