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Postpartum Hair Loss

Feb13

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Hi Amy,

I just had a baby, a boy, on October 1st. This is my first baby so I’ve gotten most of my pregnancy tips from your pregnancy calendar, Zero to Forty (which I loooved and now miss reading) and of course, I love reading your blog! Reading about Ezra & Noah some times acts as a sanity check for me.

My question is, how do I handle the post-pregnancy hair loss? It’s been four months since I’ve had my baby and it seems like ALL OF A SUDDEN I’m losing my hair by the handfuls. It is so gross. My baby now grabs my hair when I pick him up, and I often have to unclench his vice-like baby fist and remove strands of my hair before they end up in his mouth. And it’s getting to the point that I dread taking a shower and washing my hair because the hair just comes out in handfuls when I shampoo/condition/rinse. I haven’t read any tips about handling the hair loss in pregnancy mags and books, except to expect some hair loss after having a baby.

Is there anything to be done?

Thank you.
Heather

Is there anything to be *done*? No. Is this totally and completely normal? Yes. Will you soon be as bald as your bald-headed baby, only a million times not-as-cute? No.

So…here comes the science: Most women actually lose, on average, about 100 hairs a day, usually when showering or brushing it out. This is hair that is no longer actively growing, and the non-growing hairs make up about 5 to 15 percent of what’s on your head. So it’s not really a big deal when you see them end up on your hairbrush in the morning.

During pregnancy, your wackaloon hormones keep your hair growing and growing. And growing. That 5 to 15 percent number plummets. So you shed less hair. Sometimes (and this was probably true for you) you shed a lot less, so your hair gets thicker and lovelier and pregnancy-glowier.

But then you pay for this postpartum. Usually around three to four months after you give birth, your hormones go wackaloon in the other direction, and your plummeting estrogen levels slow your hair growth once more. And alllll the hair you didn’t shed during pregnancy starts coming out in clumps. It’s…not fun, and it’s happened to me both times, and I’m currently in the thick (thin?) of it right now.

The good news is that it IS totally temporary. My hair always evened itself out and went back to its pre-pregnancy state (more or less) at about six months postpartum. (Although I think some books say it can take up to a year, but I don’t think that necessarily means an entire rock-solid year of the kind of loss you’re experiencing.) You will not go bald, promise. Your hair will be thin and flat and clog drains and get absolutely everywhere (more on that in a sec), but you ARE growing new hair, just at a slower rate. To go bald, you would need the replacement growth to stop, and that isn’t happening. Whew.

In the meantime, you may want to get a shorter, layered cut to add a little more body (and keep the lost hair from being loooooong and clogging the drains so badly). Wear it up or back around your baby to prevent the painful fist-tangles. (I KNOW THESE WELL. OUCH. GOD.) Use any and all volumizing products you can find, blow-dry upside down, try to keep from brushing it constantly. And repeat to yourself: THIS TOO SHALL PASS. (Hey, I sense a theme this week!)

One note of caution, especially since you have a boy: Your hair can get wrapped around little fingers and toes and penises and do major damage — it’s like your hair becomes a strand of razor-like wire around the delicate little skin. If you’re a blonde, like me, you may not notice the hair tourniquets until too late, or until your baby is crying for no apparent reason. Check his toes and privates carefully during every diaper change, because believe me, it happens. Oy.

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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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33 Responses to “Postpartum Hair Loss”

  1. Amy Feb 13 at 10:10 am Reply Reply

    This happened to me, badly, with my first. I looked like I had a receding hairline. I had to get it cut differently to hide the bald spots. But they grew back, and it wasn’t nearly as bad with my second pregnancy.
    Great advice about checking appendages for stray hairs!!

  2. Brooke Feb 13 at 11:11 am Reply Reply

    Ugh. I had my daughter in November and am in the thick of this as well and fight with my bathtub drain daily. I went through it with my first, but it seems so much worse this time… who knows? But I do, every now and then, have mental images of going bald. Not pretty.

  3. Mrs. CPA Feb 13 at 12:18 pm Reply Reply

    I am right (hopefully) towards the end of this myself. This is practically teh worst part of having a baby for me. HATE HAIR NOT ON MY HEAD. Anyway. From my experience with my first baby, it goes away. Until then – throw large clumps of hair in the toilet when you get ready to dry it, pick multiple peices out of your shirt that are tickling you to the point of screaming, and don’t commit a crime anytime soon. They’ll totally catch you with hair DNA.

