POSTPARTUM HAIR LOSS

I love babies, but holy mother of god do they wreak havoc on our bodies. 

Not only do woman in general have to deal with weight gain, stretch marks, pregnancy discomforts, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, the agony of initial days of breast feeding, the endless sleepless nights, and a bladder that will probably never be the same again…. just when you start to feel more like yourself, you start to lose your damn hair! If you have not been affected by this phenomenon, well, god blessed your beautiful little full head of hair and count yourself lucky!  If you have been affected by it, well, if ya know, ya know! If you are a Mum to be, I hope that it doesn’t affect you badly, but prepare yourself for the possibility, and if it hits don’t panic! Just know that it is normal, common, and it will stop eventually!

I unfortunately suffered from this quite badly with my first pregnancy, particularly badly with my second given that it was so close to my first and my hair hadn’t really had a chance to grow back in properly, and I am currently in the grip of it from my third and final pregnancy.

Postpartum hair loss is a real thing. It can be really alarming when it happens, and can also range from mild to severe. I remember with my first pregnancy, I was elated to have the side effect of my hair growing long and it was thicker then normal (I have pretty fine hair normally) so to have more hair to play with was amazing. Post that pregnancy it was lovely and thick for a few months and then just after 3 months it started to fall out. I first noticed it on my hairbrush, and then when I was washing it in the shower it felt as if it was coming out in clumps! My clothes were constantly covered in long strands of hair and my baby’s hands always had strands in between their sweet little fingers, and my vacuum cleaner was full of it!  I was distraught when it was happening and quite shocked as it was something that I had never heard of and was not expecting to happen at all. I truly thought that I was going to go bald, and I even ended up at my Doctors requesting for bloods to check my thyroid. Then after a lot of time spent on Dr Google and speaking to other Mums around me, I realised that I wasn’t alone and it was extremely common.

There is a science to it and it even has a medical diagnosis – post-partum telogen effluvian. When a woman is pregnant, the hormonal changes stimulate an increase in percentage of the amount of hair that is growing (or in the anagen phase), so that is why so many women have thick beautiful luscious locks in pregnancy – more hair is growing then those that are falling out. I noticed this for sure, as I had hardly any hair (if any at all) come out in my hairbrush or while washing throughout my pregnancies. Then you go forward and give birth to your baby, and once again those hormones that accompany birth change and a larger number of hairs then normal enter the resting phase. Around three months postpartum (on average), the hormone changes trigger the hair to start shedding. Since there has been almost no hair loss for the whole of your pregnancy (practically 10 months) and then usually around three months postpartum, you have over a years worth of hair to fall out of your head!! Nightmare. 

I unfortunately don’t think that there is a ‘cure’ to stop it from falling out (well I haven’t found one anyway and if you have, please share the love)!  You just have to grin and bare it and basically try and promote healthy hair regrowth so that your hair will come back in all its former glory. My hair loss typically starts pretty much bang on 3 months after childbirth, is particularly bad for around 2 months then settles a little after that, by 7 months postpartum I had heaps of little spikes of new hair sticking up all over my head, and by my babies first birthdays things were back to normal although with an uneven hairline of shorter hair regrowing!

Baby hairs returning and giving a lovely little fuzzy hairline for a few months
8 months postpartum and my wedding photos showed my baby hairs growing back in
My current situation 🙁

Some tips I have to help try and get you through the phase of shedding:

