Postpartum hair loss is another one of the hush, hush secrets that people never talk about to pregnant women. Why we keep all these things hidden, yet people opening discuss the 'horror' of child birth, God only knows. Surely it’s better for a woman to be prepared for; not only the fourth trimester, but what happens after that....
I’d completely forgotten about the hair loss that occurs around month 3/4 after having your baby and it really took me by surprise this time around. One day I was merrily having a rare shower alone and as I washed my hair clumps of it were coming away in my hands. Not the odd hair we’re used to seeing flow down the plug hole I’m talking fist fulls.
So, why does this happen after months of lustrous full locks during pregnancy? And what can we do to help retain the hair and then tame the baby hairs that grow afterwards? I spoke to a couple experts to get the facts and top tips to help us mums out.
Stephanie Ooi aka @the_gp_mum gave me the medical background....
Almost every mum I know has experienced the dreaded hair fallout after their baby is born! I used to refer to it as my “tufts” but the technical term is Telogen Effluvium!
It’s normal to shed anything from 30-150 hairs from our scalp on a daily basis. Hair should regrow automatically, so that the number of hairs on our head remains constant. Each hair goes through a growing phase and shedding phase. Normally 10% of the hair is in the shedding phase but in telogen effluvium it increases to 30% or more. Childbirth can trigger this as well as emotional stress, marked weight loss or introduction of a new medication. During pregnancy Oestrogen levels increase, this can prolong the growth phase of the hair meaning it doesn't fall out as often. The hair loss bit comes after you’ve given birth, as your hormones revert to normal and the hair that was supposed to fall out, but didn’t, comes out all at once.
In general no treatment is required as hair begins to grow back gradually. It can take a while though - the shedding phase can last up to 100 days before the hair goes back into the growing phase. There are a few treatments that claim to help such as Regaine for women however there are no specific medications used by specialists.
For many, like me, it’s not even the hair loss that’s the worst (though this is emotionally upsetting) and some women say it gives them bold patches, but once the hair loss slows down the pain in the butt is the baby hair regrowth, mainly around your hairline. Ending up with as Steph mentioned 'tuffs' of hair that are so unruly.
So even if there isn’t a magic pill, what can we do to make our hair look better during this few months of loss and then regrowth?
Wonder mum and hair stylist Beckie aka @lifeofbeckie gave me her top tips on how to make your hair look the best you can.
"All I could say is that I’m honestly surprised at how many women say to me “I’m really worried! My hair is dropping like crazy, handfuls of it” and I say “have you had a baby recently?” And they’re always so shocked when I say it’s just something that happens postpartum! I wish there was more postpartum advice out there, hair loss is such a common thing that happens and it can really scare some women! "
1) Make sure you are taking hair, skin and nail tablets to ensure you have the vitamins on board to help your hair grow, such as Viviscal supplements.
2) Plait hair before bed as this will help to reduce the amount of hair loss while you sleep
3) Buy a silk pillowcase to prevent hair snapping and jump on the fashion trend of silk scrunches - we need to keep all the hair we can at this stage of PP
4) A good thickening shampoo and conditioner can help to add volume to the hair you have left, then a smoothing treatment to calm those hairline baby hairs as they regrow
5) Have a good cut, you need some me time after having a baby and this is a great excuse, but keeping your hair healthy and manageable is really useful. Lots of mums, like Jemma decide to go for the chop as it almost feels like a fresh start
A couple of other tricks I've picked up along the way include one that Thisismothership shared and I now swear by.... using an old mascara wand (or you can buy disposable ones from Look Fantastic), pop a bit of water on it and then brush down your fly away baby hairs... It really works! I then pop a bit of hair spray on my fingers and smooth over the worst offenders to keep them down.
The other thing that I started to do was really pay attention to what I was putting on my hair, out went the cheaper shampoos and in came Kerastase, I used the strengthen and repair range (blue one) opting for resistance bain shampoo and alternating the volumfique and resistance foundant conditioners. Once a week I always use a hair masque and have fallen for the Lowengrip one which was sent to me as a gift, but it smells amazing and my hair is really glossy afterwards.
Then if all else fails, go for the chop. As Beckie said it's a great fresh start and I'm loving my new shorter locks too.