Having a baby changes everything – and that includes your hair. In fact, you’ve probably heard women say that their hair looks thicker and shinier during pregnancy, just like some say that their skin glows. Other women experience a change in hair color. The reality, though, is that not all women find that pregnancy benefits their hair. Rather, a significant number of women actually experience hair loss during pregnancy and in the post-natal period, and this can come as a shock.
Pregnancy-related hair loss is common, but it’s also temporary, so there’s no reason to worry. If you’re expecting and seeing more hairs in your shower drain, the situation is likely to resolve shortly after birth. As your hormones settle back into their pre-pregnancy balance, your hair will look like it did before baby – even if nothing else does.
Hormones And Hair Loss
Hair loss during and after pregnancy is fueled by fluctuations in estrogen levels, which is why hair loss is also common during menopause. Part of what makes hair loss seem so dramatic during pregnancy, though, is that in the early months – and in some women, during the entirety of pregnancy – increased blood flow to the scalp encourages hair to keep growing longer, hence the appearance of thicker, more luxurious hair. After birth, blood flow and hormones stabilize; this is why women experience post-partum hair loss. It’s not actually a lot of hair loss; it’s just all happening at once.
Protecting Your Hair
Pregnancy-related hair loss impacts 40-50% of pregnant women, but it is temporary, and there are a number of steps you can take to protect your hair throughout the process. First, make sure you’re eating a healthy diet throughout and after pregnancy. Though it can be hard to prioritize healthy cooking and eating during those first weeks postpartum, make sure you grab a piece of fruit or take advantage of offers by friends and family to bring over meals. Even grabbing a quick smoothie can help keep your vitamin levels up, as can taking vitamin D, omega-3, and B vitamin supplements.
Another thing you can do to protect your hair during and shortly after pregnancy is to be careful about the way you style it. While it can be tempting to just toss your hair up in a ponytail because it’s low maintenance, tight hair ties can pull on your hair and cause it to fall out faster and in greater amounts because it can traumatize the hair. Instead, grab a scarf or a loose headband that will keep your hair out of the way without pulling on it.
Finally, if you feel that you are losing an inordinate amount of hair, there may be a more serious underlying problem than your pregnancy and hormone fluctuations. Check with your doctor for issues such as iron deficiency that can increase hair loss. Pregnant women are at a high risk for iron deficiency anemia, particularly those who have had severe morning sickness or who have had pregnancies close together. Carrying multiple fetuses can also increase the risk of iron deficiency, and of hair loss. Iron supplements can increase your blood levels and decrease hair loss, while also giving you added energy.
Pregnancy-related hair loss can feel especially stressful considering all of the other changes happening at the same time, but it’s common and, in the scope of things, no big deal. Within a few months after delivery, your hair will be back to normal, if perhaps a little messier than it was before you had a baby.