Ugh... Postpartum Hair Shed

Damn! Damn! Damn! *in my best Martin voice*

And so it begins. But I'm okay. I'm not spazzing. I'm breathing... centered.
Trying to hold it together, but Knights of Columbus, this is a butt load of hair! The pic above, while grossly graphic, barely does it justice.

I was in denial at first-- managed to convince myself that it doesn't happen to everyone, so of course it wouldn't happen to me, a friggin' hair blogger, right? Wrong.


There are tufts of hair billowing across the hardwood, what appears to be ropes of my hair blocking the shower drain, stray strands on the sink, on Gia, on my shirt, the head rest in the car... hair everywhere! My dreams of lush volume and thickness... down the drain. Oh, and what isn't falling naturally, Baby G is having a grand time ripping from my scalp. But it's cool... I'm good. I'm collecting all of it to make myself a nice wig.



A while back I gave AfrikanLatina some advice (which I now need to take myself) about dealing with Postpartum hair shed, aka telogen effluvium. It's very common and often happens 3-6 months after a stressful event, or in my case, delivering nearly an 8 pound baby.

During pregnancy, hair that is in the resting phase is pushed into the growth phase. This is why my hair was so lush. It became so thick that I stopped henna'ing (I henna for volume... plus I've grown lazy). After delivery, 3 months later, these hairs go back into the resting phase and fall out. Basically, I'm playing catch up by shedding what isn't really mine to keep anymore. How dreadful. There isn't much I can do to stop or slow it down, other than trying not to stress about it too much. And from what I've read, re-growth begins in the next 6 months to a year... which should help me get back to pre-preggers thickness. So far, I haven't noticed any thinning or bald spots, but at this rate, I'll be rockin' a comb-over by Christmas.

Ugh. I wanted so badly to keep my pregnancy hair. I've had fanciful thoughts of wearing buns and other protective styles for the next few months, just to hold on to, even if just for a short while, the hairs that would inevitably fall. Silly rabbit.

How I plan to proceed:

-Low manipulation styles, and less frequent styling. Bi-weekly washings (with dry Twist-n-Curl sets in the meantime) seem to be working. I still owe you guys an updated hair regimen.

-Wear protective styles that are friendly to my delicate edges (loose buns and twists as opposed to slick, tight buns and braids).

-Continue to opt for twist and braid-outs over wash-n-gos for the illusion of volume (due to less shrinkage)

-Focus on moisture and retention, and avoid harsh stylers


-Use castor oil--it's known to promote hair growth and thicken up the hair line


-Scalp massages to stimulate growth
... Hubby?

-Continue taking my prenatals

-Attempt to keep Baby G's (and hubby's) hands out of my curls

-Commence henna sessions after the shedding period has ended (the process of henna'ing could actually exacerbate the shedding)

-Lots and lots of patience, positive self-talk, and knowing that 'this too shall pass'!




I washed and styled on November 26th... I was leaving for STL to see Grandma. I wore it out for 2 days and bunned it until yesterday. I did a dry Twist-n-Curl last night around 8pm using CURLS Souffle and a teeny bit of water. Fluffed with Philip B Formula 57 Hair Serum this morn.



Did you experience hair fall post-pregnancy? How did you deal with it?

Please share your stories and tips on how to cope with post-pregnancy hair loss!

50 Weigh in!:
Sulan said...

Hi Nikki! I truly feel for you. I've experienced the dreaded post partum shedding three times, each time worse than the other. It is scary to see all your hair on the bathroom floor. My normally thick hair got noticeably thinner. I'm here to tell you that it will return to pre-pregnancy volume.

I think you have a good plan going forward. Some say that garlic helps. However, I really believe that this kind of shedding is inevitable. You are only losing hair that your body held on to for nine months; notice how our hair hardly sheds during pregnancy? Your hair will be just fine.

