Woman tying her hair

Dealing with Postpartum Hair Loss

I’ll never forget the moment after my daughter was born…

She was finally fed and content in her dad’s arms, so I snuck away for a shower…

And as I massaged my shampoo, enjoying a moment of peace…

I pulled my hands away to find a hamster-sized clump of hair in my hands!

Any postpartum mama knows what I’m talking about. Postpartum hair loss is no joke!

I knew that hair loss was a normal part of the postpartum period, but even with my super-thick and curly hair, the loss was really noticeable. 

And at a time when women are often already feeling more fragile and vulnerable than usual, the sudden hair loss can be like adding insult to injury. 

But is there anything we can do about it?

Let’s talk about it today. 

What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?

During pregnancy, estrogen levels are high. This prolongs the hair growth phase, leading to less normal hair loss and longer, thicker feeling hair.

But after pregnancy, estrogen levels drop really dramatically  - from 5--100x the normal level during pregnancy to less than normal in breastfeeding. With estrogen suddenly so low, control of the hair follicles goes to testosterone, and specifically, a derivative of testosterone called DHT. With DHT in control, the hair growth phase shortens, and the result is significant hair loss.

In addition, the hormone prolactin plays a role as well. Prolactin is the hormone that rises to induce lactation after birth. But, prolactin also further suppresses estrogen and increases the expression of testosterone and DHT. More DHT expression may result in more hair loss.

And if you already have experienced androgen-driven hair loss, like that caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), you may be even MORE sensitive to this shift after pregnancy. 

I think of the postpartum period as a mini version of what can happen during menopause - that’s how big the hormonal shifts are. Women can become androgen-dominant in the postpartum period, causing hair loss and symptoms like vaginal dryness, low libido, and even vaginal atrophy—all of which can make sex less pleasurable or even downright painful. (If you’re wondering just how long your sex drive will be MIA for, it’s totally normal and common for it to be gone until you stop breastfeeding!)

Lactation-Safe Postpartum Hair Loss Solutions

First, remember that postpartum hair loss is 100% normal. And I pinky-promise, it is way more noticeable to you than to anyone else. I say this having gone through it recently myself!

But if trying to disguise it using ponytails isn’t enough, there are some evidence-based things you can try. 

There are plenty of herbs that can help block DHT, and many of them can be safely used during lactation, without impacting milk supply. 

However, not all DHT blocking herbs can be safely used during lactation: one to avoid until you’ve weaned your baby is saw palmetto. Saw palmetto is reported to block the response of prostate cells to prolactin, which are likely also upregulated by high prolactin in breastfeeding. It can work well for any remaining hair loss concerns after breastfeeding, but skip it until you’re done breastfeeding. 

Now, let’s talk about the herbs that are safe in lactation!

  • Stinging nettle
  • Gingko
  • 1-3 cups of green tea daily

In addition to these, there are a few more that deserve special mention.

#1 Fenugreek

In addition to blocking DHT, fenugreek also supports milk supply in some women. It may be especially helpful if you also experience any insulin resistance, such as that in PCOS. Those with PCOS often have high DHT and greater hair loss.

#2 Nigella Sativa (Black Seed)

This herb has been taken for centuries as a therapeutic medicine and for maintaining health, and animal studies show it also has the potential to block DHT. For mothers who are breastfeeding, black seed has been known to boost the breast refill rate. I especially recommend this to moms who have a low breastmilk supply issue due to insulin resistance

#3 Reishi Mushroom

In a research study exploring the anti-androgenic effects of 20 species of mushrooms, reishi mushrooms had the strongest action in inhibiting testosterone. That same study found that reishi mushrooms significantly reduced levels of 5-alpha reductase, preventing conversion of testosterone into the more potent DHT. In addition, reishi has an extremely low toxicity profile and is a good adaptogen and immune support in new moms. This is another go-to for my PCOS patients. 

Bioidentical Progesterone for Postpartum Hair Loss 

Another treatment option during lactation is adding cyclical bioidentical progesterone. Biodientical progesterone helps because progesterone reduces 5-alpha reductase activity, which converts testosterone to its active metabolite dihydrotestosterone (DHT). 

