Hair loss may occur during or after pregnancy, giving soon-to-be moms another item to add to a seemingly endless list of worries. Fortunately, this type of hair loss is common and usually only temporary.
There is an important distinction to be made, however. Hair loss can be caused by very different factors, depending on when it occurs. During pregnancy, hair loss could be a sign of hormonal imbalance or nutritional deficiency, which is reason enough to consult a physician (preferably your OB/GYN) and make adequate dietary changes. Hair loss is much more common after pregnancy, and new moms who experience this stress-related hair loss may have to take a very different course of action to restore their natural hair.
Is It Normal to Lose Hair While Pregnant?
Many soon-to-be mothers wonder, Is it normal to lose my hair during pregnancy? Though common, hair loss during pregnancy should not be taken lightly.
How to Avoid Hair Loss During Pregnancy. After consulting with a physician, it is recommended that pregnant women who experience symptoms of thinning or balding take a few steps to encourage natural, healthy hair growth:
1. Eat plenty of fruit. Fruit is naturally rich in vitamins, antioxidants, water, and other elements that are building blocks for hair health. For more ideas on how to eat for healthy hair, visit our Foods for Healthy Hair guide.
2. Stay hydrated. Water is critical, especially during pregnancy. It’s recommended that pregnancy women drink at least 8 glasses each day (60-70 ounces total). An additional glass of water is recommended for each hour of light to moderate exercise.
3. Speak to a Doctor About Your Thyroid. When speaking to Healthywomen.org, Dr. Dana Jacoby explains, “hair loss during pregnancy might be a sign of an underactive thyroid,” (i). Thyroid hormone is critical to the normal development of a baby’s brain and nervous system, making it vital to monitor the thyroid for abnormal hormone production and regulation.
4. Follow up with your doctor. When going for check-ups, follow up with your doctor regarding your experience with thin or balding hair. Depending on severity, women may wish to schedule a hair loss evaluation with a specialist to review treatment options.
Is It Normal To Lose Hair After Pregnancy?
It is much more common to lose hair after pregnancy, most commonly due to 2 main causes: Hormones, and stress.
1. Hormone-related Hair Loss After Pregnancy. During pregnancy, a woman’s hormonal levels may change drastically. Most common is a rapid rise in the production of estrogen. Estrogen levels tail off significantly after childbirth, which may cause a corresponding loss of hair. Additionally, women who resume the use of certain birth control medications may likewise cause hormonal fluctuations that lead to hair loss.
2. Stress-related Hair Loss After Pregnancy. At times, hair loss can be caused be stress. Referred to as telogen effluvium, this condition is characterized by improper hair follicle function following periods of intense stress. The anxiety, responsibility, and physical/emotional demands of pregnancy and early motherhood (see below) can be enough to cause this unique type of stress-related hair loss. Women who are pregnant can proactively manage stress levels by taking time to relax each day with calming activities like yoga, meditation, reading, and breathing.
For more, new moms may wish to visit our guide, 6 Ways to Prevent Female Hair Loss and Telogen Effluvium.
(i) Cassidy, Gwynn. “Hair Loss During Pregnancy?” Healthywomen.org. Accessed 18 May 2013.