CURLYNIKKI said...

my hair stopped shedding about 5 months into the pregnancy. Then I resumed normal shedding a few weeks before delivery. I just knew that I wouldn't get the pp shedding too bad... since I had resumed normal shedding already. Oh well. I hope it stops soon. In the meantime, I'm gonna go get a glass of wine.

Sulan said...

Perhaps it will not be as bad. Just know that your hair will bounce back within a few months. I know that you're practicing low manipulation but be diligent about removing those shed hairs. I know that I don't have to tell you that those single strand knots are a nuisance.

CURLYNIKKI said...

the dry sets seem to be good for that... my hair, since it is very stretched is falling freely...maybe it looks like more than it is because the strands are usually shorter, curlier, and stuck in the tangled mass? Whatever the case, I'm loosing loads of hair!

Sulan said...

Nikki,
You are gorgeous! Your hair is gorgeous and it will remain so. Stop worrying. Enjoy that glass of wine and give that little angel of yours a big kiss from me. She's absolutely beautiful!:-)

apaine said...

hey nikki! try some aloe vera gel with your castor oil and scalp massages. it's been said to stop or slow hair fall/shedding.

CURLYNIKKI said...

thanks Sulan! I just finished pumping and G's got milk to last till morn... off to get that glass of shiraz! Baby G says hi :)

Thanks apaine! I'll check into that!

Exhale1913 said...

Boy oh boy did I experience post partum shedding (I have some pics in my Curl Street Journal that I have since abandoned) Like the first commenter, I had it not only 3 times in a row, but three years in a row (Yes, I had a baby Jan 07, Jun 08, and Dec 09) All three times it. Initially, I couldn't really tell where the hair was coming from, and while it seemed to come from all over, it was most noticeable around my edges. I pretty much wore protective styles and tried to camouflage as much as possible. All three times, it started growing back when my baby turned 6 months old. The first two times, I was pregnant by the time my baby was 8 and 9 months old, so I appeared to recover quickly. This time my baby just turned one, and while my hair has thickened up, it's not back 100%. Not to mention, that I'm facing a MAJOR trim (planning to do later this month) because while it's thickening up at the roots, my ends are thinner as a result of the hairs that didn't shed. The only other recommendation that I have, because you are breastfeeding like I am, is that you check your iron levels. In addition to continuing my prenatals, I had to continue taking my iron pills as well, and make sure that you a well balanced nutritional diet, as well ensure that you are eating enough calories to support breastfeeding. Oh yeah, and I used a mix of regular and JB castor oil....

CURLYNIKKI said...

argh! I forgot about my iron pills... totally. I need to pick some up. Thanks!!!

Exhale1913 said...

Let's try this again (just saw all of my typos) (Hey, I have a 3 yo, 2yo, and 1yo - don't judge me!)Boy oh boy did I experience postpartum shedding (I have some pics in my Curl Street Journal that I have since abandoned) Like the first commenter, I had it not only 3 times, but three years in a row (Yes, I had a baby Jan 07, Jun 08, and Dec 09) All three times I shedded. Initially, I couldn't really tell where the hair was coming from, and while it seemed to come from all over, it was most noticeable around my edges. I pretty much wore protective styles and tried to camouflage as much as possible. All three times, it started growing back when my baby turned 6 months old. The first two times, I was pregnant by the time my baby was 8 and 9 months old, so I appeared to recover quickly. This time my baby just turned one, and while my hair has thickened up, it's not back 100%. Not to mention, that I'm facing a MAJOR trim (planning to do later this month) because while it's thickening up at the roots, my ends are thinner as a result of the hairs that didn't shed. The only other recommendation that I have, because you are breastfeeding like I am, is that you check your iron levels. In addition to continuing my prenatals, I had to continue taking my iron pills as well, and make sure that you eat a well balanced nutritional diet, as well ensure that you are eating enough calories to support breastfeeding. Oh yeah, and I used a mix of regular and JB castor oil....

Anonymous said...

