Taking a shower as a new mom is a giant accomplishment. My first baby would freak out if he wasn’t being held for the entirety of my maternity leave, or about the first few months of his life. If I wanted to shower, which sometimes became a necessity based on the type and amount of bodily fluids on me at any given time, I had to phone a friend to come hold him.
My second baby is a much calmer little dude, or I’m better at powering through his crying to meet my needs. I shower nearly every day! There are actually a lot of things that are different between the first and second child, but one I noticed very early on was the horrifying, abundant postpartum hair loss.
I have a ton of hair. Some people, like my very thin-haired mother, think I’m lucky. My friend Erin says I have “beach hair,” but really it’s just a giant, long, sometimes wavy and generally frizzy unruly mess of Jewfro that I’m way too emotionally attached to. Thank god I have this mess as my baseline.
Clumps. Just fistfuls of really noticeable, drain clogging, long, dark wads of my hair come out every time I wash it. When I brush my hair it’s more of the same – massive quantities of hair matted into the bristles.
My husband has said, “just think of it as a really expensive thinning hair do.” It’s actually good reasoning. What I do tell myself is that it’s just temporary.
Postpartum hair loss – Now you can make teeny, tiny doll wigs with your fallen clumps of hair.
Postpartum hair loss happens to all of us. I don’t care what you say – that you’re going to take some magic pills (biotin, fish oil, or whatever else you come up with from those nut jobs at Babycenter forums), that it wasn’t that bad with your first child (sorry, mine wasn’t either!) – to some extent you will experience hair loss in the months after you have your baby.
WHY? This is not Karmic retribution for when I yelled at those Firemen just trying to do their job, aka standing in between me and the bathroom. The hormonal changes our body goes through after pregnancy, specifically the plummeting estrogen, causes the hair which our body retained in our ultra-high estrogen pregnancy state to shed.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t a breastfeeding vs. formula thing either. This is just what happens when your body goes from being pregnant to being someone’s mom.
There doesn’t seem to be a magic solution to make it stop other than time, but there are some things that can help manage the fallout:
- The biggest things you can do: don’t use damaging hair products and chill with tightly-styled or heat styled hair. I know that like all new moms with ample amounts of uninterrupted time, you are obviously waking up before your baby to wash, blow-dry and hot style your hair. Take it easy on that for now.
- These specific suggestions about products are from the American Academy of Dermatology’s “Hair Loss in New Moms” page:
- Use a volumizing shampoo. These shampoos tend to contain ingredients like protein that coat the hair, making the hair appear fuller.
- Avoid any shampoo labeled “conditioning shampoo.” These contain heavy conditioners that can weigh down the hair and make it look limp.
- Use a conditioner formulated for fine hair. These contain lighter formulas that will not weigh down hair.
- Use conditioner primarily on the ends of your hair. Applying conditioner to your scalp and all of your hair tends to weigh down hair.
- Avoid conditioners labeled “intensive conditioners.” These are too heavy.
- Get a “mom hair” cut. I can’t bring myself to do this, but I have a weird emotional attachment to my hair. If you get tired of clogging your drain, this is a pretty good option.
As if you don’t have enough things to worry about in the early days, there’s a thing called a “hair tourniquet.” I used to panic about this with my first baby, because I liked to panic about everything with him. Basically, your hair will fall out and wind so tightly around the baby as to cause him to cry, and possibly need medical attention. Is this possible? Yes. But, it’s very unlikely. What’s more likely and totally horrifying is that your baby will consume your nasty-ass hair. You won’t notice until you change a poopy diaper and there’s hair in it. YOUR HAIR, and not like when it gets caught in your butt crack. This will be coming out of a baby butt with the poop. It’s a sight you can’t un-see.
Your hair will stop falling out before your baby turns one
Yes, your hair is falling out. I promise it will stop, likely before your baby turns one. Some moms report that it peaks between 4-6 months, and then tapers off before the 12-month mark. If it doesn’t stop by a year, call your doctor. She will likely recommend doing some tests to check your Thyroid, which can get wacky and cause continuing hair loss. And that’s fixable, so definitely call! But in the meantime, just try and minimize further damaging your hair, and wait.