Understanding Postpartum Hair Loss

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Postpartum hair loss sucks. There’s no gentle way to put it. It just flat out sucks. If you didn’t already hear, usually sometime within 6 months of having your sweet babe, your hair is going to start shedding in ways you didn’t know were possible.

Your hair strands are going to be everywhere, and you’ll find yourself reaching up to your crown, amazed that there’s anything left.

Now before you stress too much, it’s really not that bad. It just feels that bad. You are still going to have hair on your head. And if you begin to truly worry about how much hair you are losing and wonder if you might have severe postpartum hair loss, please do put a call in to your doctor.

So what is postpartum hair loss, and why does it happen?

Remember all that glorious hair you enjoyed during your pregnancy? Remember how thick and full it felt? Well, your hair was so much thicker because there was actually more of it. Normally, around 85-95% of our hair is in an active growing phase while the remaining 5-15% is in a resting phase. Those hairs that are in a resting phase will actually fall out and be replaced by new growth. On average, women normally shed around 100 hairs per day.

During pregnancy, the extra estrogen in our bodies actually halts the normal hair shedding process.

So rather than shedding 100 hairs a day, our heads hold onto them like... a toddler with an iPhone. And hence, we have months of thick, gorgeous hair to enjoy. But then once our babe (or babes!) is here, our pregnancy hormones drop off, and our heads give up on holding onto all those extra hairs. So let’s think … 9 months of pregnancy x 100 strands not lost per day … that’s a lot of hair our heads are looking to unload!

Now, what to do about postpartum hair loss?

You may find yourself wondering, how can you stop postpartum hair loss? The fact is, you can’t stop it. But you can do things to lessens it’s annoyance. Here are some steps you can take to help postpartum hair loss.

Keep taking your prenatal vitamin. It won't keep your hormone levels from dropping, but your prenatal vitamin will continue to supply you with lots of good vitamins and minerals that will help keep your hair in a healthier state.

Don't skimp on the hair products. Quality shampoos, conditioners, and treatments can help your hair be in the best health possible right now.

Dry shampoo for volumizing. Your hair may seem more lifeless during this transition, but some quality dry shampoo at the roots can give your coif a great boost of volume.

Brush in morning with a soft, close-bristled brush or a tight comb to help pull out the hairs that loosened in the night. It’s much easier to have them all together in a brush now than it is to collect them sporadically as you start out your day.

Reconsider the ponytail holders. Ponytails or messy buns trap all the hairs being shed, which can feel like a great break from the insanity for a time. But pulling your hair back too tightly can put extra stress on it and lead to additional breakage. If you love your messy bun look (and let's be honest, what mom doesn't), do pull it back gingerly and be ready to brush through it gently as soon as you take it down so you can remove all the trapped hairs at once.

Go for that short pixie you’ve always wanted. You’ll see moms go for a shorter cut during this time. It does not reduce the number of hairs you’re going to lose, but it does reduce their length. Which can make it all seem not quite as bad.

Clean your shower drain. You won’t realize it, but you’re likely losing strands down your shower drain. And if enough strands collect, you’re setting yourself up for a drain clog.

Okay, but does postpartum hair loss EVER end??

Yes, it does end. As your hormone levels finally normalize following pregnancy, you’ll see your hair loss return to a normal state.

It usually stops by 12-15 months postpartum, and sometimes sooner.

And... if you are pregnant again before your postpartum hair loss has ended, your pregnancy hormone levels will return, and your follicles will once again clutch all those hairs tightly to your beloved scalp.

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So. If you’re in the thick of the postpartum hair loss period, you may be annoyed as you find yourself pulling loose strands out in the shower or as you try to catch that random stray hair dangling ever so annoyingly off the back of your arm. Just try to remember that firstly, it was all for an amazing reason, and secondly, it is truly temporary. Postpartum hair loss may not be glamorous, but you can still feel like a million bucks by taking the time now to be extra kind to your hair - and yourself.