Author and celebrity mum Giovanna Fletcher shines light on post-pregnancy hair loss

Celebrities are famous for always looking their best, often using social media sites to highlight their ‘perfect’ looks. However, author Giovanna Fletcher has recently hit the headlines for venturing away from the norm and highlighting a very real, frustrating and devastating condition many new mothers go through.

The new mum took to Instagram to share her ‘tufty’ regrowth after suffering post-pregnancy hair loss. The author soon received over 14,000 likes on the picture and praise for bringing to light a very real part of motherhood that very few people talk about – postpartum alopecia.

What is postpartum alopecia?

Postpartum alopecia affects up to 50% of women and it can last up to 5 months. It is more of a gradual hair loss and, while some women do experience completely bald patches, for most it results in more of an overall thinning.

When you consider the hormonal changes your body goes through when you’re pregnant and after you give birth, it’s unsurprising that hair loss or thinning can occur. During pregnancy, the higher levels of oestrogen stop the hair growth cycle in its tracks. The hair, therefore, doesn’t fall out as frequently as it usually would and more hair is pushed into the growth phase.

This rise in oestrogen levels also reduces the levels of androgens or male hormones. Typically, this means less sebum is produced in the hair follicles which is another reason women may feel that their hair seems to be thicker.

Once you give birth, though, the hormone levels once again fluctuate, only this time they drop significantly. This in turn kick-starts the normal hair growth cycle and the hair begins to shed. The trouble is, it starts to shed at a much faster pace than normal, which is why many women start to notice the hair becoming visibly thinner and patchier.

Is postpartum hair loss treatable?

The main thing to keep in mind with postpartum alopecia is that it is generally a temporary condition. Whilst the hair will begin to shed at two to five months after giving birth, it won’t shed forever. However, this doesn’t make it any easier to deal with once you start seeing your thick, healthy pregnancy hair falling out.

Despite the fact that postpartum alopecia is a very common condition, there currently isn’t a lot of evidence to suggest a viable treatment option. There are a lot of recommended treatments out there but, none have been studied well enough to prove their effectiveness.

So how can you deal with postpartum hair loss? On average, it can take up to one year after giving birth, for the hair to grow back completely, but having a baby can be highly stressful and put a strain on the body. For some women, these factors can result in postpartum hair loss becoming a more longstanding condition that requires intervention.

There are some topical treatments available which can speed up the hair regrowth process. Minoxidil for example, is one of the most common and easily available over the counter at strengths of 2%. However, be aware that this type of treatment should only be started once you have finished nursing.

Overall, postpartum alopecia is temporary and treatment largely involves waiting it out. However, if you do not see an improvement after your baby reaches their first birthday, it is advised you seek help from a hair specialist.

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“I just want to say thank you to Dr David Fenton (and his team!) for the exceptional care and kindness shown to my son over the last 18 months. His support also to an anxious mother has been tremendous”

JT, London