We all would love to maintain a thick, lustrous main through pregnancy and postpartum but unfortunately, as experts tell SheKnows, it’s impossible to prevent pregnancy hair loss — which happens to roughly 50 percent of women. The two-fold cause for hair loss is common knowledge in the medical field. First of all, women hair generally thickens during pregnancy due to hormones and growth factors.
According to dermatologist Dr. Lindsey Bordone, who specializes in hair loss at ColumbiaDoctors and is the Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center, there is no way to hinder your body from going back to its pre-pregnancy state and maintaining that increase in hair volume.
The other factor in post-pregnancy hair loss, though, has to do with telogen effluvium—a reversible condition in which hair falls out after a stressful experience.
“Changes like delivery, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation and hormones place a stress on the body and in response the body works to conserve energy and resources from areas of low priority, such as hair growth, in favor of supporting other more critical changes taking place,” she tells SheKnows. “When this happens many hairs are shifted to the shed phase of the hair cycle and then in a one to three month period shedding begins.”
Typically, the shedding only lasts two to three months and most women’s hair will gradually grow back their pre-pregnancy baseline hair density. Still, there are ways to regrow your hair after giving birth that new moms (who aren’t brand spokespeople) swear by.
One mother, Elaine Marshall, said that Sugar Bear Hair supplements—which includes vitamins to support hair growth—worked when her hair thinned out from hormones. “They have never been as long or strong as since I’ve been taking the supplement,” she explained.
Another woman, Emma Sothern of Lady Alopecia, highly-recommends Omega-3 supplements (like fish oil) and urged women to check for iron or zinc deficiencies, which can result in hair loss.
Trichologist and hair biochemist Dr. Dominic Burg, acknowledges that there’s no definite tried-and-true approach to preventing hair loss, but here are his main takeaways on how to lessen its effects and look after your locks.
Consider your nutrition
“Added demands on the body’s energy and changed nutritional requirements after birth also disrupt the natural hair cycle. To minimize any impact, make sure you eat a good balanced diet (as much as is possible), with plenty of protein, leafy greens, fruits and vegetables,” Burg says. “This is not always easy after the arrival of a new baby; so many women get nutritional support by taking one of the many postnatal supplements. Always ask your physician advice before starting any oral supplementation, particularly if you’re breastfeeding.”
Minimize stress (or at least try to!)
According to Berg, stress makes your body produce stress hormones such as cortisol, which impact your hair “alongside the changes in estrogen and progesterone, potentially exacerbating the effects.”
Be gentle with your strands
“Resting follicles are fragile and can be dislodged easily,” Berg adds. “Be kind to your follicles when brushing, washing and drying.”
And don’t use too much pressure to keep these fragile hairs on your scalp for a bit longer.
Add volume and fortify
“If you do experience excess shedding, you can add back volume with specialised products,” he says. “Look for gentle, lightweight cleansers and conditioners (preferably clean and natural) specifically designed to volumize with added ingredients such as keratin for fortification and baobab to provide hydration.”
And remember, dry shampoo can still be your best friend! Find a good quality one that can boost volume and texture. (Just “use sparingly and in a well-ventilated area,” according to Berg.)