During pregnancy, increased levels of estrogen prolong the hair’s natural growth stage. As such, fewer hairs move into the resting stage, so fewer hairs fall out each day. Pregnant women often rave about their thicker, more luxuriant hair.
After birth or after weaning your baby off breastfeeding, however, estrogen levels decrease rapidly, causing the hair follicles to enter their resting stage, en masse. Typically, three to four months after the baby is born or is weaned, women notice a sudden and noticeable increase in shedding or hair loss.
Your hair will eventually resume its normal healthy hair growth cycle. The time it takes for hair follicles to resume their normal cycle varies from person-to-person, but typically shedding tapers off within six to 12 months
According to the American Pregnancy Association, 40 to 50 percent of women will experience hair loss after pregnancy. It seems a bit unfair that nature gives us our most luminous hair while we are pregnant and then makes us struggle through postpartum hair loss as we’re trying to lose the pregnancy weight! But don’t worry, ladies, postpartum hair loss is temporary and can be resolved fairly quickly. To boost healthy hair growth, try Hair Essentials!
Postpartum hair loss affects roughly half of all women, according to the American Pregnancy Association. The hair loss isn’t caused by breast-feeding, although the two seem to go hand in hand. For most women, postpartum shedding is transient and will stop within six to 12 months of delivery.
While not directly related to breast-feeding or postpartum hormones, there are several other reasons you could be shedding. The first is stress. You are breast-feeding an infant around the clock and running on very little sleep. You are also recovering from the physically strenuous event of childbirth. The body sometimes reacts to emotional and physical stress with hair loss, which should stop three to four months after the stress has subsided. A purely practical reason for shedding is changes in your grooming routine. With a baby tugging on your hair, you may be sporting a ponytail more often. Pulling your hair back into a tight ponytail or bun can cause hair loss.
A healthy diet is just as important when you’re breast-feeding as it was when you were pregnant. It can be hard to focus on nutrition when you are adjusting to new motherhood, but failure to consume adequate protein and iron may contribute to hair loss, too. Breast-feeding mothers should eat two to three servings of protein per day from sources such as beans, meat, poultry and fish. You’ll also need 10 milligrams of iron. Dietary sources of iron include egg yolks, meat, beans and dried fruit. Talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin and mineral supplement to fill gaps in your diet.
Iron intakes among women of childbearing age are frequently below recommended levels; in women aged 19–64, 23% have intakes below the LRNI (Lower Reference Nutrient Intake) for iron; the situation is far worse among girls aged 11–18, in whom the prevalence rate is 46%. Although there is no national data on iron intakes or prevalence of iron deficiency in pregnant women in the UK, several small British studies suggest that intakes below reference levels are evidence of the wider situation. It may take around 18 months for maternal iron stores to be replenished.
Red meat is an important source of iron, and plant-derived foods containing iron (e.g. wholegrain products, pulses, beans, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables) should be consumed along with foods or drinks containing vitamin C (e.g. fruits, fruit juice or vegetables) to help iron absorption (e.g. a glass of fresh orange juice with cereal for breakfast).
Is there anything I can do to prevent hair loss associated with a hormone imbalance?
While it may be impossible to prevent postpartum hair loss, you can significantly reduce the severity of hair loss reducing stress and eating a balanced diet rich in protein, flavonoids and antioxidants, essential fatty acids (especially omega-3 fatty acids), Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12, Biotin, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. You may also consider using a hair-healthy, all-natural program like Hair Essentials that offers an abundant supply of hair-healthy nutrients.