As I get out of the shower and look back at the drain, there is enough hair left behind to weave a wig. Long strands end up wrapped around my baby’s fingers and toes. Somehow they even get caught in the chubby little rolls of his legs. Postpartum hair loss. So real. So annoying.
This phenomenon, like so many other changes to our bodies, starts in pregnancy. Normally, our hair goes through growth and shedding phases on a daily, monthly, and annual basis. The shifts in hormones during pregnancy cause a perpetual growth phase with minimal shedding phases, which is why our hair often looks shiny and luxurious during pregnancy. Then comes baby. Hormones shift again. This time, the shedding phase resumes, but by now, we’ve accumulated months of hair growth and all that extra hair decides it has made its home on your head for long enough and it’s time to drop. Onto the floor. Onto the back of your sweater. Stuck in your hairbrush. Embedded into the rug. You get it. Scientifically speaking, this process is called telogen effluvium. Most women notice this shift in hair loss happen around the 3-month post-partum mark.
Thankfully, it doesn’t last forever. For most, extreme hair shedding usually lasts 3-6 months, but it can last up to a year. You won’t go bald (although it may feel like it). Hair loss after giving birth is totally normal, but if you are noticing extreme hair loss or are unsure what is considered normal versus abnormal, you can talk to your doctor about checking for thyroid conditions.
You can’t stop it, but you can help yourself by making sure you are eating well, with plenty of protein and iron. You can mask the thinning with different hair styles by adding texture and layers of length—ask your stylist for ideas. And remember, it’s just a phase and it will return to normal soon.