  4. MamaCarter Feb 13 at 12:35 pm Reply Reply

    Nursing can affect hair loss, too. If you quite nursing abruptly the hormones go wacky abruptly,too. Also, the hair at your temples may get thin enough that you look like you are balding, but you aren’t. You’ll just feel like it (trust me – I actually freaked out and went to a dermatologist, convinced my scalp was ailing. but no. he laughed. discreetly, but still – he laughed! grrr). I know one woman who had her hair highlighted a bit so that her darker hair wouldn’t look so spare against her pale skin. OH and crap I almost forgot – the stuff that grows in all at once…um….may stick up until it is long enough to fold over. So yeah, you might have a scareline instead of a hairline. Use gel and slick it back. Carry a small tube in your purse/pocket/diaper bag. And then, unfortch, just wait.

  5. Tiffany Feb 13 at 3:16 pm Reply Reply

    I just had a baby also on October 10th and am dealing with this same issue. I hate shampooing my hair, brushing my hair, anything to do with my hair… my husband finds it all tangled up in his beard for no reason!
    But I had some tests run at my doctor’s appointment, and my thyroid was super duper low, and she said that can also cause it. So if you have an appt coming up, you may mention it just in case. I had other problems that were being masked by being a New Mom, but now that I’m on a thyroid medication, I feel a million times better.

  6. Lisa M Feb 13 at 3:31 pm Reply Reply

    Tiffany, thanks so much for mentioning thyroid problems. I’ve been wondering why I’m losing more hair than usual recently, and I’ve been waking up tired, too! Seriously, the hair loss is almost as bad as postpartum. I’m going to call my doctor for an appointment next week.
    Seriously…thanks…it would have taken me forever to put those two items together.

  7. ms martyr Feb 13 at 4:20 pm Reply Reply

    Not pregnancy related but I lost ALL my hair to chemo. My sister recommended this supplement:
    http://www.procapslabs.com/PCL/Pages/Products/PCLProductDetail.aspx?Hair-Skin-%26-Nail-Benefits
    I think it helps. Had last chemo November ’07 and have had my hair cut and colored at least six times since March ’08. It’s about chin length but would be longer without the trims.

  8. angela Feb 13 at 4:40 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter is 8 months and I am growing my baby bangs now. I had a thin spot for a while and my stylist told me not to wear clips or pull it back too much so it could heal. I did what she said for a month and my hair was thicker in that spot. It will grow back and you will have spikes and it’s annoying but it will look better in about a year. This is my 2nd go at this, so I know mine will look better when she is about a year and half old.

  9. Jen L. Feb 15 at 9:48 am Reply Reply

    Oh, bless your heart, I remember the great hair fallout of 2008! It hit me right in the middle of the summer. My hair was down to the middle of my back, so I ended up cutting off about 7 inches. At least the hairs were shorter then. Amy’s right about checking your baby’s toes and inside his diaper. Also, do a finger sweep in the feet of his sleepers–hairs get caught in there sometimes in the laundry. Hope your shedding levels out soon.

  10. Stephanie Feb 16 at 2:44 pm Reply Reply

    Great advice. I’ll be sure to try this out next time I get my hair tangled.

  11. helen Feb 16 at 4:25 pm Reply Reply

    Had my first baby in September 08. Nobody told me about the hair loss I might suffer as a result. Nightmare! I too dreaded shampooing and brushing my hair as it seemed to come out in handfulls. Worse than owning a pet. getting better now but still concidering getting it cut short so it’s less hassel. Just a small price to pay for having my beautiful daughter though.

  12. Nixx Feb 16 at 8:08 pm Reply Reply

    My son was born in Sept 2008 and I’m going through this hair loss thing too. My son is my 5th child and I have never gone through this before (or not that I really noticed)! It was COMPLETELY freaking me out until I read this- thank you so much!

  13. emma Feb 17 at 4:37 pm Reply Reply

    ive been havin exact same thing i had my son in sept 08 and all i do is run my finger,s through my hair and loads strands fall out!! never had this with ova two was so worried! x

  14. ikate Feb 23 at 3:01 pm Reply Reply

    Don’t forget that the hair loss happens after a miscarriage as well. I expected the loss after I had my daughter 2 years ago but when I miscarried at 7 weeks in December I wasn’t expecting it and I lost way, WAY more then I did pospartum…so much so that I went to my doctor about it.

  15. arome Feb 27 at 5:51 pm Reply Reply

    Yes! my little girl is 4.5 months old and my hair has just started falling out everywhere! In the tub, shower, bed, nursery, at work. Uggg! So glad to hear it’s normal though. Whew!