And if you’re wondering, is that safe? It is indeed. Think about it this way: many women get pregnant with their second (or third….or…. fourth) while still breastfeeding an infant. When we are pregnant, progesterone skyrockets, going up by a factor of ten. This shift - which is known to be safe - is much, much more dramatic than the increase in progesterone from adding cyclical bioidentical progesterone therapeutically. Some progesterone will pass into breast milk, but, again, it’s much lower than what would pass through milk if a woman were pregnant. 

And, cyclical bioidentical progesterone is an FDA-approved treatment for postpartum depression. That’s why I often use it with breastfeeding moms, even when hair loss is not a top concern. It can help normalize the menstrual cycle after baby, improving mood and PMS-symptoms. 

Nutrient Support for Postpartum Hair Loss

But before herbs or cyclical bioidentical progesterone, I like to start all women with simple nutrient support. 

First up, make sure you’re still taking a great prenatal vitamin. Nutrient needs while breastfeeding are even higher than when pregnant. This Is Needed and Designs For Health are my two favorites. 

Next, I recommend getting iron and vitamin D levels checked with a quick blood test. Low levels of vitamin D drive hair loss, and supplementing is so easy if needed. Optimal vitamin D levels are between 50 and 80 ng/mL.

Low iron is also really common postpartum, and low iron is associated with increased rate of hair shedding. Blood loss = iron loss, and childbirth often involves a significant amount of blood loss. Anemia is also very common in pregnancy, and not everyone has iron stores that just bounce back. If a serum ferritin level shows your iron levels are low (anything below 30, but optimal is above 50 and within range), supplement with a high-quality supplement. This is my recommended iron supplement. 

Finally, don’t forget minerals! Your body will prioritize providing minerals in your breastmilk over meeting your own body’s needs. That means baby might be stealing all our minerals, through no fault of their own!

#1 Zinc is essential for supporting hair and skin health, plus zinc acts as a DHT blocker by reducing 5-Alpha-reductase. Zinc levels can easily get low in pregnancy and postpartum. If you’re going to supplement with more than what is included in your prenatal, I recommend testing along with copper. If taking zinc, you’ll also need to take copper to keep the two from becoming imbalanced. Serum Zinc should be 64-126, and copper should be 81-157, and the ratio between zinc/copper should be between .85-1.2. I use this product the most, in clinic. 

#2 Magnesium is something every nursing or postpartum mama should be on. I suggest 300 mg per day minimum, but some women need more. This one is great!

#3 Copper and Selenium are also important, but should be part of any postpartum vitamin worth it’s merit. Check your prenatal and be sure these are included. 

Hang In There, Mama!

Becoming a new mom is tough for so many reasons. I hope this information can help ease that transition a bit.

And if you’re looking for more natural but no-nonsense, judgement-free support from another woman who has been there - look no further! Whether you’re looking for support with hormone issues, fertility, or postpartum life, myself and my team of clinicians would be honored to help.

>>> Click here to book a no-obligation free consult at a time that works for you

  • Brie

PS - Struggling with wild hormones, the baby blues, milk supply, or anything else postpartum? Yes, hormone shifts are a normal part of the postpartum period… but NO they do not have to make you miserable. Let me help. 

Mother and baby

A Functional Medicine Practitioner-Designed Postpartum Recovery Plan (For Mom & Baby)

It’s hard to believe my baby girl is coming up on 5 months old already!

All the mamas out there know… the postpartum period is a whirlwind!

Not only are you adjusting to taking care of baby, but your body is undergoing massive changes (just as big as during pregnancy!)

And you’re sleeping less, nursing (literally nourishing an entire other human with YOUR body!), and might even be going back to work around the 3-month mark if you’re in the U.S.

It’s a lot! That’s why I think your postpartum recovery plan is just as important as what you do before and during pregnancy (if not more important!) 

Today I want to share my go-to supplements that I’ve used in my own postpartum recovery and first months of motherhood - I hope they help you as much as they have helped me over the past few months.

What I’m Taking For Postpartum Recovery & Surviving New Motherhood

Here’s a quick rundown of my daily supplement routine since giving birth. (Remember that this is what was appropriate for me, and may not be exactly right for you! Book a free consult with my team to learn more about customizing supplement plans for you). 

#1 A good prenatal multivitamin

There’s nothing that depletes your body of nutrients quite like growing another human and then nursing them! You need the extra nutrients in a good prenatal just as much after birth as you do before.

