Can breastfeeding cause hair loss?

Education Section

By James Anthony

Pregnant and breastfeeding women often have concern that they are losing hair. Women especially experience postpartum hair loss which is completely normal and temporary. This temporary hair loss is completely unrelated to breastfeeding and women usually return to their normal hair growth cycle between 6 to 12 months after birth. It is during these 6 to 12 months that they are also breastfeeding the new born child, which is why they think that breastfeeding is the main cause of hair loss. However, this is never the case. Whether women nurse the child or bottle feed him by expressing milk using an electric or manual breast pump like medela pump in style advanced breast pump, breastfeeding never leads to hair loss.

Hair growth follows a routine, which includes the growth phase and a resting phase. At any time, around 85 – 95% of hair on your scalp is in the growth phase, whereas the rest of it is in the resting phase. During pregnancy and after child birth, a woman’s body undergoes many hormonal changes which stimulate an increase in the percentage of hair in the growth phase. Due to this hormonal change, expecting women usually experience thick and shiny hair during their pregnancy months. Taking prenatal vitamins also helps the hair to grow healthier, but half of them fall out after giving birth. This is due to the fact that pregnancy can trigger all the hair on the scalp to move to the growth phase, so that no hair stays in the resting phase. Most women do not even have a single hair fall during pregnancy and infant they experience new hair growth as well. After the pregnancy is over, all the hair enters the shedding phase, due to which women experience hair fall. Hundreds of hair is lost every day instead of the dozens which fall naturally. This kind of hair loss is called a Telogen Effluvium, which usually occurs 3 to 6 months after birth, when the woman is usually breastfeeding. Women are often under the wrong impression that breastfeeding is the cause of hair loss, which is not the case.

Giving birth is a common cause of hair loss in women, just like undergoing a major surgery, illness, stress or traumatic event in life. In all these cases, hair loss actually occurs 4 – 6 months after the event, and the sufferer is unable to relate the old incident as a cause of hair loss, thinking that it happened too early to cause hair loss now, which is completely wrong. Hair loss follows this delayed pattern due to its slow growth cycle and men and women experience hair fall several months after the actual event.

Women experiencing hair loss after giving birth to a baby can treat the condition by taking Vitamin B12 shots and over the counter supplements including Biotin. Normally, 2.5mg of Biotin is required daily. Women should also continue taking prenatal vitamins along with lactating vitamins after giving birth and should maintain a healthy diet. If the hair loss problem is left untreated, it can last up to 18 months after child birth, which is a significantly long time period. After that, hair will come back to normal and hair loss will stop. The normal growth pattern of hair starts again and women only experience a few dozen hair falling each day instead of a few hundred.

Eating a healthy diet with lots of protein and taking all the essential supplements can help minimize this time period of Telogen Effluvium. However, if other factors like stress, anxiety and neglect in taking care of hair continue with the hair loss problem, it can lead to further hair loss and hair thinning in women. Getting your thyroid levels checked post-partum is also helpful as women experience fluctuating thyroid levels after birth. Drinking lots of fluid and taking enough sleep can also help reduce hair loss and thinning. Some women get a good hair cut which is more manageable and requires less care, so their hair looks short and healthy instead of long and thin. It is important to take the right steps at the right time to reduce hair fall after child birth. If hair loss continues after 12 to 18 months, professional help should be taken from a health care consultant.

2 thoughts on “Can breastfeeding cause hair loss?

  1. Dheen Reply

    Your post very interesting. I am looking for this for such a long time. I will be back for other useful info. Keep writing. Thanks’

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