Excessive hair loss after giving birth may be alarming, but it's a normal part of the postpartum process. The lustrous, thick locks you had during pregnancy -- just like your protruding belly and swollen ankles -- were merely temporary. You can't do a lot to slow down hair loss in the postpartum period, but you can still take steps to bolster healthy tresses.
Why Hair Loss
It may seem like you're losing lots of hair, and you are -- but your body isn't leaving you with a net loss. When you're pregnant, the hormones you produce keep your hair in the telogen, or resting, phase for longer than normal. As a result, during pregnancy you lose less than the average 100 to 125 hairs per day that non-pregnant women lose. Once your child is born, your hormones reset; at about the 12-week point, those rested hairs move into the catagen, or shedding, phase. You may lose up to 500 hairs per day to make up for the slow-down while you were carrying your baby.
The accelerated hair loss lasts for six months to a year, and you can't really do much to stop it. Harsh brushing and aggressive shampooing can make the hair loss seem more noticeable. Hair may come out in clumps, or concentrate at the hairline, creating the illusion that you're balding.
What to Do
Changing your style and styling habits can help minimize the aesthetic effects of hair loss. Brushing and shampooing less often and opting to let hair air dry, rather than using a round brush and blow-dryer, may make the loss less noticeable. You can also change your style or color to give the illusion of body. Shorter locks look fuller; bangs can mask the thinning at the front of your hairline. Using products, such as mousse and thickening conditioner, may also help you inject some heft into your hair. Avoid processing treatments that can dry out your hair and cause it to become brittle and break off. These strategies won't stop the natural shedding process, but they can make it less noticeable.
Keep Your Hair Healthy Through Diet
While you do experience this postpartum hair loss, keep the hair you maintain as healthy as possible from the inside out. A balanced diet that includes plenty of biotin and other B vitamins, zinc, and vitamins A, C and E provides the hair with strengthening nutrients. B vitamins and zinc are present in meats, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Fruits and vegetables provide you with flavonoids and the recommended vitamins that support healthy locks. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue your prenatal vitamin or add another vitamin supplement to help you get the needed nutrients.
Keep in Mind
Your hair may never be quite like it was prior to giving birth. Sometimes the texture permanently changes and becomes curlier or straighter. If you find you're still losing hair well after your baby is a year old, consult your doctor. Nutritional deficiencies and hormonal disruptions -- such as thyroid issues -- could be to blame.