Baby weight. Check. Nausea? Check. Shedding hair? Huh?
You knew that your body would undergo some major changes during your pregnancy. Morning sickness, extra pounds, and swollen feet are probably a few that you expected. Hair loss, though? Probably not on your “things to watch out for” list. But it can happen. Hormonal changes due to pregnancy affect your whole body, including your hair. From, “Wow, my hair looks amazing,” to “Ugh, why does my hair look so stringy,” here’s the lowdown on how your hair may be affected during your pregnancy. And, we’ll share some tips on what to do if your hair begins to thin.
Planning for Baby
You know those prenatal vitamins your OBGYN recommended? They help your baby grow healthy and strong, and they’re good for your hair too. Many prenatal vitamins include biotin. Biotin, also called Vitamin B7, is a keratin builder. Keratin is good because it’s a protein that makes up your hair, nails, and skin and keeps them healthy. Prenatal vitamins are also good if you have any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Deficiencies are known for making your hair look dry, thin, or even fall out. The iron, vitamin D3, vitamin A, calcium, and other supplements will fill any voids and help your hair look silky and thick.
During the first trimester of your pregnancy, your estrogen and androgen levels peak, which affects your hair. Some women find that the texture of their hair changes. More curls, less curls, more oily, aren’t unusual. Thicker, shinier, healthier looking hair is also likely. That’s because the higher estrogen levels prolong hair’s growth phase. Less hair falls out, leaving your hair looking thicker and fuller. Woo hoo!
You made it through the morning sickness and thankfully you have more energy now. Not only are you feeling better and have that pregnancy glow that everyone talks about, but you may also find that you’re having a lot of good hair days thanks to less than normal shedding.
Since estrogen levels decline in the third trimester, some women start seeing hair loss or shedding. The hair that was in the growth phase moves into a resting and shedding phase which causes the hair to fall out. If this happens to you, don’t freak out. It’s common and usually temporary as the hair follicles return to a normal growth cycle.
Postpartum Hair Loss
Your baby is three to six months old and you’re noticing that your hair is thinner than it used to be, even before you got pregnant. What’s happening? Hormonal changes, combined with the physical stress of giving birth, can trigger a condition called telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium usually goes away on its own over time and doesn’t need any treatment. Thankfully, you should see improvement within six to twelve months after having your baby.
A Healthy Lifestyle Leads to Healthy Hair
The best way to support hair health from when you think about getting pregnant until after your baby is born is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of our top tips:
1. Eat well
Did you know that the condition of your hair reflects your diet? It’s true, especially after having a baby and if you’re nursing. Eating lean, grass-fed protein, fresh vegetables, fruit, and whole grains will ensure you get the vitamins and minerals needed to support healthy hair growth.
2. Ask about prenatal vitamins
If your OBGYN hasn’t already made the suggestion, make sure you ask about prenatal vitamins. Your hair will love biotin, folic acid, and other vitamins and minerals.
3. Be gentle with your hair
Perms, bleaching, flat irons, tight ponytails, braids, and other harsh hair styling techniques can pull and cause breakage.
4. Manage stress
Being pregnant and becoming a new mom can be stressful. You’re in a new role trying to figure out the rules of the game as you go. You’ve probably heard these tips before: sleep when the baby sleeps, let your partner watch the baby while you take a hot shower, and find other ways to relax. You’ll feel better, and your hair will look better too. Being stressed out can cause telogen effluvium, so the more you can decompress, the better you’ll be able to minimize hair loss.
What if Your Postpartum Hair Loss Seems Excessive?
So there’s postpartum hair loss, and there’s hair loss. If the amount you’re losing seems excessive, there’s no downside to having your dermatologist take a look. It’s good to get peace of mind. After all, your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy. Thyroid and autoimmune conditions can often appear post-pregnancy. He or she can rule out these and other conditions that may be affecting your hair.
What if it turns out that your hair loss is due to some type of alopecia such as female pattern baldness or alopecia areata? Take a deep breath and know that treatment is available. Your dermatologist may prescribe treatments such as Minoxidil to help you regrow your hair. If you’re done having kids, oral or topical DHT blockers such as Finasteride, Dutasteride, or Spironolactone may also be prescribed.
What if You Can’t Leave the Baby to Get a Hair Loss Consultation?
Leaving the house after you’ve had a baby can be difficult. If you’re unsure whether your hair loss is normal or extreme, Happy Head is here to help. Simply answer a few questions about your medical history from home and one of our licensed dermatologists will consult with you remotely. If you’re experiencing normal postpartum shedding, hair growth supplements and thickening shampoo and conditioner may help support your hair’s growth as your body regulates itself. If treatment is needed, medications can be prescribed and shipped directly to your front door.