Pregnancy is full of surprises and weirdness. Swelling, nausea, leg cramps, stretching, itching, and so much more. Aside from the giant hospital underwear and the fact that your vagina or midsection just survived a legit natural disaster, giving birth is typically the end of the madness. Or so you would think. Unfortunately, mother nature has one more gift to bestow upon you.
Welcome to postpartum hair loss — otherwise known as the freaky phenomenon that leaves us all wondering what the actual hell is going on.
Postpartum hair loss, or excessive shedding as medical professionals call it, is a real thing, unfortunately. It often peaks four months postpartum and resolves by your baby’s first birthday. What starts as a few extra hairs in your brush evolves to a kitten-sized clog in your shower drain and your partner asking in horror if everything is okay. Sounds delightful, right?
Well, good news, though it’s unsettling and messy, postpartum hair loss is totally normal, and temporary.
If this isn’t your first rodeo, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re reading this as an expectant first-time mom, you may already be freaking out, but trust me, it’s fine. You may feel like Cynthia from Rugrats for a few months, but don’t worry, postpartum shedding is rarely noticeable to anyone else.
You may be asking yourself, WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? And the short answer is hormones. Because of course it is.
Pregnancy causes an increase in estrogen, which slows the usual rate of hair loss. On average, normal hair loss is about 100 hairs per day, but not during pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, the rate of fall out is much lower thanks to the rise in estrogen. However, what goes up must come down, and shortly after pregnancy those estrogen levels begin to fall. This shift in hormone levels brings hair loss rates back to normal.
Along with normal fall out, the hairs that stayed put during pregnancy are jumping ship too, which makes the shedding feel like full-on balding. Don’t worry, it’s not. Though it’s not ideal, postpartum hair loss is definitely manageable. To minimize the effects of any fall out, there are a few things you can do.
– Use volumizing shampoo for extra body.
– Try a fun new hairstyle. Talk with your stylist about different options and ideas that might work best.
– Avoid applying conditioner or other heavy products on your roots.
Before you know it, new little hairs will be popping up left and right. Of course, they will all be an inch long and standing at attention all over your head, but hey, they’re coming back, and that’s what matters.
Since we are talking about postpartum issues, I want to mention one other concern that could come into play with hair loss and that’s a hair tourniquet. A hair tourniquet occurs when a loose hair strand wraps itself around your baby’s toe, finger, or other body part. A single hair can become so tight it can cut off circulation and cause devastating problems. Check for hair tourniquets during diaper and clothing changes.
If you find a hair tourniquet, don’t panic. Look for the loose end of the hair and gently unwind it. You may need to cut the hair if you are unable to locate the end. If you can’t remove the hair, because it’s too tight, seek medical attention immediately.
Who knew hair could be such a pain in the ass? Okay, you’re right, we all knew. Sorry to add to more to that list, but I thought you should know. Just remember it may suck, but it’s temporary, and totally normal.