During pregnancy, a person may notice that their hair becomes thicker, and they may experience additional hair growth. After pregnancy, hair loss may occur due to changes in hormone levels. Hair should return to its previous condition after some time.

This article describes the hair changes a person can expect during and after pregnancy.

It will also offer tips and potential treatment options for postpartum hair loss.

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People may notice changes in their hair texture and hair growth during pregnancy.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), hormonal changes during pregnancy may cause additional hair growth on the head and body.

Some people may notice hair growth in areas where they typically do not have hair, including their face, chest, abdomen, and arms.

The hair may also become thicker. A person may notice that their hair appears thicker approximately 15 weeks into pregnancy. The individual strands of hair do not become thicker, but the increase of estrogen during pregnancy causes the hair to stay in the growing phase of its cycle for longer.

A person’s hair should return to its previous condition within 6 months after delivery.

In other cases, a person’s hair may become thinner or fall out. This can occur due to a decrease in estrogen. The decrease in estrogen may occur as a result of:

  • no longer taking an oral contraceptive pill
  • a hormonal imbalance
  • a pregnancy loss or stillbirth

A person may experience hair loss from the scalp approximately 3 months after giving birth.

Postpartum hair loss — medically known as telogen effluvium — occurs shortly after childbirth due to the body’s changing levels of progesterone and estrogen. Doctors may also refer to postpartum hair loss as excessive hair shedding.

After the birth, the body’s hormone levels drop quickly to return to their prepregnancy levels. This decrease in hormones triggers the hair to revert to its former growth cycle.

Although it can differ from person to person, the hair should grow back entirely in 3–6 months.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), postpartum hair loss is normal and temporary.

It is also important to note that it is not true hair loss. It usually stops within 6 months post-birth, and most people see their hair return to its usual thickness within 1 year, although this could happen sooner.

Those who do not regain fullness within 1 year should talk with a doctor, as excessive hair loss could be due to another health condition, such as hypothyroidism or thyroiditis.

Hair loss due to pregnancy is temporary, and a person does not need to take any steps to treat it. However, the AAD suggests the following tips for postpartum haircare:

  • switching to a volumizing shampoo and conditioner
  • avoiding shampoos labeled “conditioning shampoo” and conditioners labeled “intensive conditioners”
  • applying conditioner to the ends of the hair instead of the scalp
  • using a conditioner formulated for thinning or fine hair
  • trying a new hairstyle that gives the illusion of a fuller look

Maintaining a healthy diet

Nutrition is an important part of postpartum recovery. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins helps ensure the body is getting the nutrients it needs to function and promote healing.

The Trichological Society recommends the following foods for hair growth:

  • fish, including salmon and mackerel
  • dark, leafy greens, including spinach, Swiss chard, and broccoli
  • legumes, such as kidney beans and lentils
  • nuts, such as Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamia nuts, and cashews
  • carrots

Taking nutritional supplements

While no specific vitamins are proven to improve or reverse postpartum hair loss, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) suggests that everyone consider a daily vitamin D supplement, including those pregnant and nursing.

Practicing stress management

Stress can negatively affect a person’s health. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), chronic stress can cause hair loss.

A person can reduce their stress levels by:

  • exercising regularly
  • practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga
  • considering counseling
  • practicing deep breathing
Learn more

Learn more about how to manage stress.

Managing stress:

Breathing techniques:

Exercise during pregnancy:

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding changes to a person’s hair and pregnancy.

Does lactation contribute to hair loss?

The Australian Breastfeeding Association notes that there is no relation between nursing and postpartum hair loss.

There are three main stages of hair growth: growth, apoptosis-driven regression, and quiescent state. People also refer to the growth stage as the anagen phase.

According to a 2016 retrospective review, 4 months after giving birth, lactation had an influence on the anagen phase.

However, the authors also note that the total number of people in the research was too small to make an assumption regarding the effect of lactation on the health of a person’s hair.

Is hair loss a sign of pregnancy?

Hair loss is not typically an indication that a person is pregnant.

Although hair loss can occur during pregnancy, it typically results from a decrease in estrogen, which can happen:

  • when a person stops taking their oral contraceptive pill
  • due to a hormonal imbalance during pregnancy
  • if a person has experienced a pregnancy loss or abortion

Signs of pregnancy include:

  • missing a period
  • missing two or more periods in a row
  • slight bleeding
  • sore and swollen nipples and breasts
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • vomiting and nausea
  • food cravings or food aversions
  • mood swings
  • frequent urination

If a person thinks they might be pregnant, they should contact a medical professional.

Some people may notice their hair is thicker and grows more quickly during pregnancy. Shortly after childbirth, however, people may experience postpartum hair loss. This occurs as a result of changing hormone levels.

Postpartum hair loss can occur and is usually temporary. The AAD notes that many people may notice a peak in hair loss 4 months after childbirth.

If a person’s hair does not return to its previous condition after 1 year, they should contact a doctor.