If you're like many women, you may have experienced the lushest, thickest locks of your life during pregnancy and the postpartum period. But eventually, this hormone-fueled hair boost gives way to alarming clumps of hair circling your shower drain. After a while, you may notice that your hair looks even thinner than it was pre-pregnancy. What's behind this hair loss, and is it reversible? Read on to learn more about how to identify and treat thinning hair after pregnancy.
What's Behind Postpartum Hair Loss?
The hair cycle includes several distinct phases of growth. At any given time, most of your hair is in the "stable" phase, with some hair being lost as other hair regenerates. During pregnancy, hormones can slow this cycle, which means that much of the hair that would normally be lost (and regrown) instead remains attached to the follicle. Therefore, the pregnancy-related hair thickness you may have noticed was due not to you growing more hair but to you not losing the hair you'd already grown.
During the postpartum period, this hair—along with other hair—is shed. For most women, this simply marks a return to the normal hair cycle, but losing nearly 10 months of built-up hair can be alarming to even the thickest-tressed women. And with fluctuating hormones, sleep levels, and stress, some women may go into follicle overload as their hair gets the signal to begin shedding more quickly than ever.
How Can You Prevent Further Hair Loss?
If you've ever noticed a bulb attached to a stray hair, this indicates that the hair was lost as part of the normal cycle; as a new hair emerges from the follicle, it pushes the "old" hair out, bulb and all. Meanwhile, shorter hairs or those without bulbs can indicate breakage. Examining the hair you're losing to see which category it falls into can give you a better idea of the cause of the hair loss.
For example, if you're noticing a lot of broken hairs around your crown, this could be attributable to keeping your hair pulled back into a ponytail more often than you did pre-kids. Meanwhile, losing an increasing number of bulb-carrying hairs could mean that hormonal disruptions are causing you to lose more hair than you're growing. The good news is, both these causes of hair loss are highly treatable.
A hair restoration specialist can examine your scalp to see whether there are any other conditions that might be contributing to hair loss (for example, inflammation or a fungal infection) and work with you to design a hair growth plan.