It seems deeply unjust that along with everything else a new mother has to deal with, she also has to cope with thinning tresses. But alas, it is all too common for women’s hair to thin out postpartum. Which may make some moms wonder if there’s anything they can do to get those follicles back in shape, and speed up hair growth.
I remember all too well walking into the bathroom one morning when my son was about 4 months old, and standing there in confusion, staring at my bangs. The problem? I had never given myself bangs. Nope. My new look came courtesy of my hair trying to grow back in, after a quarter-sized patch of it fell out postpartum.
Why So Much Hair Jumps Ship After Baby
Dr. Laura Scott is a dermatologist (with a super cute blog… she has four little girls), and she kindly breaks down the why of postpartum hair loss: “It’s called telogen efluvium. Normally, the hairs on our head are going through a life cycle, and it’s normal for us to lose 100 or so hairs a day. During pregnancy, however, the hormonal environment actually switches the hair cycle… hairs are in a growth phase for longer and they actually don’t fall out, that’s why hair during pregnancy is often so full and gorgeous! But after delivery, the hormones change and many of those hairs that should have fallen during pregnancy now get the message that it’s time to get ready to fall. Typically about two to three months after delivery is when we see the hair loss start.”
The good news is that, in most cases, the hair does come back. Though how much and how quickly can vary. Dr. Jenny Lui is a dermatologist (who also has a very cool blog) and she says that “chronic sleep deprivation, stress, poor diet, and other internal factors can contribute to ongoing hair loss. Some moms never fully recover. Though it does usually improve over time, by six months to one year after giving birth.”
Can You Make It Grow Back Faster?
Of course, having a wee bald spot in the middle of one’s forehead (as I so gloriously did) can make you feel a little self-conscious, and may make you worry you’re going to wake up one morning looking full-on Bezos. (You won’t!) And you might wonder if there’s anything you can do to get that hair a-growin’.
Well, Dr. Scott says… no. Not really. “Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton new moms can do postpartum. There are plenty of products that market themselves as helping, but in reality the growth that people see is the growth that happens with time anyway, with or without whatever product.”
Dr. Lui agrees, saying that it generally boils down to getting enough sleep, eating well, and being sure to take vitamin D.
When To See A Doc
There’s no need to consult a derm on this front, unless, Dr. Scott, says, “moms experienced hair thinning prior to becoming pregnant, or if they have anyone in their family with hair thinning or balding. These women have a higher likelihood of having another type of hair thinning, and should see a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis. I typically recommend that if patients haven’t started seeing regrowth by 10 to 12 months postpartum, they should set up an appointment.”
But in general, you just have to hang tight and practice patience. Rest assured that most people won’t even notice your thinning hair, as they’ll be way too distracted by your adorable bébé! Or by the way you’re lactating through your shirt…
Dr. Laura Scott, board-certified dermatologist and Associate Director Skin of Color Division at the University of Miami
Dr.Jenny Liu, board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor in the Twin Cities