Yes, life is unfair. So you gave up alcohol, kicked your caffeine habit to the curb, and even gave up wearing high heels.
But three months in, after surviving the denotation of a beautiful bombshell, your hair is falling out in clumps. Just as you and baby are getting to know each other.
Mother nature’s reward for your supreme efforts means your former glossy, full head of hair is no longer. In fact, it’s fine, limp and listless. So how do you cope with hair loss after pregnancy?
While you knew this would happen, it’s still hard to prepare for the anxiety you feel each time you lose more hair to your brush.
Or that sense of despair in the pit of your tummy when you need to twist the band one more time whenever you put your hair up.
Deep down, you know it’s a temporary thing, but being aware of that doesn’t help when you face the world feeling less confident than before the birth.
Hair loss can be stressful at the best of times, but you are at your most vulnerable postpartum than at any other time in life.
How common is hair loss after pregnancy?
Well, I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone. While there are no hard figures out there, some websites estimate it affects around 40 to 50% of women. For some, it’s worse than others.
It can vary from new mothers finding extra hair on their pillow in the morning to them having to stop showering half-way through to unclog the drain, to finding bald patches along their hairline.
I went through it a few times, the worst one being after I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. (Whom, ironically, now has the thickest hair you’ll ever see.) No, I don’t know if it is gender-related. And yes, it was traumatic.
You see, every morning, I found hair on my pillow or even in my food. And I was crushed. I remember being very upset when I found his little fist clutching a clump of my hair.
In fact, it even makes me a bit sad now, when I look back at photos of my 6-month-old baby; he is usually with his father or other members of my family as I didn’t want to be captured.
Celebrity hair loss after pregnancy
Over time, women have been bombarded with shampoo ads featuring models with glossy, full locks. Take Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle; both have lovely thick dark locks that are enviable if you’re hair isn’t up too much now.
Because everywhere you look, there are women with better hair than you. Or so it feels like. You might think you’re the only one of your mom friends to suffer from this, but rest assured that you aren’t. You see, not everyone talks about this. Many women suffer in silence.
So, kudos for the celebrities who have mentioned it. Selma Blair confided in People magazine that her hair started falling out around three months after the birth and that:
“I need to take longer showers so that I can collect the hair that falls out and throw it away, so I don’t clog the drain.”
Even ultra-glam Kate Hudson started to feel down after the birth of her son. A few years ago, she revealed in an interview with Reebok magazine that following the birth of Bingham.
“I got acne, all my hair fell out after he was born, and I definitely had to work out to drop the weight.”
Author Giovanna Fletcher recently shared a picture of her tufty regrowth on her Instagram account, generating plenty of praise and over 14,000 likes for talking about how to cope with hair loss after pregnancy. Her comments resonated with new mums all over the US, who shared photos off their hair (or lack of it).
But while Kim Kardashian didn’t speak out about her experience, photos taken shortly after the birth of her first daughter, show her with noticeably thinner hair.
Reasons for hair falling out after pregnancy
So why does hair loss happen? The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), states “postpartum hair loss is a form of a condition known as’ telogen effluvium’, and it’s surprisingly common. In other words, what you’re experiencing after the birth, is not actually hair loss, but hair shedding.”
Now for the science bit: Hair follicles go through three stages:
- Anagon, or growing period of a hair follicle, which lasts up to 5 years
- Catagen is the intermediate stage, lasting around 1-2 weeks
- Telogen, is the resting and shedding stage of the hair, lasting up to 3 to 4months
So, once the shedding phase has occurred, the process begins all over again.
Hormones affect hair growth during pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, you’ll experience an increase in the amount of estrogen. This hormone is responsible for your fuller and thicker hair during pregnancy, as it signals for more follicles to enter the growing stage. Once you have given birth, estrogen levels drop to what they were before you got pregnant. As a result, more follicles move into the resting phase causing fewer hairs to grow. After languishing in the resting period for around 100 days, these hairs will start to shed.
Hair loss after pregnancy and breastfeeding
Despite what some people might say, breastfeeding is not related to your postpartum hair loss. So don’t stop breastfeeding on account of your hair; you don’t want to miss out on all the benefits of breastfeeding.
Does hair grow back?
Yes, it does. Thankfully. I can attest to that. Hell, it can even change the structure. With some mums reporting thicker hair after regrowth. Alas, that didn’t happen to me, not even after the third time.
How long does it take my hair to grow back?
According to the NHS, it should stop falling out after 10-12 weeks. But this is different for every woman. It took me around 5 months, and by the time my baby officially turned into a toddler (1 year), my hair was back to normal.
What can you do to stop hair loss after pregnancy?
Sadly it can be inevitable for some women; all you can do is to treat your hair and scalp right, see below for tips, and wait it out.
Hair loss after pregnancy – what to do?
Because this is only a temporary phase, the AAD advises to not seek treatment as such. Unless you feel it’s excessive, or if it’s still happening a year after the birth, then please consult your doctor. Your hair loss might be related to an underlying health condition.
How to cope with hair loss after pregnancy- 9 tips that really worked for me:
1. No heated appliances
Step away from your straightener and/or curling tongs and leave your hair to dry naturally whenever you can.
2. Get a new haircut
Go to a hairdresser you trust and confide in her. She has most likely seen it all before and will be able to advise on a hairstyle that covers up any patchy areas.
3. Pick the right shampoo
Invest in a good volumizing shampoo, but only use it once a week if your hair doesn’t get too greasy.
4. Just condition-try this one
Use a conditioner made for fine hair that doesn’t weigh down your hair. I tend to wash my hair only with conditioners, and my hair hasn’t looked better. If you have very fine hair, just use it on the ends.
Massage your scalp once a day; this will stimulate your follicles for regrowth.
Try a volumizing mousse to bulk up your hair.
7. Gently does it
Avoid pulling at your hair with a brush. Use a gentle brush and only brush your hair once a day.
8. Don’t give yourself a natural facelift
Don’t pull your hair in a tight ponytail.
9. Best tip for instant volume
Don’t blowdry your hair, instead, towel dry it gently and put (non-heated!) rollers in. Or if your hair is already dry, and you’re planning on staying around the house, pop these in, and leave them in for at least half an hour. Instant volume!
Vitamins for hair growth
Fill up on protein at every meal
So keep taking your prenatal vitamin supplement to maintain hair health. Also, make sure you take care of your diet and eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, and consume healthy proteins.
When I suffered from this, I went to see a trichologist. She was very sympathetic and told me that I was at the more severe part of the spectrum. She recommended to up my iron intake, drink orange juice instead of tea (alongside meals to absorb iron), and to eat more protein in the form of fish and nuts, as your hair is basically protein. I now never start the day without a healthy bowl of nuts, yogurt, and seeds.
To recap, your hair will get back to normal, and if you stick to the advice above it should grow back healthy.
However, if you feel your hair loss is excessive, it takes longer than the normal three to four months, or you just can’t cope with hair loss after pregnancy, then please consult your local health provider.
Worried about your baby’s development? Check our convenient 12-month guide, and find out what red flags to watch out for.