How Common Is Hair Loss after Childbirth?

N. Madison

After childbirth, hair loss is a common and normal part of pregnancy that most women experience. In most cases, this hair loss happens during the first five months following childbirth. Hair loss after childbirth is usually the result of an increase in hormones that prevent the loss of hair while a woman is pregnant and then return to their normal levels after childbirth. When the hormones return to normal levels, the woman basically sheds the hair she would have lost had she not been pregnant.

A pregnant woman.
A pregnant woman.

All women periodically lose some of their hair when they are not pregnant. This is due to the fact that about 10 percent of one’s hair is in a resting phase rather than a growth phase. Gradually, a person loses the hair in the resting phase. Fortunately, this hair loss does not typically account for a large amount of hair, and the hair that is lost every two or three months is replaced with new growth. This differs during pregnancy, however, as more of a woman’s hair normally goes into the resting phase, and more is lost after childbirth.

Hair loss after childbirth is usually caused when hormones return to their usual levels.
Hair loss after childbirth is usually caused when hormones return to their usual levels.

Hormones are at the root of hair changes that occur both during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy, hormone levels rise, including the pregnant woman’s levels of estrogen. This has the effect of keeping more of a woman’s hair in the resting phase and preventing her from losing it. Once the woman has given birth, her hormone levels return to normal, and the result is hair loss after childbirth.

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Often, the hair loss that occurs after childbirth seems like a lot. This is due to the fact that an increased amount of hair was in the resting phase but less was lost during pregnancy. Fortunately, however, this extra amount of hair shedding is not usually enough to cause alarm. For example, most women do not develop bald-spots after pregnancy, and hair loss after childbirth is not normally permanent. It is worth noting that some woman may experience excessive hair loss during or after pregnancy, but this is more likely to be due to a nutritional deficiency or other factors than normal pregnancy and childbirth.

Some women may find hair loss after childbirth more noticeable than others. For example, women with shorter, thinner hair may have more noticeable hair loss than women with longer, thicker hair. Most women can expect the excess shedding of hair to end within a few months of giving birth.

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