Many expectant moms fall in love with the thick, shiny, and healthy looking head of hair that often develops during pregnancy. Those same moms are also typically distraught when their hair begins to fall out after they’ve given birth. So what’s going on here? Why do new moms lose so much of their hair after their babies are born? Keep reading to learn more about postpartum hair loss and a few tips you can try to lessen the effects.

The Root of the Issue

The first thing to keep in mind is that according to What to Expect postpartum hair loss is not real hair loss in the sense that it doesn’t need to be treated and will go away on its own. Symptoms typically begin three to six months after birth and are often characterized by hair coming out in larger than average volumes (even clumps in some cases). During postpartum hair loss, your hair falls out because of rapid changes in hormone levels, particularly estrogen, that are experienced after delivery. During pregnancy, these same hormones naturally reduced your natural amount of shedding that provides the voluminous, “supermodel” hair that many pregnant women experience.  As your hormone levels drop, your hair sheds at a faster rate because not as much was falling out during pregnancy.

The Hair Growth Cycle

According to Telogen Effluvium by Elizabeth CW Hughes, MD, “All hair has a growth phase, termed anagen, and a resting phase, telogen. On the scalp, anagen lasts approximately three years, while telogen lasts roughly three months, although there can be wide variation in these times between individuals. During telogen, the resting hair remains in the follicle until it is pushed out by the growth of a new anagen hair.” As a result, 85-95% of your hair is growing at any time, and during a regular cycle, you will lose approximately one hundred hairs per day. As a result of the hormonal changes after birth, a much larger number of hairs enter the resting phase which leads to much more shedding. KellyMom states that by 12 months, your hormone levels should level out and your hair growth cycle should return to normal.

Tips and Care

Here are a few tips from the American Academy of Dermatology to help you cope with postpartum hair loss.

  • Use shampoo and conditioner that add volume.
  • Use a volumizing shampoo.
  • Avoid any shampoo labeled “conditioning shampoo.”
  • Use a conditioner formulated for fine hair.
  • Use conditioner primarily on the ends of your hair.
  • Avoid conditioners labeled “intensive conditioners.”