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Postpartum Shedding: Why You Lose Hair After Baby and What to do About It

Telogen Effluvium. It just sounds bad, doesn’t it? What about this, Telogen Gravidarum. Yes, that one sounds even worse. They’re just fancy ways of saying hair loss, and hair loss associated with child birth. No matter what you call it, postpartum shedding isn’t fun, and you can lose a significant amount of hair.

postpartum shedding and hair loss

Like it or not, the amazing, full hair that many pregnant women enjoy has to go away sometime, and that’s typically about 3-4 months after you give birth, though the hair loss can be delayed until later by nursing or another pregnancy.

In order to understand what is going on here, first you should go and review the normal hair cycle. Then head back to this post.

So, when your hair is cycling normally, thanks to how asynchronous your hair follicles cycle, you’ll have a continual shedding of hair, rather than periods of massive quantities of being shed. However, when you’re pregnant this go all haywire! The normal progression from anagen to telogen phase is slowed waaaay down. While you don’t have a total halt of the normal hair cycle, a lot more hair follicles will stay in anagen and very few will make it to telogen phase. Your hair stops shedding, and as a result while pregnant you’ll have a lot more hair on your head! It will feel full and lush.

All of that changes a few months postpartum. While the postpartum shedding starts for most moms about 3-4 months after delivery, it really can start as early as 1 month or as late as a year or more. For me, with both of my pregnancies I first had a phase of moderate postpartum shedding at about 3.5 months out and then a bigger shedding after I weaned my daughters.

Explanation of the Normal Hair Cycle

During postpartum shedding, your hair cycles are starting to operate normally again, and all of those follicles that were about to enter catagen and then telogen phase do, at almost the same time. When 9 months or more worth of hair follicles suddenly start entering catagen and telogen phases at the same time, you’ll have a decrease in your hair density all over your head.

This doesn’t happen all at the same time, they still spread themselves out a bit, but there is a much higher proportion not actively growing, so your hair will feel much thinner than normal. Combine that with the super thick hair most pregnant women have grown used to, and you’ll suddenly feel like you’re going bald!

While your hair is undergoing telogen effluvium, it really can feel like you’re losing clumps of hair each day. (Want to know how much is normal? Take a peek at what my shower drain looked like a few days ago, warning that picture is gross. And that’s normal for me when I’m losing my hair postpartum.)

While telogen effluvium (postpartum shedding) can last up to 15 months, it can take a while for your hair to start growing again afterwards. So, the effects of the telogen effluvium, the thinner hair, can last for years. Yes.

So, what can you do to prevent this from happening? Absolutely nothing. No matter what you do, you will have postpartum shedding as your hormone levels go back to normal and your hair growth cycle restores itself. But, you can do a few things to help minimize the effects.

1. Prevent other forms of hair loss

You can make hair loss worse with major illness (which yes, might not be preventable), rapid weight loss, iron deficiency, certain medications can cause TE, endocrine disorders such as hyper or hypothyroidism, scalp disorders. If you suspect you have any other health issues, you should definitely see your doctor.

2. Prevent breakage

When you’re losing a lot of hair already, the last thing you need is your hair that’s left to break off and look unhealthy! While that breakage is usually at the ends of your hair, it very well could be much higher up on the hair shaft, which makes your hair feel even thinner!

• Avoid heat styling. When you do use heat, be sure to use a heat protecting product first!
• Get regular trims! It’s tempting to skip them to get more length, but you definitely need to cut off any damaged ends before the damage can split your hair up the entire shaft. You can’t really “fix” a split end, it just needs to come off.
• Keep your hair healthy with regular use of conditioner and occasional use of a deep conditioner. I simply swap out my regular conditioner for a deep treatment product about once a week in the shower. It doesn’t take any extra time and the deep conditioning really does help my hair.
• Avoid styling your hair in ways that stress it/add to damage. For example, wearing the same pony tail day after day, especially if you’re just using a regular rubber and to pull back your hair. Vary your style to decrease the pulling on your hair and be sure to use hair friendly styling items like fabric hair ties.