Nikki, I sent you a pic of a hair ball that big and I've never had a baby!!! I have no advice as I have no experiences to share, but your hair is gorgeous, you're gorgeous and you would still be the envy of many a curly with half the hair on your head;-).

Shelli

Anonymous said...

Oh, and don't you mean your "best Florida Evans voice?" Wait, did I just show my age?? LOL!

Shelli

Momma Bella said...

How the grass is always greener. My little one is 8 weeks old and I'm praying for the postpartum shed to start. My hair was already too voluminous to try half the styles I wanted so pregnancy left me with two options: twists that take forever because of density and puffs that tangle easily. Trade ya!

LaToya said...

Well your hair looks thick and lush as ever. I'd never know if you didn't mention it. Hope your regimen helps to slow down the shedding though. Good luck!!

Shakirah said...

Omg omg omg! Was my initial reaction. I didn't get shedding, i ended up losing all the hair around my forehead unbeknownst to myself as I didn't find any stray strands on my pillow or anywhere else. It wasn't til it started growing back that i noticed. I was thinking "why is my hairline growing toward my eyes??" Smh. And then the hair there is lighter than the rest of the hair on my head, so it's this funky red from the henna! It's like I'm always wearing a head band! Lol so yeah nikki, i feel you. But YOUR hair looks amazing still. :)

Kulem said...

I went through this... After my baby girl was born I had major shedding!!! That's something I expected, what I didn't expect was how bad my hair broke off it was horrible. I attributed this to the lack of moisture in my whole body because of breastfeeding. I don't think that I drank enough water. This affected my hair and other areas... Drink lots of water!!! That's the best thing for your dehydrated body and hair. In the end I had to go get 2 inches cut off of my hair. The crown of my head still feels ruff he didn't take off as much ther be ause it had broken off very bad there.

Latoya said...

Nikki... I'm so sorry about your hair shedding. I'm sure your hair will be fine since you take such good care of your hair.

I'm about to 18 weeks and I dread postpartum shedding (along with stetch marks, swelling, childbirth etc. etc.) Since I BC'd, I'm enjoying the fact that my hair stays in the growth phase. But I will likely be on CurlyNikki searching for support :-)

But again...I'm sure you'll be fine. Your regimen seems like a good plan.

Anonymous said...

Ummm, dont slap me, but you could just get pregnant again and throw your hair back into the growth phase. LOL!!

We love you Nik! Hang in there, girl! Go easy and everything will be alright!

Thinice said...

DAMN that is a lot of hair!!! My little one is 3 weeks old, so I will be watching your updates closely to see if I can glean from your experience (sorry).

THE GLAM GARAGE said...

Awww, i honestly didn't think you would experience any...I started sheding when she was 5 months and did for about 3-4 weeks (only did weekly washes) that's the only reason I know. Baby girl is 6 months now, so I think I'm done. Only my edges took a toll, and I'm still suffering. They are growing back slowly and ANGRILY! Sticking straight up, nothing can lay these babies down. The only thing saving my life is goody ouchless headbands.

Anonymous said...

grrrr!

I'm pregnant with my second and I'm NOT looking forward to this at all! I didn't have to go through it with my first (with 2 1/2 now) because I had locs. I did notice, as I retwisted, that they were thinner for a while, but I didn't have to deal with seeing my hair actually come out.
ugg!

Anonymous said...

Is it bad that I lose a little bit more hair than you have in your hand each week when I detangle? I'm not pregnant and I've never had a child.

arose4autumn said...

Hi Nikki! Congrats on your new baby girl she is so adorable. My son is 19 weeks old and I started noticing breakage (which I thought was a lil' shedding) when he was 3 months old. I also breastfead and drink lots of water hoping to moisturize from within but I guess only time will heal it. Washing my hair has become so depressing with all the hair left behind in my sink. I definitely feel your pain and I too have began my protective styling.

