Don't panic: It's completely normal to shed strands after giving birth. Here, experts explain what causes postpartum hair loss, plus the best ways to treat it and boost the appearance of thinning hair.

By Madeleine Burry
August 15, 2018
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Remember your thick, luscious pregnancy hair? A few months after giving birth, all those pregnancy-gifted hairs may fall out. This hair loss can feel precipitous and dramatic—all of a sudden, you might spot fistfuls of hair in your drain, or strands clinging to your fingers after you run your hand through your head.

Blame it on hormones. During pregnancy, estrogen increases, which typically encourages hair growth and improves texture, says Adeeti Gupta, MD, founder of Walk In GYN Care. But in the postpartum period, estrogen levels drop. Plus, you may have vitamin deficiencies lingering from pregnancy, says Dr. Gupta. All these factors—along with the exhaustion that accompanies being a new parent—can lead to hair loss, she explains.

Not all women experience postpartum hair loss, but it is quite common, says Dr. Gupta. Fortunately, this is a totally temporary situation. Typically, it’ll take three to four months for the hair growth phase to cycle through, says Dr. Gupta. And in the meantime, there are plenty of options to help you get through this phase.

Choose the right style

Tiny baby fingers may pull at your hair, making a ponytail tempting, but Samantha Sheppard, lead stylist with Glam+Go, recommends against this and other pulled-back styles, which can emphasize thinning hair and put added stress on strands. Instead, Sheppard suggests a blowout. “[It’s] an easy way to add volume and create the illusion of thicker hair,” she says. Use heat protectant (we like CHI Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray) to prevent additional breakage, Sheppard recommends. No time for a blow out? Try curls or beach waves, says Ashley Valadez, a hairstylist with Supercuts in Nashville, Tennessee. “These styles create the illusion of volume.”

Use accessories to your benefit

Try headbands or scarves wrapped around the hairline to disguise thinning hair or baby hairs at the temples, recommends Valadez. “These are easy, on-the-go hairstyles for busy new moms,” she says.

Consider a haircut

It may sound counterintuitive, says Sheppard, but a short 'do can disguise thinning hair. If you’re ready for a change, try a bob, lob, or pixie cut, she recommends—with shorter hair, you’ll naturally have more volume because you’ll have removed the weight.

Be strategic with layers

When it comes to layers, tread carefully. Add too many, and you’ll remove bulk and weight from your hair, which is the last thing you want if your hair is thinner than usual, points out Valadez. Instead, says Sheppard, ask your stylist to create layers around your face, but leave the back fuller.

Switch up your product routine

If your postpartum hair is very different from your pregnancy hair—or your pre-pregnancy strands—it only makes sense to try different products. Look for options that include the words volumizing or thickening in their name or description, advises celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons.

He recommends Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Elixir ($14; amazon.com), a leave-in treatment that strengthens and reinforces hair. “It’s loaded with keratin, biotin, and zinc—which are all great hair-strengthening ingredients,” says Fitzsimons.

You might also want to try Caviar Anti-Aging Multiplying Volume Styling Mousse ($30; dermstore.com). Yes, mousse—but a modern, crunch-free version. “This formula is designed to heal your hair while you style," Fitzsimons says. "It has ingredients like biotin, algae extract, and caviar extract to nourish your hair all while providing a volumizing lift."

A new shampoo is also a good idea. Valadez recommends Nioxin Cleanser ($23; amazon.com) or Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Scalp Care Anti-Thinning Shampoo ($39; ulta.com). Both options are dedicated to improving scalp health, which is important when it comes to regrowing hair, notes Valadez. Another great shampoo option: TOKYO Perfect Volume Shampoo ($13; amazon.com). Fitzsimmons describes this shampoo as nourishing and full of ingredients designed to strengthen your hair and improve scalp health.

RELATED: 9 Ways To Help Thicken Up Your Fine (or Thinning) Hair

Eat right

What you eat can help control hair loss, says Dr. Gupta. Aim to get lots of protein, vitamin-rich foods, green leafy vegetables, and eggs and dairy. She also recommends taking vitamin D, B-complex vitamins, and omega-3 to help reduce postpartum hair loss.