Hair Today... Gone Tomorrow - Postpartum Hair Loss
Do you remember your pregnancy hair? Thick, luscious and shiny hair that left you feeling like the Herbal Essences woman? Apart from the huge bump, lower back pain and heartburn...
Then you have your baby and suddenly you are finding hair falling everywhere. And I literally mean EVERYWHERE. It is in the shower (your other half will 100% be whinging about hair in the drain), it's on your sheets, on your clothes on your cat, on your baby. And sometimes it seems it is coming out in clumps, especially on your hairline.
That thick, luscious hair may become thin and limp and all of a sudden you are left panicking. And are wondering if you will end up bald as 2007 Britney Spears. With the occasional few baby hairs that look better suited to the tiny human you just gave birth to.
But don't worry. You are not going bald! Hair loss after pregnancy is totally normal. And unfortunately to be expected for the majority of women. If you are exclusively breastfeeding then hair loss can be delayed until you begin to wean your baby.
So whilst it is common there is no getting around the fact that this actually sucks. We normally lose around 100 hairs per day anyway but we don't notice it. I bet your partner does. And your vacuum. But the realty is that many women already struggle with the physical changes brought about by pregnancy and birth and this can be just another one of those things that makes you wonder what the hell is happening to your body. So here is a little info on why this happens.
So what causes postpartum hair loss?
In a word..... HORMONES. During your pregnancy you have an increased level of estrogen in your body. Estrogen stops the hair in the resting phase of the cycle. This is the hair that would normally fall out. This hair stays where it is, resulting in thicker hair. When you give birth, the estrogen levels start to decrease. And as a result, all the hair that was 'resting' starts to fall out again.
How long does it last?
Women usually report this as happening as early as the first week following birth. But is common around month 3 or 4 as those hormone levels really take a nose dive and return to normal. It is just a phase though. And your hair cycle should return to normal after around 6 months although many mums find that it can last up to a year.
What if it doesn't stop falling out?
In all honesty it almost always stops. 5% -10% of women suffer from something known as 'postpartum thyroiditis'. This is when excessive hair loss is paired with other symptoms (common in hyperthyroidism aka overactive thyroid) such as rapid weight loss, excessive hair loss, fast heart rate, anxiety, overheating. Although a lot of these come along with life as a new mum they are not particularly normal when in excess and you will notice that the hair loss doesn't settle. If that is the case make an appointment with your family doctor.
Tips for coping with postpartum hair loss:
1. DO NOT buy stupid supplements to promote hair growth. Seriously, spending $25 on strawberry tasting 'vitamin'' gummy sweet just because a Kardashian promotes them is not going to change your hormone levels. If it did then i'd be extremely worried. If you feel you need a supplement then just continue taking your prenatal vitamins in the postnatal period. Save your money. Gummy bear hair vitamins won't save your hair!
2. Get a hair cut. Go and see your hairdresser. They can style your thinner hair in to something manageable and something you like!
3. Avoid scraping your hair back in to a ponytail and using a tight bobble. It just pulls on the hair and can encourage more hair loss. If you do have any patchy hair at the hairline this style will only show it off.
4. Don't over brush/wash/style your hair.
5. Get on YouTube. There are some amazing tutorials from women who are dealing with the same issue! Use their experience and take their advice!
6. Remember that for the vast majority of women this is just a phase. It is a crappy one yes. But a phase none the less!
It isn't always doom and gloom either. One lovely woman pointed told me that yes, she has had hair loss post pregnancy, but this also includes her body. I don't know about you; but not having to shave my underarms daily sounds bloody glorious! And another woman explained that she had no hair loss at all following her pregnancy. But the opposite happened. She has lovely thick locks more than one year postpartum, but her leg hair growth increased too! So yeah.... swings and roundabouts really isn't it. Every pregnancy is different and this is just a perfect example of this. Moral of the post.... don't pull your hair our over something you can't control and there is almost always a silver lining :)