  • Brush your hair before you wash it, hair is more fragile when wet. Try to also let it air dry and brush when dry after washing. 
  • Use as little heat as possible on it.
  • Brush from the ends to the roots. 
  • I have tried a product called Activance, it didn’t stop it from falling out but my hair did eventually start to grow back in nicely. I can only assume that this helped. 
  • Try and eat healthy and drink lots of water – it can only help!
  • I take a vitamin by Ethical Nutrients Healthy Hair, Skin and Nails along with my LifeMum Post Pregnancy multivitamin.
  • I am also taking a collagen supplement called Adashiko to see if it will help my hair grow back quicker and hopefully thicker, I have been taking it for the past month so time will tell if it helps.
  • High dose zinc can apparently help and a B-vitamin called biotin – I have never personally tried this but would be willing to try anything – and of course, if breastfeeding check with your Doctor before taking any sort of vitamin or supplement.
  • Depending on where your hair loss is most noticeable you may need to change your hairstyle until it grows back in, change your part, or where it falls on the side. 
  • A shorter haircut might make it less noticeable, and will definitely mean less long hairs lying around the house, on your clothes and baby and every where you settle your pretty little head!
  • If you colour your hair, get it done before 3 months postpartum and then you can leave it for a couple of months while the hair fall is particularly bad. Some highlights through your hair will add a little depth to it which makes hair look thicker (in the chaos that has been my postpartum period with three little ones I completely forgot about my hair, so unfortunately my regrowth will be sticking around until my hair fall slows down – I’m too scared to get it done as I feel like it will all come out in the foils)! 
  • I haven’t used these little hacks but you could use clip in hair extensions to add some body (although I did use a couple of these on my wedding day) and coloured hair spray for the particularly bad spots. 
  • Keep a lint roller handy everywhere so you can roll away all those hairs.
  • Brush your hair a little and often. I find the longer I leave it between brushings the more comes out. If I give it a light brush regularly throughout the day less comes out – or it’s less noticeable anyway so less distressing!
  • It’s easier said then done, but try not to stress – stress can add to hair loss, and just try to remember that it is a temporary condition and your hair will grow back over time. At the end of the day, no one will probably notice it as much as you do, and your baby certainly doesn’t give two shits about the amount of hair that is on your head!

I wish I could be writing this blog with a magical solution for all Mums out there going through this hellish side effect of housing a human for 9 months, however I don’t. All I can offer is my experience to let you know you are not alone! It is absolutely awful when it is happening. It can be quite scary. You are just coming out of the newborn haze and feeling like you are getting on top of things and then your hair starts coming out in clumps. It can often happen at a time when your hormone levels drop which can leave you feeling pretty flat anyway, and then to start feeling self-conscious about your appearance, it all adds up to not the best of times. I became really upset and self conscious with it and stressed that I was going to be bald (stress doesn’t help, and you certainly won’t go bald)! I felt as if I had been shaved all around my hairline!  So this time around, going through exactly the same thing for the third time, it is still upsetting me and worrying me, I know that I won’t go bald but it’s still hard not to think that I will, and I am trying my hardest to not let it get on top of me, to be positive and know that it will end, there is nothing I can do about it and worrying won’t stop it, and like all the tough shit we Mums have to face with life with a new baby – this too shall pass!  

While I was writing this blog I went back through some old photos of the time when I would have been experiencing the hair loss to try and get some photos for this post, and I couldn’t find hardly any photos of myself – it made me a bit sad. I didn’t feel great about my appearance at all, so I never wanted my photos taken. Some of the photos I did find the hair loss isn’t even as bad as I had imagined in my head – however I think we are always our own worst enemy when it comes to our appearance. This time around, I am just going to embrace the suck that is hair loss, and move the F on with life!

I’ve heard an old wives tale before that girls steal their mothers beauty during pregnancy and boys make them glow… I’m hoping maybe this is true for hair loss as well. Both my girls have beautiful long hair, while I am over here slowly balding away. Maybe it was particularly bad with my girls and won’t be as bad with my boy!! One can only hope. 

Your hair will grow back, and it is like a little badge of new mumness.  You will have this fuzzy little new hairline growing back in a number of months, and other Mums that have had the same thing happen to them will give you a little nod in acknowledgement!  Remind yourself that losing your hair is a side effect of having your beautiful little baby, and there could be way worse things to go through then losing and eventually regrowing your hair. Hang in there, your hair will be back just in time for your body to trick you in to wanting another baby again and you can go through it all over again!! 

xox

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Auckland, NZ