Hair Loss During Pregnancy Can Happen

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    Kristin Hall, FNP
    Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP Written by Our Editorial Team Last updated 9/03/2020

    Congratulations! The next nine months are going to be hard, but the experience of a lifetime. Just about when you’re ready to throw in the towel, you’ll become a parent and all of the bad parts of pregnancy (yes, plural) will be forgotten. 

    Like the nausea and constant peeing, hair loss may be among your top concerns. After all, you already know you’re going to gain weight, can’t you at least keep your mane? 

    Well, there’s good news — hair loss during pregnancy is pretty rare. (Postpartum hair loss is another story). But we have what you need to know about what could cause it and some tips for getting treatment should you experience hair loss while pregnant. 

    TL;DR: What You Need to Know 

    • Hair loss in pregnancy is generally no more common than hair loss at other times in your life (excluding the months following delivery). 
    • Women that experience hair loss while they’re pregnant may have experienced it anyways — whether due to genetics, major illness or any other number of causes. 
    • Most women experience fuller hair during pregnancy, due to a pause in hair shedding.
    • Hair loss after delivery is not uncommon, as shedding increases to make up for the dormant period during pregnancy.
    • The proper treatment for hair loss depends on the exact cause. 
    • If you’re concerned that your hair loss may be a sign of something more serious, contact your healthcare provider.

    How Common Is It? 

    Hair loss during pregnancy is not common. Well, no more common than hair loss among women, in general. 

    As a matter of fact, it’s more likely that pregnancy will make your hair fuller; not thinner. This is because the growth stage of the lifecycle of hair, known as anagen, is longer in pregnant women, so you shed fewer hairs. 

    However, it’s this disruption in the normal hair cycle that can lead to hair loss postpartum — more on that later.  

    What Causes Pregnancy Hair Loss? 

    Hair loss during pregnancy is not necessarily related to the pregnancy. That is, there is no biological basis connecting hair loss to pregnancy. But hair loss can happen in pregnancy, and just as it happens when women are not pregnant, it can be tied to numerous causes:

    • Family history 
    • Tight hairstyling
    • Major surgery or illness
    • Significant stress
    • Some medications including chemotherapy
    • Auto-immune conditions like alopecia areata 
    • Skin disorders
    • Crash diets or nutritional deficiency
    • Thyroid problems

    Do other women in your family have hair loss? Are you under extreme amounts of stress now that you are pregnant? Is the hair falling out in patches or clumps that could indicate alopecia areata? Or do you have symptoms of another skin condition, such as psoriasis?

    Any one of these things could make it more likely to suffer from hair loss in pregnancy. And each could warrant a unique approach for treatment. 

    What About Hair Loss Postpartum? 

    Postpartum hair loss is generally more common than hair loss in pregnancy. Remember the hair cycle we mentioned earlier — how your hair gets nice and full during pregnancy because the cycle of hair follicles is sort of paused? 

    Well, once you have your baby and the hair comes out of this resting phase, you’ll likely experience more shedding than normal. 

    This is completely normal and affects roughly half of women, according to the American Pregnancy Association

    This increased hair shedding among new moms is known as telogen effluvium and it generally subsides by the time your child turns one.  

    Treatment for Hair Loss in Pregnancy and Beyond 

    If you notice your hair thinning or changing during pregnancy, take stock of the potential causes — hair loss can be caused by serious health problems, but it could also be due to stress and resolve itself with time. 

    Make it a point to discuss your hair loss with your healthcare provider the next time you’re in for a check-up, and if you’re experiencing any severe symptoms that could indicate a bigger problem, don’t hesitate to call them right away. 

    It’s better to be safe than sorry if you think your own or your baby’s health is at risk. 

    For conditions like telogen effluvium, that typically resolve themselves with time, you can take steps to lessen the appearance of your thinning hair. 

    The American Academy of Dermatology suggests using volumizing hair products, avoiding heavy conditioners and trying a new hairstyle. But steer clear of tight buns and ponytails (goodbye to that convenience!) as they can pull and make hair thinning worse.

    Eating a balanced diet of healthy foods can prevent nutritional deficiencies that could lead to hair loss. 

    Managing your stress with good self-care, regular physical activity, and talking with a professional, if needed, can help correct hair loss due to stress

    These healthy habits are more important than ever, now that you’re carrying a child. But they’re also general pieces of good advice for any woman. 

    The Bottom Line

    To say your life changes the moment you become pregnant probably feels like an understatement for a lot of women. 

    While you're pregnant, it can seem like your body isn’t yours — the new passenger dictates when you eat, urinate and how much you need to sleep. 

    It’s not unusual to deal with changes in your appearance, too. 

    While hair loss during pregnancy isn’t as common as postpartum hair loss, it does happen for a variety of reasons. 

    However, as with all hair loss, determining the cause of it can help you figure out the right treatment. 

    This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.