  16. Tessa Mar 26 at 10:01 am Reply Reply

    Oh my goodness! you don’t know how much reading this has just cured by anxiety of having my hair come out in clumps in the shower. I had my baby Sept 2008, and at the start of January 09 I noticed that my hairline was getting thinner towards the sides and I was pulling out handfulls of hair from my brush. Now I know that nothing’s wrong with me and it wil get better.Yes!

  17. Dawna Mar 26 at 7:13 pm Reply Reply

    So we have all come to the conclusion that this is normal that our hair will fall out. This is my 4th child and it seems worse then ever. I am now wondering how long it is going to fall out for? I am getting married in April and feel like I just might need a wig at this point :( ! I have started taking supplements for hair skin and nails and using special shampoo and conditioner. I imagine Im doing all the right things but WHEN will this stop.
    Thanks for any feedback in advance.

  18. sarah Apr 28 at 6:46 am Reply Reply

    my hair started falling out 3 months post partum, blood test revealed i had low iron levels so i was prescribed ferrouse sulphate, at app 6 monts my hair stopped falling out, at about 9 months my hair started falling out again and is still going, my little girl is nearly 14 months now and its really annoying because my hair is becoming incresingly thin, i am taking these vitamins called provillus, is any1 experiencing this dilemma?have they heard of provillus x

  19. maypop May 03 at 7:00 pm Reply Reply

    This is SOOO reassuring to read!!! My hair loss, which started at about 4mos postpartum, was coming out in such large clumps that it actually made me nauseous to see. The hair loss continues now at 6mos postpartum, though not as severe, but STILL coming out!! It’s thinner now than it’s ever been. Plus I have big thin spots at my hairline. :( :(
    I will stop pulling my hair back b/c I do think that’s contributing to it falling out, though having my daughter pull it out cuz it’s not tied back will ALSO contribute to its thinning. Ugh!! I guess it’s more just a waiting game. I still think I need to check my thyroid. Double ugh!!

  20. Dawna May 22 at 5:30 pm Reply Reply

    Since my last post I have stopped losing my hair, it seemed to last about 2 1/2 months. The new growth has started coming in fast. I am happy to report that it seems like it last a long time but truly is short lived.

  21. kristin Jun 02 at 1:46 pm Reply Reply

    Ok, but what about when it starts growing back!! Now I have these crazy dark (and apparently curly??) hairs that are making my hair puff out like a bad tease-job! HERE’s the thing nobody talks about. Any advice?

  22. KarenW. Jul 03 at 9:22 am Reply Reply

    Thank you for the comments Ladies! My child will be 1yr old end of July. My initial pp hairloss was @ abt 4mos pp (around the edges). It grew back rather quickly, but I now know how it feels to wear a comb-over! In Feb I started pills for hyper thyroidism. In May, my hair fell out in handfulls. I didn’t know what to think. I am an African American,and I wear a relaxer.I was considering going natural until I read your posts. Washing is a matted nightmare these days. Combing and brushing takes soooo long because….I think my thyroid is finding it’s balance, probably explaining such late hair loss. It really helps to know that I am not alone. I will now back away from the clippers ;)

  23. Anonymous Sep 08 at 2:40 pm Reply Reply

    It has been almost 4 months since I had the baby on May 11th. I noticed my hairloss at around 3 & 1/2 months postpartum. Initially I thought may be I am not washing my hair enough or may be I am getting dandruff…etc due to which I am loosing my hair. Its so bad. Especially when I shampoo/condition/blow dry, brush or even if I brush my fingures through my hair….I get clumps of it. Feels so yucky and mostly VERY SCARY to pick up after the hair every where. I’ve never had so much hair loss in my life (UNTILL NOW). I am just hoping to be done with this phase VERY SOON. Very Nice to know that this is temporary. But still not so nice while it lasts. :)

  24. Mary Sep 11 at 1:48 pm Reply Reply

    Did anyone have their hair grow in differently? With both of my kids, my hair grew in straight during pregnancy and post partum. So not only do I have the hair loss, which has finally slowed down by 6 months, I have straight limp hair on the top of my head like I’m growing out a perm. Lst time I know I cut it short (chin length), but then I didn’t have the option of just pulling it up. I. hate. this. limp. straight. hair. As a natural-curl girl I just don’t have any idea what to do with it (low maintenace at least) to make it look better.

  25. Lisa Sep 20 at 10:32 am Reply Reply

    This helps me to know that I am not alone. I hate showering because I can wrap clumps around my fingers and stick it to the shower wall. Its disgusting!!! My baby just turned four months old and this has been happening for about a month with no end in sight. I hope it stops soon. The hair at my temples is receeding and it really throws you into a panic. I can’t believe how much thinner my hair feels. For someone with poker straight hair, this is not a good thing! Anyway, best wishes to everyone. Our hair will come back soon right????

