For many women, there is nothing so frightening as the possibility of hair loss and the detrimental effect this would have on their appearance. It’s a worrying thought that, combined with other worries about their career, the kids, the haircare routine and everything in-between, can cause additional stress that adds to the likelihood of hair loss.
It’s important, therefore, that we provide a little reassurance by addressing a common misconception about hair loss and breastfeeding. The short answer is that breastfeeding does not cause hair loss. However, hair loss may occur during this period because of a factor known as postpartum hair loss. This results from a change in oestrogen levels.
Today, we will go over the factors causing hair loss during and after pregnancy, followed by some advice that can help you minimise this hair loss.
What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?
The Australian Breastfeeding Association states that hair loss during the breastfeeding phase isn’t related to breastfeeding itself. It’s pregnancy that influences a change in the levels of hormones linked to hair growth. An increase in oestrogen, for example, causes hair to grow thicker during pregnancy until childbirth.
In the postpartum phase, after childbirth, a significant decrease in oestrogen moves more hair follicles into the shedding phase (more on this below). As a result, the hair continues its regular lifecycle but with slight increases in its falling frequency.
The hair that should have been shed during the pregnancy phase begins falling out now. However, this is nothing to be worried about, as it shows that the hormones are following their regular cycles, and the hair will soon return to the growth phase.
What Is The Typical Hair Cycle?
Before moving on to consider possible treatments and ways of dealing with this hair loss, we need to understand the regular growth cycle in the ‘life’ of a hair follicle. There are three main phases in this cycle.
- Anagen. Follicles grow for between two and six years. At any time, nearly 85% of them are in this stage.
- Catagen. As the growth phase nears its end, follicles become club-shaped and smaller in diameter, slowly leading to their fall. This can last for weeks.
- Telogen. At any given time, around 15% of hair is in this inactive phase where the hair has ceased growing. This is known as the resting phase. It lasts until the anagen phase starts again within two or three months, causing the telogen hair to fall.
Normally, we lose around 50-100 strands daily, but this obviously changes in the postpartum phase. More than 70% of hair in the anagen phase moves to telogen, and this is known by dermatologists as telogen effluvium.
Is There Any Treatment For Postpartum Hair Loss?
Most cases don’t require you to do anything, as postpartum hair loss is temporary, and your hair will return to its healthy pre-pregnancy cycle within a year. However, there are a few things you can do to minimise this hair loss and make your hair look thicker and fuller:
- Use a volumising shampoo and conditioner designed for fine hair, as such products put less weight and pressure on your hair compared to products made for thick hair.
- Limit the use of the conditioner specifically to the hair tips instead of the entire scalp and hair. This will reduce the pressure and weight that leads to hair shedding.
- Consult your hairstylist to find a hairstyle that covers any thinning areas and makes hair appear thicker.
- Reduce your use of heating styling tools at high temperatures as they make your hair dry and more likely to fall.
- Rollers, tight hairstyles and forceful brushing will weaken your hair and make you more vulnerable to hair loss.
Eating healthily and exercising shouldn’t be forgotten either, as properly nourished hair is stronger, resists outside pressure better and regenerates faster. Include fruit and vegetables in your diet and keep yourself hydrated for better overall health and healthier hair.
Breastfeeding has nothing to do with hair loss. Changes in hormone levels cause irregular and temporary hair loss after childbirth as the regular cycle of hair growth is disrupted. While this might be distressing, it is nothing to worry about and will correct itself in a matter of months.
Nourishing your hair and putting less pressure on it when styling can minimise hair loss significantly. If your hair loss continues for more than a year after you’ve given birth, you should speak with an expert. Vinci Hair Clinic is offering a free consultation to all our new clients. Book your appointment today to end your hair loss worries!