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My baby just turned 4 months old a few days ago and there's so much to celebrate being a new mom - he's almost sleeping through the night, he's laughing, he can hold his little head up, he loves having conversations with Grandma and Grandpa and so much more!
BUT....Mama started losing so much hair recently :(
I was trying so hard not to freak out because I normally shed a lot (ask my old roommate Megan lol) because I have long and thick hair, but this has been next level. Now, I find my hair literally everywhere (including in baby's crib) and my hair is noticeably lighter and less voluminous than usual.
Like most women, my hair isn't just my hair - it's an accessory to my look and a part of my self-expression. That being said, I couldn't help it and I started freaking out because it's just so much hair (see dramatic video below).
So, I went into a deep rabbit hole into the world of Google search as we most do when we're experiencing something out of the usual.
Below are my summary of findings to hopefully help out any other Mamas that may also be experiencing postpartum hair loss and freaking out just like I was.
Telogen Effluvium AKA Postpartum Hair Loss
Telogen Effing what?
Telogen Effluvium is the medical term for postpartum hair loss and the excessive hair shedding that occurs about 1 to 5 months after you deliver your little one.
PSA: Be Aware of Hair Tangling on Your Baby
Before I dive deeper into the why's, how's, etc. I wanted to point this out because baby is the most important after all.
Please be very aware that if you have long hair, strands of your hair will most likely end up tightly wrapped around your baby's fingers, toes, wrists, ankles, and penis (this is called hair tourniquet).
This can cause baby pain and he or she is crying for no apparent reason, make sure to check for this and remove any hair strands.
OK, back to regularly scheduled programming...
How Common is Hair Loss After Pregnancy?
Very common, actually.
Postpartum hair loss occurs in 40-50% of new Mama's.
What Causes Postpartum Hair Loss?
It's all about your natural hair growth cycle and how, guess what, hormones impact this. SHOCKER.
Our hair has different phases in the hair growth cycle and our follicles don't always actively produce hair.
The entire hair growth cycle can last two years or longer and our hair follicles will often rest for about 2 months before ramping up to grow again.
While you're pregnant, an increase in the the almighty Estrogen will tell hair follicles to shut down for a while and therefore you shed a lot less hair during this time (remember those amazing hair days you had while you were carrying your cute belly around - THIS IS WHY!)
We normally experience shed between 50 and 100 hairs each day, but this is delayed while you're prego.
After you deliver your little one, your estrogen levels normalize and this causes your hair to start shedding - A LOT.
How Long Does Postpartum Hair Loss Last?
Like most hormonal changes effects you experienced during your pregnancy (and after), hair loss after pregnancy is temporary. Postpartum hair loss peaks at about 3 - 4 months after you delivery your little one.
In fact, dermatologists don't even refer to this as postpartum hair loss, but instead call it "excessive hair shedding after pregnancy."
Typically, your hair returns to a normal amount of shedding around 6 to 12 months after delivery, which means you will be back to having awesome hair days right in time for your baby's 1st birthday photos :)
Does Breastfeeding Have Anything to do with Postpartum Hair Loss?
Although breastfeeding can also affect Estrogen levels, Mama's who nurse do not lose any more or less hair than Mama's that don't, according to various sources.
There may be a change in your hair shedding pattern once your baby weens off breastfeeding later on so do keep that in mind, but again, this will be temporary.
How Can I Reduce Hair Loss After Pregnancy?
There are few things that can help you reduce the amount of hair loss after pregnancy, but not completely stop it, because again, the almighty Estrogen. You will likely see the impact of doing these things once your hair growth cycle returns to normal.
Here are a number of things you can do to give you a little bit of peace of mind regarding your precious hair. After all, you already have a gazillion new things to worry about with your new baby.
Eat a diet high in beauty nutrients:
- Healthy proteins - eggs and fish
- Omega 3's - tuna, trout or wild salmon.
- Vitamin B – fruits, veggies, beans, chicken or turkey breast.
- Biotin - eggs, almonds, nuts, legumes and whole grains.
- Vitamin C - strawberries, citrus fruits, papaya and more.
- Zinc - spinach, nuts and chickpeas.
- Vitamin D - tuna, salmon and egg yolk.
Wash your hair less.
Use shampoo your about 3 times a week. Shampoo and conditioner should be sulfate free. Use a wide-toothed comb to help reduce tangled hair.
See if you can find a shampoo and conditioner that contains biotin.
Avoid tight hair do-s.
Trust and believe this one is super true. Having long hair, I usually wear a high bun to avoid getting baby drool or spit up on it, but I have had to avoid this now.
Not only did I see a lot of hair caught in the hair tie, but the pressure from it was making my scalp more sensitive than usual. I started using a hair clip instead to keep hair out of my face and away from baby.
Wearing your hair loose also allows it to breathe and contributes to healthy hair growth.
Avoid chemical treatments for now.
Chemical treatments can have a negative impact on your hair growth in general, so try to stay away from these until your hair growth cycle normalizes.
Avoid heat damage.
Try to avoid hair dryers, curling wands, curling irons, etc. If you must style your hair with these, try to use a lower temperature setting.
Massage your scalp.
Massaging your scalp can improve the blood circulation in your scalp. Try to do this using your favorite natural hair oil for 5-10 minutes per day and while shampooing.
Use coconut oil as an overnight hair mask.
Apply coconut oil to your hair before going to sleep and put a shower cap on. In the morning, wash the oil off your hair.
This an important one for your health overall, ALWAYS!
Take a few minutes out of your day to relax and ease all the stress you're carrying around on your shoulders with having a new baby or being a new mom for the first time.
I know, I know, who the hell has time for that?
I certainly feel like I never do, but, we have to remember, the better Mama feels, the better Mama's we can be for our little ones in the long run, so it's definitely a win-win.
Hope this has helped any new Mama's out there that are experiencing postpartum hair loss. I'd love to hear about your excessive hair shedding and I'm sure other Mama's would too so they know they're not alone in all of this :) Leave a comment below.