Pregnancy comes with a whole host of changes and not just to a woman’s body. Many women are also lucky to experience thicker, more lustrous hair due to a rise in estrogen and progesterone levels and a rise in blood volume. However, what goes up, must come down, and once these hormones level out following childbirth, this extra hair tends to fall out or ‘shed’ which can be upsetting and stressful for already-exhausted new moms. The good news is, in most cases, postpartum hair loss is completely normal, and it doesn’t last forever. We talked to four curly women about their experiences of postpartum hair loss and how they dealt with it.
“I was shocked when I was able to see through my hair almost to my crown. It was a year after my second child and I didn’t even realize that it was related to my postpartum transition. However, recovery after this pregnancy at the age of 38 took much longer than my first pregnancy four years earlier. My hair felt heavy and hurt. I couldn’t wear ponytails or buns because they would pull on my hair follicles. I cried when I tried a French braid and saw so much of my scalp showing on both sides.
“To promote new growth, I did soft scalp massages at night, took biotin vitamins and added collagen to my diet from bone broth and supplements. Additionally, I loaded up on veggies to promote healthy hormone balance and thus healthy hair growth as well.
“Hairstyle remedy? I cut my hair shorter to alleviate the weight and the heavy, pulling feeling. I loosely pinned back my bangs to conceal the balding spots for what looked like a loose half-up hairstyle. It felt like the longest journey to see the new hair growth come through. Thankfully however, I can now appreciate how the hair loss experience helped me to focus on my internal health at a time when I was a busy mom and could have so easily put my needs aside.”
“When I first experienced postpartum hair loss, I freaked out to begin with, thinking that there seemed to be so much coming out. I had long hair and I thought it made it look really awful! But I reassured myself with the knowledge that I hadn’t shed any hair during pregnancy, and now it was just extra hair I was shedding.
“To combat this, I made sure that I was gentle when washing and styling and also getting a balanced diet, to help keep my hair healthy. I had been eating a lot of dark green veggies like spinach and broccoli during pregnancy because I had low iron, so I continued with that afterward. In addition, I made sure I was getting vitamin C as well through fruit smoothies. I also gave myself a six-month window of grace. I decided that, if my shedding continued beyond that time, I would make an appointment with the doctor.
“Fortunately, it tailed off and I was fine. My top bit of advice? Don’t freak out! Take care of your health and your hair should right itself.”
Lydia During pregnancy, June 2020
“In July 2020 I noticed my hair getting thicker and I was amazed at how the volume seemed to increase every wash day. At first, I thought I was just doing something slightly different in my hair washing routine; when I got the positive pregnancy test – I was overjoyed! However, just two weeks after the positive test (when I was eight weeks pregnant”>, I miscarried. I have never felt such grief. I just felt empty. I had never met my baby in any way, never had a scan, never felt it move, my husband and I hadn’t even started thinking about a nursery but I just felt so lost and alone. And then, about two months later, a massive chunk of hair came out from the top of my head and around my temples when I was washing it.
Lydia Post-Miscarriage, September 2020
“I didn’t really think much of it initially; I don’t brush my hair much between washes so I always expect a fair amount of hair-fall. However, when the same thing happened the following wash, I started to get worried. I did lots of research and eventually discovered that you can have postpartum hair loss even after miscarriage as your hormone levels return to normal. My hair is very fine and low density already, so this was another blow! I didn’t really know how to deal with it. It really knocked my confidence. Nobody said a thing, and I doubt people would have noticed it, but I knew it and hated it.
“I read a lot about using oils and treatments to help encourage regrowth, but my mental state at the time didn’t give me the capacity to do that kind of selfcare. I just needed to get through each day and make it home to cry. Because of that, I don’t exactly know when my hair began to feel more normal again. About six months after the initial hair loss, I had a hair cut and realised that my hair was back to full strength. I am also beginning to feel more like myself again, and it’s wonderful to be able to share my thoughts and hair care journey with my friends once more.”
Helene during pregnancy
“As a fine-haired and low-density curly girl, thickness has always been out of reach for me, especially as I’ve been unscrupulously jeopardising my delicate hair with savage bleaching for more than 15 years. However, and against all odds, despite the highlights and lack of knowledge regarding curly hair care, my hair thrived during my pregnancies. As a matter of fact, before I started taking proper care of my curls, my best hair days happened during my two pregnancies, all without changing anything in my ‘routine!’ My hair stopped breaking and shedding, it looked healthy, full and thicker than ever. Of course, my hair was still damaged by the bleach and my pattern was much looser than it is now, because I had no idea how to deal with my curls, but it still looked better than before.
Helene during pregnancy
“Unfortunately, this beautiful story ended when I stopped breastfeeding. The shedding was even worse than before; my hair was thinning like crazy and you could see when holding what used to be a clump that I had about two inches of normal thickness and then the rest of the ‘length’ was three dying strands. I was mortified and the only way out was to cut my hair as short as possible to help with the regrowth. So that’s what I did.
Helene in 2018, one year after she stopped breastfeeding
“After my second child, my hair was so short and straw-like that I was afraid I might lose it all. This is when I started doing a lot of research about curly hair care. The fear of going bald made me determined to find a way to make my hair as healthy as possible. It took me more than another year to make the decision to stop bleaching. I had another big cut and I finally entered the whole curly adventure of following a curly hair routine around June 2020. I just wish I hadn’t waited to have post-partum hair loss before taking the plunge.”
What was your experience with postpartum hair changes? Share your advice in the comments below.