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Breast changes or hair loss

Breast changes

Your breasts will get bigger and more firm after the birth. They will produce the first milk called colostrum. It is yellow in colour. Your milk then changes to a more milky (white) colour.

There will be a bigger volume of milk about 3 days after the birth of your baby.

Hair loss

Your hair may seem thicker and fuller during pregnancy. It is common for hair to thin out after your baby's birth. You may notice that you have a temporary loss of hair from your head.

Hair loss after giving birth is called telogen effluvium.

This reportedly affects 4 out of 10 women who have given birth in the previous 3 months. Anecdotally the figures are even higher with most women noticing some degree of hair loss.

Symptoms of telogen effluvium

You may notice more hair:

  • coming out when you brush your hair
  • plugging the shower
  • on your pillow or around your home

Usually your hair becomes thinner all over your scalp. Occasionally you may have patches where the hair loss is more noticeable.

Causes of telogen effluvium

The rapid change in hormone levels after the birth is a 'shock' to your system. This causes your hair to move from the growth phase to the shedding phase (telogen).

Telogen effluvium treatment

No treatment is needed. Telogen effluvium usually resolves completely after 3 to 6 months. This is the normal length of the shedding phase before the growth phase begins again.

Occasionally your GP may suggest doing blood tests to check your iron and thyroid levels.

If you smoke, stopping smoking will help. Chemicals in cigarette smoke can worsen the appearance of your hair.

Eat a healthy and varied diet. Foods that contain iron and protein, fresh fruit and vegetables can help. Consider taking a vitamin supplement designed for breastfeeding or postnatal women.

Page last reviewed: 20 November 2018
Next review due: 20 November 2021