  26. ColeyCole Sep 28 at 3:10 pm Reply Reply

    I had my baby girl in early June & I too am experiencing a HUGE amount of hair loss which began 3 months post partum. It’s starting to bald in the front, so I comb the remaining hair over it. I know they say it’s normal, but it didn’t happen with my first pregnancy. I’m starting to wonder if it’s pp or is it the birth control method that we’re using. It’s called Implanon (a little stick inserted into the arm). I have already cut my hair to a shorter length thinking that would slow down the loss, but it didn’t. Some days I feel like I want to cry. I’m thinking about making an appointment to go see the doctor…

  27. Kristen Oct 30 at 1:42 pm Reply Reply

    My son is 5 months old and I think I’ve been loosing hair for about 3 months now. My husband’s stunned when he has to use the shower after me. I can pull out ropes of hair. I’m very anxious about this!!! I touch my hair, it comes out. Forget about brushing it! I stopped doing that because it seems like when I do I may lose it all at once!!! This is carzy and never happened to me to this extent with my other 2 children!!

  28. Mel Nov 03 at 12:21 pm Reply Reply

    Help! I am breastfeeding and had to cut dairy out of my diet. Hairloss started at 3 mos and is going strong at 6 mos. When will it end. Could lack of dairy and breastfeeding have exacerbated it?

  29. Jill Nov 07 at 9:18 am Reply Reply

    Thank God I am not alone in this! Though I am sorry for all of you ladies that we are in this same sinking ship… It is so traumatic to feel you are going bald, so so quickly! Never experienced anything like this in my life and it is harder than others could ever imagine! Started at 4 months post partum and in just 3 weeks I feel I have already lost half my hair… Promise we won’t lose it all??? I have a hair appointment today to cut my long curly locks (what little is left of them now) shorter to try to volumize and hide my receding hairline and bald spot front center forehead (couldn’t be uglier!)… Trying to survive this day by day.. Thank God for hats! I am saddest that what should be the most joyous time of my life with my sweet daughter is shadowed by this pp hair loss. Nobody ever talks about this! I never knew it was even a phenomenon… I can imagine why… Best Wishes Ladies… My sister is getting married soon and I REFUSE to walk down the aisle bald… Anyone try extensions or wigs??

  30. Anonymous Nov 14 at 7:32 pm Reply Reply

    My hair loss started during pregnancy during the first trimester, then it stopped until about 3 months pp. I am now almost 5 months pp and it finally slowed down again. I have extremely thin hair now. I bought a hair piece which was $$$ but absolutely worth it as my hair is so thin on the top you can see my scalp. I do need to cut it but dread going to the salon because it looks so terrible and I dread sitting and watching my stylist try to make it look okay. I suggest the hair pieces–it is like an extension that clips to your hair on top of your head.

  31. Melissa Dec 14 at 9:49 am Reply Reply

    Hi ladies! These posts have calmed me down! 3.5 months now and I’m shedding like a golden retriver. Check the crib mattress and all other surfaces baby is on to avoid tiny fingers getting wrapped. It’s so strange to find so much hair all over the house! But this too shall pass. Best wishes to you all for happy regrowth!

  32. Sarah Jan 09 at 6:54 pm Reply Reply

    I am about 3 1/2 months pp and am losing lots of hair… :( It really does help to know I’m not alone. My hair loss has been very even all over my head (no bald spots yet… thankfully). What’s the worst for me is the bathtub and our bed. It’s all over the tub after a bath or shower, and when I wake up in the mornings, there’s hair all over my pillow and on the sheets. ICK!!! I have always had this thing about loose hairs… hairs that aren’t attached to someone’s head or body make me gag. I don’t know why, but I’ve been that way my whole life. I used to have my mom clean out my hairbrush and the shower drain because I would literally almost puke… especially when the hair was wet. I’m a little better now, but it’s still very unpleasant. I find that if I go ahead and brush my hair several times a day, at least it won’t be quite so bad around the house. Here’s to all the ladies dealing with post-pregnancy hair loss! We will survive! ;)

  33. NJC Jan 13 at 9:13 am Reply Reply

    It’s so reassuring to read all these posts! I’m almost 4months pp, and losing big clumps of hair in the shower and brush has really freaked me out. I can see that I’ve lost a lot at the temples, and it makes me wonder what bald spots I may find next! I vaguely remember this happening with my other 2 children, but for some reason this time seems worse and is making me very anxious. I was thinking it might be stress related, and I do take medicine for low thyroid which I had skipped (along with my prenatal vites) for about a week. I feel a lot better knowing that I’m not alone and that this is normal (but not fun!).

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