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Female Hair Loss After Pregnancy

I occasionally get asked about hair loss after pregnancy. Some other temporary conditions such as: major surgery, serious infection, prolonged high fever, medication, diet and stress, can cause this type of hair loss too. Postnatal hair loss is very common and almost always grows back to it's normal state (one might get a few extra grey hairs though!). Hair loss caused by the discontinuation of the birth control pill is less common and almost always grows back to it's normal state.

First, let me explain the life cycle of normal hair. It's divided into three phases: actively growing, transitional and resting. The European hair actively grows for about five years, Asian and Negroid hair actively grows for about seven years, at 13mm (Ave.) per month. The hair stops growing for about a month and chemical changes occur in the follicle. The hair rests for two to three months and falls out (about 100 per day is normal). The next hair is on it's way growing out of the same follicle and the cycle begins again.

The usual reason for postnatal hair loss is 'hormonal change'. Hormonal changes in general are a very common cause of female hair loss, although not the only cause. I'm not going to talk about the other causes, just postnatal.

I reckon 98% of all women who have given birth, experience some extra hair loss. During the pregnancy however, hair is often at it's best because of the high levels of female hormones oestrogen (good for hair growth) and progesterone (bad for hair growth), more hair follicles enter the growth phase than normal. After childbirth hormone levels change dramatically, often causing the hair growth cycle to become 'disturbed'. The normal hair growth cycle soon returns and many hairs re-enter the resting phase, which causes excessive moulting. It's at this point that most women notice the hair loss, there is often a massive collection of hairs in the plug-hole after washing, especially if one has long hair. Hair loss occurs from the sixth week to the thirtieth week after childbirth. This type of hair loss is common and the condition is temporary, once the body has settled down and returned to the pre-pregnancy state, normally at around the twenty-eighth week after childbirth, the moulting spontaneously stops. If the loss continues for more than thirty four weeks, one is entering into the realms of androgenetic alopecia (time to see a dermatologist - general practitioner - gynaecologist).

Postnatal Hair Loss often displays it's self as an overall thinning, i.e. three hairs where five were, rather than a bald area on top of the head! Although, there are areas on the scalp I call hot-spots. These are areas on the scalp where problems are most likely to manifest, i.e. eczema and hair loss. These hot-spots are located: A.. the front hairline. B.. behind the ears. C.. top of the head. D.. temples. So, the hair loss can be in patches.

Treatment For Postnatal Hair Loss

Well, you are probably suffering from sleep deprivation, so I'll say plenty of rest and don't worry about it! *Important* Eat a well-balanced diet. Your daily diet should include four servings of dairy products, three to four servings of protein containing foods, five servings of fruits and vegetables, and six servings of breads and other grains. You should also drink plenty of fluids, *avoid* drinks containing caffeine and alcohol. You should have about 500 extra calories when breast feeding. So that's - rest, relax, diet (meaning eat correctly) and enjoy your baby. Your hair will return!

Further Reading

Hair Loss

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