To understand post-partum hair loss, it’s important to first understand the hair growth cycle.
Here’s a quick intro to the 4 Phases…
Anagen- The phase when hair is actively growing like the party is in full force. This phase normally lasts for years, and the longer it lasts, the longer lengths your hair can reach.
Catagen– The short phase signaling the end of the active growing phase. Think of it like last call at a bar, when the activity is winding down.
Telogen – Often called the resting phase, hair fibers are not growing but they are lingering. It’s like when the party is over, but you’re still there waiting for your ride.
Exogen – The shedding phase that happens at the end of Telogen when the fiber exits the follicle. The doors are closing, and you’re being forced to leave. These fibers have made it to the very end of the cycle. Seeing them in your brush or comb is a good sign that new hairs are beginning to grow again.
In normal times, you have about 85% of follicles on your head are in the Anagen growing phase and 10-15% of fibers in the Telogen-Exogen resting and shedding phases.
But pregnancy and post-partum are anything but normal times!
A clinical study run in 1960 showed that women in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters had ~95% of their follicles in the anagen phase (1). As follicles stay longer in the anagen phase and delay the move to the resting phases, you see fuller hair on your head. It’s simply because you are shedding far less than usual, not because you are growing new hairs. You can thank the hormone estrogen for your pregnancy hair that seems to grow like crazy.
Then childbirth happens and life changes completely. So do the hormone levels in your body.
Just when your body is beginning to feel more normal several months after giving birth, hair shedding begins. It can seem like a nasty sneak attack, but it is a perfectly natural outcome of having a baby.
Estrogen levels fall post-partum, and the fibers that stayed longer than normal in anagen (sometimes referred to as “overaged”) suddenly shift to the telogen phase. On average, now only ~75% of hair follicles are in the Anagen phase, which is ~10% lower than normal. The sudden shift shows up as gobs of hair coming out all at once.
Cue completely justified freak-out moment.
For many women, post-partum hair loss starts 3 - 6 months after delivery. It can last for weeks to months while hormone levels reset and the hair growth cycle gets back to normal. Once they stabilize, new hair begins to regrow.
Wondering what you can do about post-partum hair loss?
It can’t really be avoided, but there are a few things that can help:
- Know what to expect. Having the right expectations for post-partum hair loss will ease the frustration. It happens to everyone who goes through childbirth to some degree, it’s completely normal, it’s temporary, and it’s reversible. Talking with friends, family, or online communities about your experience can help ease the stress because you are not alone.
- Eat a balanced diet and supplement where needed to avoid nutritional deficiencies that can prolong post-partum hair loss. Talk to your doctor about your diet, which should include nutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamin D that are especially important for hair growth. And while this is a time many women are anxious to return to their pre-pregnancy weight, take a healthy, gradual approach to weight loss. Crash diets can cause even more hair loss. Gaining the pregnancy weight was a gradual process - losing it should be too.
- Once your hair begins to regrow, treat it well. You want to take care of the newly growing hair from the beginning, so it gets you back to the pre-pregnancy head of hair you loved.
The time when your hair begins to regrow is when KeepItAnchored can best help. People often ask us if KeepItAnchored will fix post-partum hair loss. While it will not regrow hair, it will help to anchor the newly growing hair with strong roots, so your hair stays with you for longer.
We recommend treating yourself to the Color Care Kit or Complete Kit. We know how rare time to shower can be as a new mom (some of us on the KeepItAnchored team are moms, too!), so we created fast-acting formulas. No need to let the shampoo or conditioner sit on your hair for long before rinsing. And when you don’t have time to shower, the Hair Anchoring Essence will give you a daily dose of the clinically proven hair anchoring technology in 30 seconds or less.
We know how rare time to shower can be as a new mom (some of us on the KeepItAnchored team are moms, too!), so we created fast-acting formulas. No need to let the shampoo or conditioner sit on your hair for long before rinsing. As soon as it is fully distributed, you're ready to rinse.
When you don’t have time to shower as often as you like, you can still get your daily dose of the clinically proven hair anchoring technology in 30 seconds or less with the Hair Anchoring Essence. It works on wet or dry hair.
- Yelva l. Lynfield, M.D., Effect of pregnancy on the human hair cycle, Journal of Investigative Dermatology (1960), 323-327.
- Larry Millikan, Hirsutism, postpartum telogen effluvium, and male pattern alopecia, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (2006), 5, 81-86.
- Katlein Franca et al, Comprehensive Overview and Treatment Update on hair loss, Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications (2013) 3.