Medical Director Dr. Hans-Georg Dauer
May 25, 2022
The baby is here, the hair is gone. This exact phenomenon is experienced by many women after giving birth. The period after childbirth is all the more dreaded now. But why does hair loss actually occur after pregnancy? How does it manifest itself and what can I do about it? Hair & Skin gets to the bottom of it.
Typical Causes of Hair Loss - The Usual Suspects
No nutrients, no me - our bodies will turn rabid. And rightly so: the precious nutritious input is, after all, the body’s fuel. It keeps the engine running. It needs nutrients for every single function. This also applies to our hair, of course. The extremely metabolically active organ literally consumes nutrients.
Our hair particularly wants many nutrients in the so-called growth phase, the anagen phase. The energy-intensive process with high cell division demands a lot from our hair follicles. Only with plenty of vital substances can they successfully master the demanding process. A lack of nutrients hits them all the harder.
If our nutrient store is exhausted, our hair follicles only work on the back burner. And the more half-heartedly they perform their duties, the faster they switch from the growth phase to the rest phase (telophase). Now the follicles stop their metabolic activity step by step - until they atrophy. And once the hair atrophies, it is essentially lost.
But how exactly does hair loss (alopecia) occur? There are many different reasons for this. Sometimes a stressful phase of life is behind it, sometimes an unbalanced diet. Often, genes are involved in the process. In this case, experts speak of androgenetic alopecia. Occasionally, however, skin and autoimmune diseases are also to blame for hair loss.
Another culprit is our hormones. Whether it's before or during menstruation, puberty, menopause or post-pregnancy, when hormones go crazy, so does our hair growth.
Hair Loss After Pregnancy - What's Behind it?
Especially after pregnancy, many women complain about hair loss. The reason for thinning hair is a massive hormonal change. The estrogen level changes.
During pregnancy, the body is blessed with estrogen. And the more is available from the female sex hormone estrogen, the more happy hair and skin are. The hair becomes powerful, full and shiny. Unfortunately, this beauty boost is not permanent.
After pregnancy, most women have to say goodbye to the splendor of their hair again. The culprit is again the hormone level. After birth, the increased estrogen level in the body drops significantly. The result: hair growth shortens and hair falls out. In this case we speak of postpartum effluvium, a special form of diffuse hair loss.
But there is also good news: Most of the time, hair loss settles down again on its own. At the latest six to nine months after birth, hair growth returns to normal. In the meantime, alopecia can be easily concealed with sophisticated haircuts - best with hairstyles with bangs or a prominent side parting.
If the hair loss lasts longer than nine months, it is worth talking to your dermatologist or gynecologist. You may be suffering from a nutrient deficiency caused by pregnancy. A healthy and balanced diet is all the more important.
Fantastically Full Hair During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: How can the Beauty Boost be Explained?
Expectant mothers have reason to rejoice: During pregnancy they are blessed with stunningly lush, thick and shiny hair. They have a high estrogen level in their body to thank for the splendor of their hair. Especially during pregnancy, estrogen levels increase, and noticeably so.
This high estrogen level is best reflected in the skin and hair. The complexion becomes pure, soft and even. The hair gains fullness, volume and shine. Thus, estrogen has earned its nickname "the beauty hormone".
Even shortly after pregnancy, the beauty hormone still works wonders. New mothers in the breastfeeding period have all the more joy in the splendor of their hair.
Hair Loss After Pregnancy - Should I be Worried?
Is your hair thinning just a few months after pregnancy? Of course, this realization comes as a shock at first. What's going on? Is there something wrong with me? Why do I suddenly have less hair?
Don’t worry: Hair loss after pregnancy is not uncommon. On the contrary: It is a completely natural reaction of the body. It is only reacting to the massive changes in the hormone balance.
The best news for new mothers: alopecia is usually only temporary. In other words, the increased hair loss usually goes away on its own. All you need to bring along is patience. Because nine months after the birth at the latest, your hormone balance will usually have adjusted itself again. And as soon as the estrogen level returns to normal, the hair loss stops again.
Are you suffering from unusually severe hair loss after pregnancy ? Even nine months after giving birth, it still won't subside? Then special caution is called for. As a precaution, consult a dermatologist or gynecologist you trust and clarify the alopecia.