I like Designs For Health Prenatal Pro because it contains chromium and other important micronutrients. Because I have a family history and personal tendency toward diabetes (and dealt with gestational diabetes), I specifically chose a prenatal that contains chromium. Research suggests that chromium can help lower fasting blood sugar and insulin levels.

#2 Magnesium

Magnesium  - for everything! Magnesium has so many benefits…. But it’s especially good for mitochondrial energy, maintaining your calm, supporting healthy sleep, hormone support, and insulin signaling. I use Magnesium Buffered Chelate Glycinate by Designs for Health.

#3 Mushroom blend 

I use a mushroom blend with reishi, cordyceps, and lions mane called Host Defense Stamets 7.

Mushrooms have so many benefits! Lion's mane helps with brain health, stress and anxiety, and diabetes prevention and management. 

Cordyceps can help protect mitochondria and therefore have anti-aging benefits. And with how little sleep I’m getting, I definitely feel like I need the help! Contact me to learn more about mushrooms and breastfeeding.

#4 Adaptogens

Adaptogenic herbs (like goji berry, maca root, ginseng, and more) support adrenal health and mitochondrial function. With all the stress of a new baby and the limited sleep, adaptogens can be really useful. I use “The One” from Quicksilver Scientific.

#5 Flax seed meal

I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and as a result my hormones need extra support to stay in balance. I personally tend toward estrogen dominance (not all women with PCOS do - so be sure to get your hormone levels tested with a practitioner!)

Flax seed meal has a “bad reputation” as an estrogenic food but the truth is that flax seed meal can help with estrogen detox, keeping the body’s hormone levels in better balance if you’re estrogen dominant like I am. I eat a couple tablespoons of ground flax daily. 

#6 Probiotic & prebiotic

I rotate through 3 probiotics to keep my gut healthy: FloraMyces, Klaire Therbiotic, and MegaSporeBiotic.

I’m also taking a daily prebiotic. Prebiotics are indigestible fibers that act as food for the bacteria in the gut. I use MegaPreBiotic.

The probiotic and prebiotic are for my health - but also for baby girls’! Right now, my daughter’s microbiome is still “under construction”and is strongly influenced by who she has contact with - namely her dad and I. Moms transfer bacteria to baby through kissing, cuddling, and (most importantly) breastfeeding. That’s why gut health is even more of a priority right now than usual.

#7 Natural toothpaste & mouth rinse

Your oral microbiome seeds your gut microbiome, and with as much as my daughter open mouth kisses me and all the germs we pass back and forth, I’m doing everything I can to support a healthy microbiome body-wide. Research has shown that baby’s oral microbiome continues to develop up to 1 year.

I use PerioBiotic toothpaste from Designs for Health and Dentalicidin Mouth Rinse from BioBotanical Research.

Why I’m Passionate About Breastfeeding

I’m also taking supplements that have made breastfeeding easier and confer benefits to baby through breastmilk. I promise I’ll share all those with you - but first I want to cover why I’m so passionate about breastfeeding.

My intention is to breastfeed my daughter past one year - what’s called extended breastfeeding. That’s because there are so many benefits to breastfeeding:

  • Breastfeeding prevents autoimmunity - research has shown being breastfed is associated with a lower incidence of diabetes, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis and asthma
  • Breastfeeding builds a stronger immune system and may even help prevent development of disease later in life
  • Breastfeeding boosts the brain - this study showed it improved cognitive development and this one showed those breastfed for 6+ months had better test results in school

And with my history of gestational diabetes and tendency toward high blood sugar, it was important to me that breastfeeding decreases the risk of diabetes in mom AND baby and especially helps prevent Type 2 diabetes for moms who had gestational diabetes. 

That doesn’t cover even a fraction of all the health benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby… not to mention the emotional and mental benefits.

While I understand that breastfeeding isn’t possible for all new moms, I highly recommend it… and if you’re struggling with low supply, keep reading for some of the solutions that made breastfeeding work for me.

Breastmilk Boosters

I struggled with low supply from day 1 (largely as a result of hormone disruption caused by my PCOS) - but luckily I found a few solutions that helped get my supply up to normal. If you’re a fellow PCOS sister, I hope you’ll consider these ideas. 

