You’re just getting used to the pregnancy-induced luscious locks on the top of your head, and every time you catch a glimpse in the mirror you feel as though you’re looking at a Vidal Sassoon ad.
Then one day, without any warning, it all begins to go pear shaped.
The tumbleweeds of hair start appearing around the house, clumps are coming out in your hands as you shampoo, and you usually need to get the vacuum out each time you give it a good brush. Postpartum hair loss: it’s real, it’s terrifying, but it’s not forever.
One of the biggest myths shrouding this temporary loss of hair after giving birth is that it’s caused by breastfeeding, which is anything but true.
In fact, those who breastfeed find that they still retain some of the lovely locks they grew during pregnancy, and these disappear more slowly once baby is weaned.
So, what is it all about and why does it happen?
Pregnancy Hair Explained
When we’re not pregnant, our head loses on average about 100 hairs a day.
While it might sound like a lot, it’s spread out over the day, and bits and pieces are lost along the way. You’ll lose a little while you sleep, some when you shower, and even a few just sitting on the couch watching telly each night.
In these normal states, about 85 – 95% of our hair is in a growth period – and this increases significantly while we are pregnant.
So, in addition to having more of our hair growing, hormones in our body are holding onto hairs that are normally shed. In return, we’re gifted with a thick and luscious mane that many women find one of the most positive things about being pregnant in later trimesters.
After months of enjoying this thicker hair, everything comes to a screeching halt when we give birth and the hormones responsible begin to teeter off. You’ll usually notice these changes beginning a few months after you’ve had your baby, so whether you make the decision to breastfeed or not, your hair will return to its normal state eventually.
Am I Going Bald?
Although that’s probably the first thought running through your already tired head, you can rest assured that you’re not going bald. After you have your baby and the hormones start to settle down, your hair will be coming out at a fairly fast rate. It might seem that this is the case, but it’s all perfectly normal.
You might have people tell you that this hair loss is due to breastfeeding. However, the two aren’t related at all. No matter how you decide to feed your baby, your body will eventually catch up and shed some of the excess hair it had held on to for the last nine months, and the tumbleweeds will eventually roll on and find somewhere new to live.
How to Get Some Relief
According to the experts, your hair should return to its normal growth cycle between six and twelve months after having your baby, so just have faith that it shouldn’t be too long. However, if you’re finding it unmanageable then there are a few things you can do to help.
Invest in a wide tooth quality comb and brush it while it’s dry, being careful not rip or pull at it and cause more breakage. Before you shampoo and condition your hair, be sure to run the comb through it first while it’s dry to prevent shower drain blockages too.
If you have long hair in particular, cutting it into something shorter and more manageable can be a simple fix. When there’s less length to your hair, you might not notice so much of it falling out as well.
Sometimes a little TLC can go a long way, so invest a bit more into a new shampoo and conditioner that’s gentle on hair. As well as treating your hair, it can also be a lovely treat that has you looking and feeling better too.
If you’re worried that your hair loss seems to be more than average, or after 12 months of excessive loss it doesn’t seem to be slowing down, then make a visit to your GP to voice your concerns.
Sometimes excessive hair loss can be a symptom of other common postpartum conditions such as anaemia or hyperthyroidism and they need a closer look.
Usually, though, it is just one of the many wonderful things you have to look forward to in motherhood :)
For more info on everything pregnancy, baby, and breastfeeding related, why not check out the other blog articles from the Peachymama girls! We're all mums here.