My best friend got married in October of 2007, about 4.5 months after having my son. The wedding was wonderful and, as we girls often do, we had our hair professionally styled. My hair was long, curly, and I couldn't believe how good it looked. Well, a few days later I washed my hair and the entire drain was full of hair. At first I thought maybe it was due to all of the hair products the sylists used or the curling iron, but my hair continued to fall out in clumps. I couldn't wear my hair down or my shirt would be covered in hair and each time I washed my hair and looked at my hands, I would completely freak out. I thought for sure I would go bald. I never made it quite to bald, but my hair was extremely thin for a while and totally unmanageable so, I just kept it pulled back for months.
What is this hair loss and what causes it?
Many women believe the magic number of weeks until you "get back to normal" after pregnancy is six, but this is far from true when considering all of the hormonal and physiological changes the body goes through after birth. Your body will take months to recover, maybe even a year! A major change is the excessive hair loss usually about three to six months post-pregnancy called telogen effluvium. While this can also happen during pregnancy, it is much more likely to occur postpartum. Telogen means a resting phase and after pregnancy the change in hormones, most significantly, the decrease in estrogen and progesterone, cause your hair to fall out. You feel like you are losing so much hair because this phase decreases during pregnancy so, you have much more hair to lose postpartum. Normally we lose about 100 hairs a day, but this decreases drastically during pregnancy so when you start losing clumps of hair, try not to have a heart attack like I did! Though it may seem like forever, your hair will get back to its normal growth cycles, I promise, but it may take 6-12 months postpartum. I, personally, did not feel normal again until almost a year after my son was born... and I didn't lose the weight until he started running around full force.
When this hair loss occured, I went to see my gynocologist who reassured me, as he often did during pregnancy, too, and gave some great advice about what I could do to help my hair gain strength, grow in healthy, and to boost my immune system.
What can I do to help my hair?
There are several things you can try, though they honestly don't always work. I know it is difficult for those of us who have little patience for such things, but sometimes you just have to wait it out. Nevertheless, here are some tips on what to try:
1. Start taking prenatal vitamins again! Many women stop taking their prenatals as soon as, or soon after, they have their baby. This is NOT a good idea. Your body needs as much help as possible to regain strength and to heal from the pregnancy and birth. Plus, your body is used to having these extra vitamin supplements so, when you stop taking them and are trying to heal at the same time, of course there will be some issues. As a side not, you should also continue taking your prenatals if you are breastfeeding. :) Many women take prenatals all the time just because it makes their skin, hair, nails, etc. much healthier.
2. Take vitamin supplements. If you had issues with your prenatal vitamins, such as nausea and vomitting, like I did, you will probably look for other options. Take a daily vitamin or even 2 children's vitamins (like Flinstones) plus some extra supplements for vitamins not included. Here are some great supplements to stimulate hair growth and which contribute to healthy hair: Omegas (fish oil extract supplements and flaxseed oil supplements), Biotin (vitamin H), Silica, Calcium, and Zinc.
3. Scalp Massage - I am a big fan of this one because, if nothing else, at least it feels good. :) Get someone to massage your scalp for you or use a boar bristle brush (make sure you have all the tangles out of your hair if you use a brush because you don't want to cause more hair loss!)
4. Eat Heathy Foods - Eat your fruits and veggies, especially those rich in vitamin C! Many foods such as fish, avocados, and nuts are high in Omega 3s. Click on the link to read about more foods and supplements that will strengthen your hair and stimulate regrowth!
I was going to post some pictures of postpartum hair loss, but realized they completely freak me out still. I can't stand to look at them and they will inevitably cause a few reoccuring nightmares along with those teeth falling out dreams. Horrible, I tell you!
Just remember when you look down at your brush full of hair that it is completely normal and that this, too, shall pass! Plus, what little baby isn't worth losing a bit of hair? My hair stopped falling out as much just around 7 months or so, but continued to come out for a little longer. I was just relieved not having a drain full of hair each time I took a shower. Hair grosses me out, even my own, if you couldn''t already tell.
I was inspired to write this post because last night I washed my hair and, for the first time since Liam was born, a huge clump of hair came out and I thought, here we go again!
Anyone else experience this? How long did your hair fall out?