Hormonal shifts during and after pregnancy
Hormones changes are dramatic in from the start of pregnancy. The major shift at the start occurs in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). The rise of this hormone confirms pregnancy, and its levels reach thousands in the first four weeks of pregnancy.
The other hormones which rise in pregnancy are estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, and oxytocin. Other than these hormonal changes, many other changes in the body are known to cause skin and hair changes.
In pregnancy, blood volume also increases in the body, which results in improved blood circulation to the body parts. After pregnancy ends, the levels of these hormones start to decline immediately. Prolactin is the hormone that remains raised throughout breastfeeding.
Effects of hormonal shifts
Due to increased levels of hormones, particularly estrogen and increased blood volume, prevent hair loss in women during pregnancy. Estrogen and improved circulation prevent the normal usual hair fall during pregnancy.
So when the pregnancy ends and hormone levels reduced to a normal level, the hair will fall out all at once, which had been delayed in nine months of pregnancy. The hair follicles enter the resting phase and remain for almost three months.
During this time, the growth of new hair is also reduced. And after three months, the follicles entered resting phases begins to shed hair.
Causes of hair loss after pregnancy
It is one of the common causes of hair loss in women after pregnancy. As pregnancy ends, the raised hormones during pregnancy go back to their normal levels. Estrogen in pregnancy makes hair thick and lustrous by reducing hair fall.
But after pregnancy, as its levels decrease, the hair enters the resting phase and then sheds. This process takes approximately three months after pregnancy, during which hair remains in the resting phase.
It is not actually hair loss; rather, it is excessive hair shedding. The condition usually resolves on its own after six to twelve months. It is also known as telogen effluvium.
Stress after giving birth is another cause of hair loss after pregnancy. The stress causes more hair to enter into shedding or resting phase. It will result in more hair shedding than normal.
Thyroid problems are also not uncommon during and after pregnancy. It will result in hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is the reason for hair loss in women after pregnancy, along with other symptoms, including muscular cramping, constipation, and fatigue.
Postpartum thyroiditis is a condition affecting women after pregnancy resulting in hair loss.
Iron deficiency is common during and after pregnancy, although it can be treated with supplements, it is also the cause of alopecia in women after pregnancy.
When does hair loss after pregnancy starts?
The hormones start to decrease after 24 hours of giving birth, but hair loss can be seen after two to four months. The reason behind this is that hair enters in resting phase before shedding.
The severity of hair loss is different among women. However, females with long hair or who have experienced more hair growth during pregnancy may feel more hair loss.
Prevention of postpartum hair loss
Although it is difficult to prevent hair loss in women after pregnancy, you can reduce its severity and period by taking the following actions:
- Ensure eating a healthy diet rich in essential nutrients like iron, vitamins, proteins, etc. A nutritionally rich diet is also essential to overcome the postpartum challenges and recovery process.
- Take multivitamins and mineral supplements regularly after pregnancy to replete the deficiencies.
- After recovering from childbirth, ensure to get regular light to moderate exercise or physical activity.
- Pay attention to your hair styling. Try to avoid tight braids, ponytails, buns, or other hairstyles that may pull your hair.
Managing hair loss after pregnancy
Hair loss in women after pregnancy is physiological due to hormonal change, so it does not require treatment. The majority of the cases resolve on their own within six to twelve months.
However, the following steps can be taken to minimize hair loss and promote hair growth. If the cause of hair loss is other than hormonal changes, then it is better to consult a doctor who will treat the underlying cause.
For example, if your hair loss is due to hyperthyroidism, it must be addressed to correct your hair loss.
Diet is an essential thing to replete the deficiencies that occurred during pregnancy. Maintaining a healthy diet supports optimal health and well being. Ensure to take a diet rich in vitamins and minerals which are necessary for your hair health.
Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Also, drink plenty of water to ensure maximum hydration.
You cannot take diet alone to overcome the nutritional deficiencies, so taking supplements is a good idea. To reduce the hair loss after pregnancy, you must take dietary supplements containing:
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Hair loss after pregnancy : reduce Stress
Stress is common after pregnancy as the women are experiencing a new phase of motherhood and also due to hormonal changes. It is imperative to reduce stress by using different relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises. If your doctor allows, you can also go for mild to moderate exercise.
Avoid hairstyles that pull your hair harder and vigorous brushing. Try using a shampoo that contains biotin, silica, and conditioner. Try to avoid using chemical hair products, which will worsen hair loss as hair dying.
Natural oils are helpful in maintaining good hair health. They make hair stronger and reduce hair loss to some extent. You can use peppermint oil mixed with your shampoo, or massaging almond oil, castor oil, coconut oil in your scalp.
If your hair loss is not settling months after pregnancy, then your doctor may prescribe topical minoxidil to treat alopecia after pregnancy. It is recommended not to use minoxidil without a doctor’s prescription.
Hair loss after pregnancy is a common condition affecting most of the females after three to four months of childbirth. It is not a matter of concern as it resolves within one-year post-pregnancy.
But if it is not settling after one year, you must consult your doctor because it may be due to other reasons than hormonal changes. It must not be considered as a permanent hair loss as it is temporary excessive hair shedding.
It will return to normal mostly in six to nine months post-pregnancy. It is recommended to maintain adequate nutrition and take regular nutritional supplements after pregnancy.
It will help to minimize hair loss, improve hair growth and also helps the body in recovering quickly from childbirth trauma.