Because not infrequently, severe hair loss after pregnancy is due to a nutrient deficiency - especially an iron deficiency. The reason: For healthy and balanced hair growth, our body needs iron. However, if the iron stores are exhausted, the deficiency quickly becomes noticeable in the hair coat. It becomes thinner and weaker.
But no need to panic: If this is the case, the problem can usually be fixed quickly and easily. Even a balanced diet with plenty of spinach, nuts, almonds, dried fruits, meat and fish brings the upset hair follicles to reason again.
Hair Loss During Pregnancy - How Long Does it Last?
When exactly hair loss begins varies from woman to woman. For some it begins already a few weeks after birth, for others only after five months.
The severity of hair loss also varies. While some only have to say goodbye to a few hairs, others lose their hair in clumps. It is not uncommon for whole bundles of hair to collect on the pillow or in the sink. It is understandable that the new mom panics at first.
But fortunately, the panic is usually unfounded. Because after six to nine months of alopecia, hair growth usually finds its natural hormonal balance again by itself - without any outside help.
You only need to worry if, nine to ten months after giving birth, healthy and strong hair has still not grown back. At the latest then you should make an appointment with your gynecologist or dermatologist - better safe than sorry.
Hair Loss After Pregnancy: What can I do About it?
Unfortunately, a miracle cure for hair loss after pregnancy has yet to be invented. After all, this is a completely normal reaction of the body. So the golden rule is: stay calm. With a little patience you will soon have your hair back.
But of course you are not completely powerless against alopecia. With these tips and tricks you can actively support your hair growth:
- Sleep: Did you know that lack of sleep promotes hair loss? That's right, this is why new moms need an extra dose of sleep.
- Anti-stress recipes: Admittedly: Life with a newborn is wonderful, but sometimes quite stressful. Everything is new and unfamiliar. After a restless night, the stress level can skyrocket - much to the chagrin of your hair. Because stress doesn't agree with it at all. This makes anti-stress strategies all the more valuable. Treat yourself to a long walk in the park or an afternoon nap on the sofa. Take a hot bubble bath or relax with your favorite TV series. Or how about a good book, some quiet music or a big cup of herbal tea? Yoga and Pilates are also worth their weight in gold - as is autogenic training or Jacobson's progressive muscle relaxation. It's best to listen to your gut and find your own personal anti-stress recipes.
- Balanced diet: After pregnancy, your body has its hands full. With all its might, it steers back to its natural rhythm. And for this feat it needs a lot of energy. And what could it draw more energy from than our food? This makes a healthy and balanced diet all the more important after pregnancy. Treat yourself to fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and pulses, white meat and fish as well as high-quality wholemeal products. Your scalp will thank you.
- Food supplements: A nutrient deficiency is not uncommon after pregnancy. No wonder, your body has just given birth to a small miracle. By the way, an iron deficiency is particularly common after childbirth. It is not without reason that many doctors recommend food supplements to new mothers. But be careful: we strongly advise against taking these supplements without consulting a doctor beforehand.
- Head massages: What do you think about regular visits to the hair spa? Whose scalp would ever say no to soothing massages? It's been proven that the circular movements stimulate their blood circulation and thus reduce hair loss. Two massages a day are ideal - one in the morning, one in the evening. Tip: The effect of the head massages is even stronger in combination with a nourishing hair oil.
- Gentle care aids: Imagine your hair being like precious porcelain. Would you still use the coarse-toothed comb? Not at all, you are better off with gently caring tools. A good choice is combs and brushes with natural hair bristles. You should also be careful with hair accessories such as hair clips and hair elastics. It's best to swap your tight synthetic products for looser silk alternatives.
- Proper hair care: not all shampoos are the same and not all conditioners are the same - especially not after pregnancy. Because especially in this sensitive phase our hair needs sensitive care. You can be on the safe side with mild natural products without silicones and parabens. They gently cleanse and strengthen your hair without weighing it down with chemical additives.
- Less is more: Not only mild care products play a major role in your toiletry bag after pregnancy. There should also be fewer. Because the more different active ingredients your scalp has to process, the more stressed it is. And it can do without stress in this special phase with a clear conscience.
- One refill, please: Only a well hydrated scalp is a happy scalp. So the golden rule for lively hair growth is: drink, drink, drink. Drink two to three liters of fluid a day - whether it's still water, herbal teas or light fruit spritzers.