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Hair Loss after Pregnancy

Hair Loss after Pregnancy: The Cycles of Hair Loss

A pregnant woman’s body contains higher levels of estrogen and progesterone.  With these increased hormone levels, hair continues to grow and appear thicker, shinier, and healthier than when she is not pregnant.  However, after she gives birth, there is a sudden drop in these hormones, which can cause hair loss after pregnancy.  Even though hair loss after pregnancy is common, it is one of the most noticeable physical after-effects occurring in approximately 75% of women.

Cycles of Hair Growth

Hair undergoes two growth cycles.  The first cycle (growth), known as the “anagen” cycle, can last between four and seven years.  During this phase, hair generally grows one to two cm per month. Approximately 80% to 90% of hair is in this cycle at any given time.

The second cycle (rest), known as the “telogen” cycle occurs between the growth phases.  Older hair falls out because new hair grows.  During the telogen cycle, women can lose up to 100 pieces of hair per day.  This cycle can last three to four months; however, these cycles do not occur simultaneously.  Approximately 10% to 15% of hair is in this cycle at any given time. 

The third cycle (transitional), known as the “catagen” phase occurs when hair transitions from growing to resting or vice versa.  Approximately 2% to 4% of hair is in this cycle at any given time.

How to Manage Hair Loss after Pregnancy

Even though hair loss after pregnancy is only temporary (lasting up to six months), the experience can be upsetting.  However, women can use these tips to manage hair loss after pregnancy.   

  • Since hair is prone to damage after pregnancy, appropriate hair care is necessary to prevent further damage.
  • Use a wide-tooth comb to untangle hair when hair is wet to prevent breakage.
  • Change hairstyles.  Try a new haircut or add some color.  If hair loss after pregnancy is severe, try a short no-fuss hairstyle.
  • Shampooing and conditioning hair regularly is necessary to prevent hair breakage and shedding.
  • For the first couple months, avoid using heat appliances such as hair dryers, flat irons and curling irons on a daily basis.
  • Use hair styling products such as gel and mousse to add volume. 
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet, especially when breastfeeding.  A high protein, high iron diet will benefit hair. 
  • Do not tie up hair too tightly in a ponytail or bun because it can easily break.  Try a loose ponytail.
Consuming plenty of water is equally important.

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