'My Hair Is Falling Out After Giving Birth': Is It Normal?

hair loss

You've given birth -- and, amid the haze of caring for your newborn, you notice something alarming: your hair is falling out! Is it due to stress? Sleep deprivation? Will you end up bald? Time to take a deep breath, Mom. Postpartum hair loss, also known as telogen effluvium, is a common -- and temporary -- condition for new moms.

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"Postpartum hair loss can affect anywhere between 40 to 50 percent of women," explains Jessica Shepherd, MD, an OB/GYN at Her View Point, an online community for women. Caused by fluctuating hormone levels, the shedding usually peaks around three to four months after birth ... and then it tapers off.

Even better news: Your hair will return to its original lushness six to 12 months after childbirth, all on its own.

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Not sure that's fast enough? Well, there's good news there too. 

"There is no known cure for telogen effluvium, but for those eager to try something, over-the-counter Minoxidil may be of some benefit and is well tolerated by most patients," says Fayne Frey, MD, a dermatologist in West Nyack, NY.

Moms who are still seeing significant hair loss a year after giving birth  -- or if you notice prominent bald spots after that point, rash or irritation -- should consult a doctor, since the problem could be caused by conditions unrelated to your pregnancy. Some possibilities, while rare, include hypothyroidism, chronic illness like kidney or liver disease, acute illness like an infection, or an adverse side effect to medications you're on (especially hormonal therapies).

But in most cases, "postpartum hair loss is a reactive process and resolves on its own," says Dr. Frey. "So reassurance and patience is the best treatment." 

What postpartum symptoms have surprised you?

 

Image via Adam Gregor/shutterstock

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