Talking Postpartum Hair Loss

I see it asked about all the time on mom groups; "Help! After having my baby, my hair is falling out in clumps and I don't know what to do." Hair loss can be upsetting at the best of times, never mind at a time when a woman is often already struggling to find her footing as a new mom.

I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet, but I can share some personal fixes that have worked for me during my postpartum times when I have experienced hair loss.

First, it bears mentioning that the growth of hair is not continuous, but has it's own evolutionary cycle:

  1. Anagen: Growth (lasts 2 - 6 years)

  2. Catagen: Involution, blocking growth (lasts 2 - 3 weeks)

  3. Telogen: Resting phase, when the hair shaft actually falls out (lasts 2 - 3 months)

The Anagen phase is stimulated by estrogen and this is why pregnancy is associated with that long, fast-growing, thick, shiny, luscious hair - because the high estrogen extends the Anagen phase. Once the baby is born, the many hairs previously in the anagen phase rapidly convert to the telogen phase, leading to large amounts of hair fall. The process usually begins 2-4 months after delivery and lasts for 3-6 months. Several theories exist for why this distressing phenomenon occurs. One theory suggests that the pituitary gland is not working as well after pregnancy because of the high levels of estrogen produced during pregnancy. Once estrogen levels fall at the end of pregnancy, the pituitary gland may need some adjustment time. Other factors such as physiological stresses such as blood loss, as well as the secretion of the hormone prolactin with nursing and psychological stresses such as high cortisol due to birth trauma.