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Postpartum Hair Loss

By Amalah

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 sometimes 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.
H

Why Your Hair is Falling Out

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.

What to Do Until the Shedding Stops

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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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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 Ama...

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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