Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Postpartum shedding... why must you exist?
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting” - Proverbs 31:30
I am not the type of person who lives by the “it’s just hair, it will grow back,” motto. I’ve never dyed my hair before. I only trim my hair a few times a year merely to help it stay healthy and I have had the same hairstyle since I was in middle school. My hair is part of my identity. It’s lighter in color and less coarse than my siblings and always been considered “good hair” for someone of color. (I know, ridiculous, but I’ve heard it my entire life). So at my 8 week post-op visit when my doctor mentioned that I may experience some postpartum shedding, I didn‘t really even listen. She tried explaining to me because my body had such high levels of hormones carrying twins, the postpartum symptoms would likely be severe. Me? No way. ”My hair is so thick I’d be happy if it thinned out a little!” I snickered. I was wrong. Very wrong.
What is postpartum shedding?
Officially called postpartum alopecia, postpartum shedding happens as a result of your body’s pregnancy hormones evening out. Pregnancy causes increased levels of estrogen and progesterone that cause hair to remain in an ongoing stage of growth. When those high hormone levels finally decrease back to normal rates, your hair rests for a few months before it enters the regrowth period, pushing out all the old hair. According to Kelly Mom, “Postpartum hair loss commonly starts at around three months after birth. The amount of time between childbirth and the onset of shedding corresponds to the length of the resting phase of hair growth (between 1 and 6 months, with an average of three months).” Roughly 50% of all mothers experience varying levels of postpartum shedding and moms of multiples can experience more severe shedding.
Am I seeing things?
Last week, I decided to go for a run and went in our bathroom to quickly throw my hair in a high ponytail before I left. As I turned to the side to leave the bathroom, I noticed a bald spot around my hairline by my temple in the mirror. I thought I was seeing things... And then as I turned to look at the other side, I realized I had another bald spot on that side as well. Prior to this night I hadn’t noticed any shedding at all. How was it possible to magically have two bald spots? Because I don’t wear my hair up very often I must not have noticed the shed slowly getting worse over time. As I examined my hairline closely, I realized my entire hairline had thinned and was misshapen... I had just been to the salon 4 days prior and even mentioned that I had not noticed any thinning of my hair yet so I must be lucky! I was 4 months postpartum and naively thought that if I had not started shedding yet, it likely wasn’t going to happen to me. I was wrong again.
I shouldn’t care, but I do...
I shouldn't care about how my hair looks... "I can’t control it, right?", "Many women go through this, right?", "It will grow back!" Wrong, I do care, and that’s okay. As mamas, especially twin mamas, we go through so much during pregnancy to have our children that it just seems unfair to then have further symptoms after your babies are here. We often invalidate our own feelings and try to minimize because "it could always be worse, right?" This postpartum shedding has caused me to be incredibly insecure about wearing my hair up.
How to manage postpartum shedding
Naturally, the first thing I did when I noticed my bald spots was text my amazing hairdresser, Nixa, pictures. She, and a bunch of other moms gave me great suggestions to help cope with the shedding and hopefully encourage quick regrowth:
Continue taking your pre-natal vitamins. I used these throughout my pregnancy and am still taking them now.
Add a hair, skin, and nail vitamin with 5,000 mcg of Biotin. I take these.
Rub Jamaican Black Castor oil on the bald spots to regenerate growth. I use this.
Drink twice your weight in oz per day of water.
Use colored fibers/sprays that can conceal the bald spots until your hair regrows. Toppik brand has worked for years for my friend.
Wear hats or headbands. Turban style headbands like these are great because they're chunky enough to cover large bald spots.
Losing your hair is hard. Really hard. It is easy to beat yourself up about feeling like you shouldn’t care about vanity, but as women, we want to look and feel our best and hair is a big part of that.
For all of you mamas out there that are currently dealing with postpartum shedding, I see you and I’m right there with you. You are not alone, even if it may feel that way. Hang in there, mama.
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