The truth is, it’s a thing! Does it happen to everyone? No. Can it happen to you? Certainly.
Never heard about postpartum hair loss? That’s a thing too. It’s medically called Telogen Effluvium and I talk to women all the time who have not yet learned about this lovely, hormone-related time during the months after having a baby. If you never experience postpartum hair loss, high fives and hugs to you – you have dodged a wee bullet. If you are going through it, or would simply like to know what it’s about in case you or someone you know does, read on!
I have actually held off on this post as I was waiting for my hair loss to subside. BUT, seven months PP and it’s still going on, sooooo here we are. There’s value in telling you it may continue for several months.
I have three children and have had hair loss with all three. This most recent time has been the most dramatic, and I have noticed it the most – i.e. visually noticed it in the way I look, and visibly noticed it in the sheer amount of hair everywhere (floor, pillow, hands, sink, baby’s hands, clothing, food, you name it!). It is also the most emotionally impacted I have been. It has really made me feel more self conscious, less confident and more exposed/vulnerable! Interesting, right? It’s just hair! But, as it turns out, hair and its association to how we feel about ourselves and how we feel we are perceived is also a thing! Hair is tied to lots of emotions for many.
In my experience, it was around four months postpartum (a common time line) with my most recent baby that I noticed the shift. It was literally like I woke up one day to large amounts of my hair falling out. Like, lots of it. If I ran my hand through my hair, there would be a handful of hair to show for it. All our shower drains became clogged (I would literally lose clumps of it in the shower and could only catch so much!). There was suddenly hair everywhere. Even my kids would ask where all the hair was coming from! The vacuum could barely keep up and I began to see my hair thinning in the mirror. Here’s the kicker – this is considered NORMAL! Now, I should mention here, that I DO have a thyroid condition and hair loss is a symptom that things are not managed as well as they could be. However, my TSH levels came back in good range and my doctor assured me that it was just the common, temporary postpartum hair loss and I should just ride it out. The buzz word here, guys, is COMMON. Now, there are lots of things you can read about that may help with postpartum hair loss; this post is not about those things. I simply want to explain what it is (we are getting to that), share my experience to help normalize this thing no one ever tells us about, AND let you know it is indeed temporary and you are beautiful at this very moment – whether there are handfuls of hair in your hands (as opposed to on your head) or not!
WHAT IT IS
Postpartum hair loss is hormone-related. Ever notice that when you’re pregnant your hair is thick, voluminous and grows very fast? Hormones! Specifically, estrogen. Our hair typically has a growth cycle. It starts with a growth phase, moves into a resting phase, and eventually goes through a shedding phase before the cycle starts all over again. During pregnancy, as estrogen increases, more follicles to enter the growth phase than the resting phase and thus, more hair. VOILA!
Following childbirth, estrogen levels drop (eventually returning to their pre-pregnancy levels), prompting the hair follicles to enter the resting phase and fewer hairs to grow. After about 100 days in the resting phase, the hair begins to… you guessed it – fall out! The timeline here can also be impacted by whether or not you are exclusively breastfeeding, supplementing etc yep, hormones are responsive to these things!
In addition to estrogen (and progesterone) changes postpartum, stress and nutrition impact hormone levels, which can also influence hair growth.
WHEN AND FOR HOW LONG
As I mentioned above, four months is a common timeframe to start noticing PP hair loss. It can last up to a year, but *usually* the normal hair cycle will resume by about six months. I am currently seven months PP and am still experiencing hair loss; however, it has slowed notably. PHEW.
CAN I PREVENT IT/CAN I STOP IT
The short answer? Not really. Hormones are going to change the way that they do – I usually tell people to hold on to their hats because it IS a wild ride. The extremes of the ride are thankfully temporary, and PP hair loss is too. What you CAN do (and should do anyway) is eat a healthy diet, drink lots of water, continue to take your vitamins, get enough sleep (haha), manage stress, make time for appropriate forms of exercise, and try to be patient. Although it can be concerning or trigger certain feelings, PP hair loss won’t last and it does not impact your ability to continue being a kick-ass mom.
**IF you are concerned about your PP hair loss, suspect you may have a thyroid condition, or know that you do, definitely consult with your physician. I recommend every postpartum woman get their thyroid checked if you haven’t already. You iron levels can also impact hair loss, so add that test to the list!
Here are a few pics of my hair loss journey. From straight up balding – I know that sounds dramatic but it was dicey, guys – to now, growing new hair where it was all lost prior. Again, PHEW.
trying to keep it real,