#1 Myo-Inositol 

Myo-inositol is a natural substance, found in plants and animals, which helps to regulate insulin in a similar way to metformin and may be useful for mothers with PCOS who are dealing with low supply.

It’s a major ingredient in breast milk and taking it supplementally can help boost breast milk production and increase baby’s brain health.

#2 Metformin

Metformin is a prescription drug that can help lower blood sugar to boost supply. It doesn’t work for all women - but if it helps you, it’s a powerful tool that’s safe for baby. Metformin is considered low-risk for baby. 

The dosage starts at 500 mg, but talk to your doctor (you’ll need a prescription) to find what’s right for you. 

For anyone nervous about using metformin: you should know this what what finally increased my supply to nearly normal levels!

I also take therapeutic levels of Fenugreek, Goat’s Rue, Moringa, and Shatavari-- all proven to improve milk production and flow safely. While different women will have different degrees of response to these herbs, they are generally safe to try. It can take up to 2 full weeks to notice a shift in supply or flow. 

What I’m Taking For Baby’s Benefit 

Nursing mamas aren’t just a milk machine... But everything you take in is transferred to your breast milk. And when that milk is baby’s only source of nutrition for 6 months, you want it to be as good as possible!

A healthy and diverse diet with more-than-enough calories is step one to make the best milk, but I also am using these supplements for “milk enhancement.”

#1 Lugol’s iodine

Pregnancy requires higher levels of iodine, and research has shown women who are iodine deficient in pregnancy and postpartum are more likely to have children with neurological and psychological deficits like attention deficit disorders and lower IQ.

Since I don’t eat iodized salt or iodine-rich foods regularly, I use 2 drops of 2% Lugol’s iodine solution daily.

#2 Calcium

Here’s a wild breastfeeding fact: if you’re not taking in sufficient dietary calcium while breastfeeding, your body will leech calcium from your bones to supply calcium in your breastmilk!

I don’t want to feed my baby my own bones - so I supplement with calcium to make sure I have adequate supply for both of us. 

#3 DHA 

The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is one of the most important nutrients for a healthy baby. It’s critical for healthy brain development plus vision and memory.

Lots of research has shown that supplementing with DHA can increase DHA levels in breastmilk and lead to better health outcomes for baby, so I use Nordic Natural Prenatal DHA.

#4 Coconut oil

Coconut oil is one of my favorite sources of healthy fat - and eating it regularly can increase lauric and caprylic acid content in breastmilk. Lauric and caprylic acid are powerful antimicrobials that can help strengthen your baby’s immune system and keep them healthy.

Studies have shown eating 3 tablespoons at a meal can significantly increase levels, so I aim for 3 tablespoons in my daily smoothie.

#5 Liver and organ powder

Liver and other organ meats are on the best sources of important nutrients like choline… but most of us are deficient! Choline is particularly important for healthy brain and memory development, so it’s important for breastfeeding moms to get enough.

I use a powdered form of organ meats made by Ancestral Supplements and try to eat 2 pasture-raised eggs (the yolks are a great source of choline!). Use code BRIEW10 at checkout for a 10% discount!

What To Give Baby 

Right now, all baby girl gets is milk, milk, and more milk!

That’s all infants less than 6 months of age need - it’s the perfect food. 

The only supplement I give to her is  Klaire Therbiotic Infant 4 times a week to support her healthy microbiome development. I give this to her either on my nipple by dampening the skin with a little milk and then dabbing the powder on there, or, by mixing it in a bottle of milk, when she takes a bottle. 

She’s getting her Vitamin D through my milk; you must take 5000 IU or more daily to accomplish this--test first to make sure that dose is safe for you. 

That’s it!

Your Postpartum Recovery Strategy

As a hormone specialist, I’ve always loved working with moms in the postpartum period - but as a mom myself now, I have a profound respect for all my mom clients!

If you’re pregnant now, hope to be soon, or are in the postpartum period now, I’d love to support you in finding your own postpartum recovery strategy, tailored to your unique needs.

Book a free 15 minute consult with my team by clicking here. During the consult, we’ll talk about your experiences and needs and start on a strategy for long-term wellness, together. 

To your health,


P.S. Are you interested in hearing more about my motherhood journey? Be sure to check out my Instagram where I share candid pics and commentary!