Known as postpartum hair shedding, postpartum alopecia, or telogen effluvium. Regardless of the name you use, it can be a very distressing experience at an already stressful time.
Please know that postpartum hair shedding is completely normal, and is absolutely nothing to worry about. Shedding should taper off about six months postpartum, and the hair you lose will grow back.
What Causes Postpartum Hair Shedding?
When you are pregnant, you have higher levels of oestrogen in your body. Oestrogen is a hair-friendly hormone that keeps hairs in their anagen (growth) phase for longer, and delays them from moving into their telogen (resting) phase. This means that while you are pregnant, you are likely to shed fewer strands than usual, which is why many women find their hair is fuller during pregnancy.
After you give birth, your oestrogen levels revert back to normal. The hairs that were being kept in their growth phase now move into their resting phase. They rest for several weeks, then fall out after about three months, which explains why you might shed a large sum of strands within a short period of time.
What are the Symptoms of Postpartum Hair Shedding?
On average, it is normal to lose up to 100 hairs a day, but postpartum shedding can result in as many as 400 hairs being shed in a 24-hour period.
You will probably notice more hairs coming out when you brush and style, as well as in your plug hole, and perhaps on your pillow and clothes. Rest assured this type of hair loss is always temporary and is nothing to worry about. Feel free to continue shampooing, conditioning and styling your hair as normal, for these actions will not cause or worsen shedding.
Hair shedding should slow down around six months postpartum. If you find it does not, then there may be another underlying issue responsible, such as a nutritional deficiency. Pregnancy can affect your thyroid function and your ferritin levels, both of which can impact the hair. The stress of having a newborn and/or breastfeeding may also take its toll on your body. If your hair shedding does not ease off after about six months, we suggest you consult with a Trichologist and/or your doctor.