How to Cope with Postpartum Hair Loss
My first postpartum visit with my doctor went a lot like I expected it to: I answered the barrage of questions in a half-awake daze while nursing my infant daughter—no, I wasn’t feeling abnormally sad, yes, I was done bleeding post C-section. I looked up groggily at my OB, and stopped her mid-sentence to ask, “is this much postpartum hair loss normal?”
It had been awhile since I had felt “normal;” after all, I’d been a new mom for 8 weeks and was back to work, in school as a graduate student, and incredibly overwhelmed. I worried all I had on my plate was the reason why I looked like a creature from Lord of the Rings, losing all my hair, but my doctor did inform me that postpartum hair loss was normal for many women—and filled me in on what to expect moving forward.
Understanding Postpartum Hair Loss
Postpartum hair loss is due to the body’s soaring hormone levels—with the culprits notably being estrogen and progesterone. The uptick in these two hormones cause your hair to be fuller and thicker, which is considered to be among the greatest positive side effects of pregnancy. Once you give birth, though, your hormones begin to level out, and this is the time that many women experience postpartum hair loss, or “postpartum alopecia” in medical speak. The process of losing hair can begin about 2-3 months postpartum, and could continue for months afterwards while your body readjusts to postpartum/non-pregnancy hormones. It doesn’t happen to every woman, and might not happen in every pregnancy—it literally just depends on how those hormones even out once you’ve given birth. Postpartum hair loss is absolutely normal, though, and isn’t something to be alarmed by, despite how your mama hair goes from lustrous and lengthy to patchy and thin.
How to Cope with Postpartum Hair Loss
Postpartum hair loss, or postpartum alopecia, is not a serious medical condition but rather a very frustrating one. When you’re caring for a newborn and healing while also likely juggling lots of other plates, adding another “thing” can feel very overwhelming. If you’re losing hair all over or even if you’re losing it at the front like I did, it’s likely no one else has taken notice like you have.
The first step to dealing with this problem is knowing that it does not affect your ability to parent, to work, or to do anything else well—but, if you’re anything like me, it can do a number on an already delicate self-esteem immediately postpartum. I felt alllll the emotions you can feel postpartum, but particularly pretty was not one of them. While this isn’t important to every woman, having no hair to make a mom bun with was not my favorite thing in the world. I began using volumizing conditioners, relied heavily on dry shampoo, (for more reasons than one) and took collagen supplements in the hopes that my thinning hair wouldn’t be a permanent situation. Though a combination of these things did seem to help, it wasn’t until about 6 months postpartum that I kind of accepted it: having a receding hairline was just my new reality, and I’d have to grin and bear it–because mama can’t afford extensions.
Coincidentally, my hair began coming back around that same time. It began to sprout up in baby hair, and I was looking a bit like Friar Tuck for a minute before everything was filling back in. I was elated to get my hair back, and whether it was a combination of hormones or the things I’d been desperately attempting to woo my hair back into place, I was considering this a victory.
Postpartum hair loss is nothing to be ashamed of, and can absolutely happen in one pregnancy and not in the next, and can be as drastic as mine was (I literally had 4 inches of bald spots around my hairline) or can be barely noticeable. The key thing to remember is that it DOES sort itself out in time, and is a small price to pay for that incredible little one by your side. Besides—now that I’m entering into the toddler years, it might be nice to have LESS hair to pull out while dealing with a rambunctious tot. 😉