Ashley Graham was shocked to experience a common but potentially jarring side effect several months after giving birth to her son, as she recently told Parents. That side effect was postpartum hair loss.
“I think it was like around four months, my whole hairline fell out,” said Graham, who gave birth to her son Isaac in January 2020. “And that was more traumatic than even birth because I was like, ‘My hair’s falling out in clumps—what am I doing?’” Fortunately, Graham quickly figured out that, like many postpartum body changes, her hair issues were actually totally normal. “I realized it’s actually a thing,” she explained.
Postpartum hair loss is usually a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium. Technically, this type of hair loss is a temporary excessive shedding of hair as opposed to true, permanent hair loss. During the postpartum period, telogen effluvium is a natural result of how hormone fluctuations during and after pregnancy affect the normal growth cycles of your hair.
Your hair grows in cycles, with most of the hairs on your head growing and some just resting at any given time. When the hairs that are resting fall out, that allows new hairs to grow in. With telogen effluvium, your hairs enter the resting phase earlier in the cycle than usual, which then causes them to fall out more quickly.
Telogen effluvium can be triggered by major stress, vitamin deficiencies, and the inevitable decrease in estrogen that occurs after delivery, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) explains. It can, indeed, look and feel like you’re losing a good chunk of your hair. This hair shedding can start anywhere between one and five months after delivery, with the peak of hair shedding happening about three to four months after giving birth (just as Graham experienced).
Because postpartum telogen effluvium is generally temporary, experts don’t usually recommend specific treatments. But many people find using that volumizing shampoos and avoiding heavy conditioners can help with postpartum hair shedding while they wait for their hair to readjust. If your hair hasn’t regained its full volume within a year, though, it’s worth talking to a doctor to see if other conditions could be to blame, the AAD says.
Graham also told Parents just how important it is for her to share aspects of her pregnancy and postpartum life on social media. “I like to share every aspect of my life. I don’t want to hide how I’m taking care of my body, whether it’s mental health, stretching, movement,” she said. “I just have found it incredibly important for everybody to talk about their journey and what they’ve been doing because it helps people who are struggling.”