Being pregnant and having a baby brings a number of changes to a woman’s body. Some of those changes may be welcome, others not so much. One of the more unfortunate changes is postpartum hair loss.

“Many women, not all, will experience [it],” board certified obstetric and gynecologist, Kerry-Anne Perkins, said.

Mariah M. begin to notice hair loss at 8 weeks postpartum. Thankfully, it hasn’t been a terrible experience for her.

“As of now, my hair loss has been minimal and easy to disguise. It has not had a large impact on my mental and emotional health,” says Mariah M.

Many new moms can not avoid postpartum hair loss. Thankfully, while troubling to experience, it isn’t usually anything to be overly concerned about.

What is Postpartum Hair Loss?

Perkins describes postpartum hair loss as the shedding of hair that some women start to suffer in the months after giving birth.

“Oftentimes within two to six months after you’ve delivered your child. For some it can be a little bit earlier and for some it could last a little bit longer,” Perkins said.

It is caused by a shift in a woman’s hormones after delivering. Your body is essentially realizing that it no longer needs to produce certain growth factors to help your baby develop. 

“When you have that sudden drop in your hormones, your scalp and your hair follicles restart their hair growth at the same time,” Perkins explained.

The hair loss is not contained to one part of your head. It can happen all over.

“I have noticed most of my hair loss around my hairline,” says Mariah.

How Long Does it Last?

The start of postpartum hair loss can usually begin anytime in the first year after a woman has a baby.

“You’ll notice most of the hair loss within the first four to six months after delivery,” Perkins said. 

It can be a different story for women who are breastfeeding. Nursing can prolong the start of hair shedding, because your body may still feel like it’s pregnant. Over time, you should start to see improvements.

“The good thing with postpartum hair loss is that the follicles are still healthy, they will regrow. They will just all grow at the same pace on the same schedule,”  Perkins said.

Perkins says if you wait about six to 12 months, you should see the fullness of your hair eventually come back.

“We can embrace it. It never makes you feel good that you’re having hair loss. But if you trust the process, just know that the regrowth will happen. As long as you were having normal hair growth before the pregnancy,” Perkins said.

How to Manage Hair Loss

Perkins says there isn’t anything that a postpartum mother can do to avoid hair loss. 

“We can’t really stop it. The degree in which you are going to have loss can be influenced by your activities,” Perkins said.

There are some ways to manage the hair loss as best as possible. Perkins encourages postpartum moms to make sure that they are hydrating well and getting micronutrients through multi-vitamins or through well balanced meals. Make sure to do light exercises in your postpartum period. She also suggests going easy on your hair and scalp after giving birth. 

“You want to make sure that in those first six months postpartum that you’re not putting a lot of pressure on your scalp,” Perkins said.

Be careful with excessively combing and tugging on your hair. That stress can increase the amount of hair loss. Perkins says you may want to stay away from styles that pull at the scalp like braids, sew-ins or wig installations. If you do choose to get these types of hairstyles, Perkins says to do so early in the postpartum period. 

“Maintain these hairstyles for the next four months with very little manipulation,” Perkins explained.

Mariah M. encourages other new moms suffering hair loss to do the same.

“Focus on a simple routine that does not place unnecessary strain on the hair and keeps it well moisturized,” she says.

Since postpartum hair loss is caused by hormonal changes, hair products won’t help with inevitable shedding. They can, however, assist with regrowing your hair.