Breastfeeding does not cause hair loss. Increased hair shedding is common during the breastfeeding and postpartum period. Changing hormone levels cause the shedding. Falling estrogen levels can make hair seem thinner or shed excessively.
It is typical for people to experience hair loss or excessive shedding during the breastfeeding and postpartum stage. Hair loss during this time is typically due to a drop in estrogen levels.
In this article, we look at how changing hormone levels during and after pregnancy can cause hair loss, and provide tips for managing hair loss during this time.
Pregnancy causes hormone changes within the body that affect the hair cycle. During pregnancy, hormones help prevent hair from shedding and promote hair growth. People may notice their hair looking fuller during pregnancy because of this.
After childbirth, hormones return to their usual levels, and estrogen levels fall. This shift in hormones returns the hair cycle to its usual pattern, including the typical level of hair shedding. Since people shed less hair during pregnancy, there is more to shed once estrogen levels decrease.
It can be alarming to see a lot of hair falling out. However, it is a sign that a person’s hormones are working as they should.
What is the typical hair cycle?
Hair goes through a growth cycle that includes growth and shedding. It includes
- Anagen: This is the growth phase, where the hair follicles push out hair fiber. According to DermNet NZ, around 85% of hair follicles are actively growing hair and will continue to do so for
- Catagen: This is the transition phase when hair follicles decrease in diameter and hairs can become club-shaped. If these hairs subsequently shed, hair may appear to be thinning. This stage can last for a few weeks.
- Telogen: This is the resting phase when the hair follicle is not active, and no hair grows. DermNet NZ states that around 15% of hair follicles are typically in the resting phase. After 2–3 months, the anagen phase starts again and pushes telogen hair out.
In a regular hair cycle, it is typical for people to lose around 50–100 hairs each day. A disruption to the cycle, such as childbirth, can result in up to 70% of hairs in the anagen phase switching to the telogen phase. Dermatologists refer to this as telogen effluvium.
Postpartum hair loss is temporary, and people will not usually require treatment. It may take up to a year before the hair returns to its prepregnancy state.
If people feel they have severe hair loss or shedding, they may wish to contact a doctor. In some cases, hair shedding can be a sign of other conditions, such as thyroid issues.
People may find the following tips helpful for making hair appear thicker and fuller:
- Use volumizing shampoo and conditioner formulated for fine hair, as these products may not weigh the hair down as much as products for thicker hair or intensive, heavy conditioners.
- Apply conditioner to the ends of the hair rather than the scalp or all over. Using conditioner all over the hair can weigh the hair down.
- Consider consulting a stylist or hairdresser about a new style to make the hair appear thicker and fuller.
- Avoid vigorous brushing, wearing tight hairstyles, or using rollers. These can pull more at the hair.
- Avoid applying excess heat to the hair with styling tools, and either use the coolest setting on a hairdryer or allow hair to air dry.
Hair loss after childbirth is a common occurrence. It happens when hormone levels fall after pregnancy.
People will usually not require any treatment for postpartum hair loss. Changing hairstyles or using volumizing products may help to make hair appear thicker and fuller.
After 6 months, excess hair loss usually stops, and hair should return to its prepregnancy state within a year of childbirth.
Hair loss is common after giving birth due to changing hormone levels. Higher hormone levels during pregnancy can reduce hair loss, making the hair appear thicker and fuller.
After childbirth, hormone levels such as estrogen fall back to usual levels, resulting in hair shedding. As less hair sheds during pregnancy, there is more to shed after childbirth. This sudden shift may make hair appear thinner.
Postpartum hair loss is temporary, and the hair will usually return to its typical state within the first year following childbirth.
There is no treatment for postpartum hair loss. However, if it is a concern, a person can try different hairstyles or volumizing hair products.
Eating a nutritious, balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals may also help promote healthy hair growth.
If a person is concerned about excessive hair loss, they may wish to contact a doctor to check for underlying conditions.