There are lots of changes that happen to a woman’s body after having a baby. Postpartum hair loss is one of them.
Postpartum hair loss (also known as postpartum alopecia) refers to unusually high hair loss that happens after pregnancy. It can start at any point after giving birth, but it’s typically most noticeable at the 3-4 month mark.
The good news is that this kind of hair loss is normal and not a cause for concern unless you are still losing more hair than normal after your baby’s first birthday. (In that case, be sure to contact your health care provider.)
Postpartum hair loss can, however, be inconvenient and unsettling, so here is more about what causes it and what you can do about it.
Cause of Postpartum Hair Loss
Postpartum hair loss is technically not hair loss at all. Your hair is just shedding at a faster rate than normal. This happens because of hormones.
While you are pregnant, your higher level of hormones stops your hair from at falling out at the normal rate, which is about 100 strands of hair per day.
After giving birth, your body and hair make up for lost time by dropping more strands of hair than normal.
This can sometimes be up to 500 strands per day and can feel like major hair loss.
However, it’s important to know that this is just 9 months worth of normal hair shedding happening all at once. In many cases, this accelerated hair loss will stop around the 6 month mark, but it can take up to a year.
Still, there are several things you can do at home to help strengthen your hair and stimulate new hair growth. Here are 5 of the top home remedies to try.
Eat a Hair-Healthy Diet
One of the best things you can do for your overall hair health postpartum is to eat a healthy diet that will provide your body with the nutrients to regrow strong, healthy hair.
Hair is made up of protein, so this is one of the most important nutrients to be getting in your diet. Healthy sources include cage-free eggs, fermented dairy products, some grass-fed red meat (which also contains iron and B vitamins to help with hair health), and fish.
A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to go along with good protein sources will help to give your body the nutrients it needs. Dark leafy greens, especially, contain iron along with other nutrients that can help with hair health. (1)
Be Gentle with Your Hair
As your body and hormones recover from pregnancy and giving birth, it’s important to be gentle with your hair until it gets back to normal.
Harsh styling products, using high heat, and chemical hair products can all make postpartum hair loss worse. Buying quality natural hair products keeps chemicals that may cause further hormone imbalance away from your skin and hair.
You may also wish to try using a brush or comb with wider bristles and avoid combing hair out when it’s wet.
Treating your hair and scalp well will prevent your hair loss from being any worse than it has to be.
Use DIY Treatments and Herbs for Your Hair
There are quite a few DIY hair masks you can try to nourish your scalp and hair.
Avocado is packed full of nutrients. You can take a ripe one, mash it up, and put it on your hair/scalp as is or add a tablespoon of coconut milk for more nutrients.
Eggs and mayonnaise are classic hair masks that can provide your scalp and hair with a lot of nourishment. You can also regularly massage your scalp 1-2 times per week using a quality oil like castor oil, olive oil, or almond oil.
Some herbs can also be very beneficial. Fenugreek, especially, can help to treat postpartum hair loss.
All you need to do is soak some fenugreek seeds in water overnight. Then, apply that water to your hair and scalp, and leave it sit a few hours before washing with natural shampoo.
Gotu kola is a popular Ayurvedic herb that is often used for hair loss and to strengthen hair. It can be taken as a tea or powder or used as an oil or powder as part of a hair mask.
To make a simple hair rinse, combine equal parts of dried nettle and horsetail. Steep about 1/3-1/2 cup of the mixture in 2 cups of boiling water to make a strong tea. After it cools, pour it over your head and hair and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing out.
You can also use the nettle leaf to make tea and drink it so that you’re getting the iron and other nutrients to help your hair from the inside out.
Also, try this Iron Tonic Tea that will help stop hair loss that’s due to low iron levels.
Managing and reducing stress is easier said than done right after you’ve given birth and are caring for a newborn.
However, your stress levels may have an impact on the degree of hair loss you have to deal with. One study indicates that higher levels of stress can be a factor in hair falling out at a higher rate. (2)
While there isn’t a way to completely get rid of stress (especially with a new baby in the house), consider trying simple activities.
Take naps during the day if your baby is keeping you up at night. The amount of sleep you get can really impact stress levels.
Also, take any time out you can for self-care, which could mean a bath, aromatherapy, or anything else you find relaxing.
Take a Quality Vitamin
Vitamins should not be used as a replacement for a healthy diet, but they can boost your nutrient intake and help with hair growth.
Taking a quality prenatal vitamin after giving birth will continue to support your body and provide it with the nutrients to grow strong and healthy hair (and nails).
Biotin is one of the main nutrients recommended for healthy hair, nails, and skin. Consider adding biotin in as a supplement (many multivitamins already contain it) or looking for a shampoo containing biotin.
Collagen can also help to rebuild and regrow hair by providing many of the amino acids needed to build keratin (the protein hair is made of). (3) You can get extra collagen through bone broth or a collagen supplement.
Silica is an important mineral and helps in slowing excessive shedding of hair. It plays a big role in rebuilding collagen and making the right nutrients available to hair follicles. You can take silica as a supplement.
Sulfur, in the form of MSM, can also help your hair grow back faster and healthier. Along with protein, sulfur is one of the main building blocks for healthy hair. Adding an organic sulfur/MSM supplement in could be a big help!
Finally, fish oil and flaxseed oil both have potential for promoting hair growth because they are rich in Omega-3s. (4) Consider adding in one of these to supplement your diet.
Dealing with Postpartum Hair Loss Naturally
While postpartum hair loss is not fun to deal with, it should slow down within a year.
Eating well, managing your stress levels, and using some other natural treatments can help your hair to grow back strong and healthy. Try out these simple natural remedies to help you get through this phase of life!
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and should not be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your health care provider, herbalist, midwife, or naturopathic physician before taking herbs, supplements, etc. Here's the link to our full disclaimer.