3. Help your hair grow back

A good diet is always the best way to improve your hair’s growth. It works much better than adding in additional supplements. If you do want to add a supplement, Biotin is a water soluble vitamin that has been found to speed hair growth. You’ll get a lot of Biotin if you’re continuing your prenatal vitamins, which you’ll want to do if you are nursing. You also might want to consider a hair and nail vitamin, but I would discuss this with your doctor first.

4. Make your thin hair feel (or look) thicker

Once your hair starts to grow back, I swear those little baby hairs seem to be small and short for forever! But, you can take advantage of them. If your hair is dark, go and get it colored. The baby hairs will take up the hair color as well and make your hair look much thicker. I have friends who did their roots done every 2-3 weeks as the baby hairs were coming in. Darkening those baby hairs as they came in made a big difference!

Other options for helping your hair look thicker include dry shampoo and volumizing products.

Guide to Skin Care while Pregnant or Nursing

Don’t forget to check out the other articles in my Pregnancy and Nursing Skin Care Guide!

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About Me

I’m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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  1. 10.10.18
    Bailey said:

    While I know there is nothing you can do to prevent postpartum hair loss, is it ok to use products like Aveda Invati Advanced hair growth system as well as taking a hair skin nail vitamin while nursing?

    • 10.11.18
      15mins said:

      I’m not sure what is in that hair growth system, so I can’t speak for that specific product. You shouldn’t be taking a specific hair/skin/nail vitamin while nursing, you should still be on your prenatal vitamins while nursing, and that should provide everything you need.

  2. 10.12.18
    Huzzyy said:

    Hi, stumbled into your blog and love it! So informative in a fun way!

    Do you have any recommendation for shampoo and conditioner for pregnant women? Much appreciated, thanks!!

    • 10.12.18
      15mins said:

      You don’t need to worry about hair products while pregnant. I would do everything possible to avoid damage and breakage, since that will make the shedding later appear worse. My favorites for damaged hair are these ones from Kerastase. I buy multiples from my salon and hoard it! (It’s also at Sephora now)

  3. 1.31.19
    DEBBY SOLIZ said:

    Is it safe to use SHEAMOISTURE Dragon’s Blood & Coffee Cherry Volume + Conditioner during pregnancy? It contains “Dragon’s Blood Extract, a rich resin, coats strands to help to promote a fuller appearance
    Coffee Cherry Extract is rich in antioxidants and invigorating caffeine.
    Black Currant Oil is a natural source of gamma-linolenic acid known to promote healthy hair growth.”

    Thank you.

    • 2.1.19
      15mins said:

      You don’t need to worry about shampoo and conditioner being pregnancy safe per my OB.

      • 2.1.19
        Debby Soliz said:

        Thank you! So kind of you to reply. Your articles are so informative. Really do appreciate it the info.

  4. 5.11.19
    Jenelle said:


    Do you recommend any dry shampoo brands during pregnancy? I usually use Batiste but not sure if it’s safe anymore. Thanks!

    • 5.11.19
      15mins said:

      You shouldn’t need to worry about hair products, though usually you only spray things on your hair, not the scalp itself. Dry shampoo is kind of the exception to that. The original Batiste (and all the scents) look ok to me!

    • 7.26.21
      Edith said:

      Is there a good over the counter dry shampoo you recommended for pregnant women? Or even a salon brand dry shampoo? Thanks!

      • 7.26.21
        Christine said:

        My favorite is Oribe Dry Shampoo, which is safe for pregnancy and nursing.

  5. 8.6.19
    kait said:

    Hi, there is a scalp treatment in the Aveda Invati line that is meant to treat hair thinning. Can you tell me if these ingredients are safe?

    Ingredients: Alcohol Denat. , Water\Aqua\Eau , Glycerin , Citric Acid , Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract , Panax Ginseng (Ginseng) Root Extract , Emblica Officinalis (Amla) Fruit Extract , Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract , Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Extract , Polygonum Cuspidatum Root (Japanese Knotweed) Extract , Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract , Laminaria Saccharina (Seaweed) Extract , Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract , Epilobium Fleisheri Extract , Chlorella Vulgaris Extract , Adenosine Phosphate , Arginine , Acetyl Carnitine Hcl , Creatine , Pyridoxine Hcl , Glucosamine Hcl , Caffeine , Tocopheryl Nicotinate , Tocopheryl Acetate , Malt Extract , Yeast Extract\Faex\Extrait De Levure , Panicum Miliaceum (Millet) Seed Oil , Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose , Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate , Butylene Glycol , Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil , Hydroxypropylcellulose , Simethicone , Sodium Hydroxide , Fragrance (Parfum) , Farnesol , Eugenol , Linalool , Benzyl Salicylate , Citronellol , Citral , Limonene , Benzyl Benzoate , Geraniol , Isoeugenol , Phenoxyethanol

    • 8.6.19
      15mins said:

      The licorice root is something to avoid while pregnant but it is fine for nursing. Note, it will NOT stop post partum shedding

  6. 1.7.20
    Camila said:

    I was aware of this massive postpartum hair loss but now that’s happening, I’m scared!
    I’m not breastfeeding anymore and not taking prenatal vitamins.
    Any hair supplement that you think it might be good?
    BTW, your blog: hands down!
    Appreciate your time to help us!

    • 1.7.20
      15mins said:

      The shedding WILL stop, I swear! No supplement will help it, it’s hormonally driven. If it is truly to the point that others feel like your hair is significantly thinner than before pregnancy (you can’t judge it yourself, we all think it is horrible, because we get used to how much hair we have while pregnant) you can have your doctor screen you for anemia or thyroid issues. The hair will start coming back soon, I’d add in Biotin or Vivascal to help with growth then. You can’t slow the loss, but you can speed up the regrowth 🙂

      • 1.10.20
        Camila said:

        You are so right!! Thank you so much! 😉

  7. 3.17.20
    J said:

    Dear Dr.,

    Could you kindly take a look if this Kerastase Densifique “Cure scalp treatment” is pregnancy and nursing safe? Thank you!

    Key Ingredients:
    Stemoxydine®: Mimics stem cells optimal environment that allows their interaction and awakens dormant follicles.
    Complex Glycan: Restores thicker looking hair.
    Vitamins B3, B5 & B6: Boost follicular activity.
    Texturizing Polymer: Has an instant densifying action on hair fiber.

    Full Ingredients List:
    Aqua / Water – Alcohol Denat. – Diethyllutidinate – Magnesium Sulfate – Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil – Xylitylglucoside – Anhydroxylitol – Xylitol – Hexyl Cinnamal – Linalool – Citronellol – Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone – Madecassoside – Arginine – Safflower Glucoside – Geraniol – Pyridoxine Hcl – Niacinamide – Calcium Pantothenate – Tocopherol – Bht – Sodium Citrate – Parfum / Fragrance

    • 3.17.20
      15mins said:

      Looks ok

      • 3.17.20
        J said:

        Thank you~!

  8. 2.7.22
    Carrie said:

    I am wondering if Bosley or Nioxin products are safe to use while breastfeeding?

    • 2.7.22
      Christine said:

      I can’t comment on product safety without a full list, and I answer those questions over on the big brand list. They wouldn’t help with this kind of shedding though.

  9. 2.27.22
    Sara said:

    Do you know if Toppik hair fibers are safe during pregnancy? I had thin hair before pregnancy. Here are the ingredients: Keratin, Ammonium Chloride, Silica, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Color (CI 15510, etc.)
    Thank you so much–I really appreciate it!

    • 2.27.22
      Christine said:

      they’re fine!

      • 3.4.22
        Sara said:

        Thank you so much!!

  10. 1.13.24
    shorouk elsadek said:

    Hey doctor ❤, is it safe to use hair care products like hair masks and hair serums that contain rosemary oil, Hydrolyzed keratin/protein, capsicum, argan oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil?

    • 1.13.24
      Christine said:

      Yes, it’s fine.

  11. 2.7.24
    Lauren Shaw said:

    How does it work for using your hands to apply the products to your hair? Does that small amount of exposure matter if you wash your hands after? Or do you need to wear gloves?

    • 2.7.24
      Christine said:

      Just wash your hands

  12. 6.8.24
    Mirna said:

    I know this is a postpartum discussion but I’m currently pregnant and have bald spots from my thin hair and usually use hair fibers like toppik or clingy hairs to cover up ( essentially like a powder that gets sprinkled onto the scalp). Are these safe?

    • 6.8.24
      Christine said:

      they’re fine!