At first I couldn't see where the hair was breaking at but over those few weeks my hair line has disappeared (tears drop). I'm so happy you shared this issue with us, at least I know I'm not alone. I washed my hair this weekend and was going to send you a picture to see if you were experiencing the same problem but after I took the picture, I felt it didn't do any justice to what had fallen out....smh I'm looking forward to the next few months of recovery. :-)

am said...

its definitely normal for hair to shed; looking at it only makes you feel worse. the key is to moisturize and take care of yourself. after baby # 4, which was a late in life baby - my hair grew, but it didnt shed as much and the texture changed. figured it was hormone related. once the prenatals are done, just take a regular multivitamin and fish oil capsules. since i've been taking fish oil my hair does not shed as much. ps - your baby is beautiful as are you!

Afrolicious said...

They say black tea rinse are good to slow down shedding. Sorry don't have any kids though to give input.

Anonymous said...

Wow everytime I say "we are going through the same thing" and have wanted to post...THIS DOES IT!!! Nikki...YOU ARE THE BEST...along with great conversations about natural hair in the "ethnic" sections at Target...I swear to people that your web site is the best thing since the Bible...wish I could open that book more than I log on to check out whats new. OK see this is why the post never makes it. So anyway I want to simply say THANK YOU. Our girls are the same in age however I had a condition called placenta percrita and delivered at 7 months...my 2 pound princess is now a major 12 pounds!! Now back to my thanks to you...just yesterday I washed my hair...I am loving the SheaMoisture line so far. I had the same gremlin ball in my hand!! I freaked until I think some of it was pulled out during my freak out. Thank you for all that you do...I should start working in my love for Jesus to people along with guiding them to your site...LOL ok bad joke but the world is talking about how great you are!! LOVE YA!! I will draw myseld closer soon...but this is my 3rd and FINAL girl so I have way too many heads to comb...but for the Lord and you I will make time :-)

Afrikan Latina said...

I so need to do an update on how my hair is doing now. I haven't even been in the forums like I used to...Anyway, as much as PPS sucks our little ones are worth every shed hair. Your hair looks fabulous despite the PPS. I would never know you were experiencing it. My mother has a semi-weak hairline as well so I guess part of why mine was so drastic is genetic. My hair has always been finer around my hairline.

Taj is now 16 months and my edges still aren't back to their pre pregnancy fullness and I'm not sure that they ever will be... BUT they are certainly in much better shape than when I came to you and the curly readers for advice all those months ago.I can do my beloved flat twists again {{insert happy dance}}. I'll email you an update, what I did that I believe helped in my progress, and pictures of my edges before and after soon. :)

PS. I think every hair I lost ended up on my pumpkins head.

Califabulous said...

wow. I know how you feel....well sorta. I have no kids to show for my hair loss but I know stress is the culprit! I have been tracking my loss with pics too. THAT IS A HELL OF A HAIRBALL but your hair is beautiful as ever. AND baby or not, I am going to use your tips so, thanks for sharing your traumatic experience to help a curly sister like me. smoochi.

Anonymous said...

Awww, "Damn, Damn, Damn" (in my best Florida Evans voice, from Good Times! No, not James Evans, no James, noooooo..err..getting sidetracked, too much insomnia & TV Land)!

It'll be okay CurlyN, my sister lost the majority of her hairline & quite a lot in the center of her head too! She was all ready to call that hair restoration infomercial number. Wish I had picks but she destroyed them all. She decided to big chop & now 2 1/2 years later, has a BAA (big a** afro). She didn't use anything special, just dranks tons of water & moisturized like crazy. I think her hair loss was a combination of stress & pregnancy. I think some cases are extreme & some aren't. I think you'll be fine. My sister, however, says my nephew will NOT have a sibling, lol.

~~~Azura~~~~

Veronica said...

I was going to do my next video on youtube about this...now I'm not going to do it because I dont want to seem like a biter..lol Oh well.

postpartum shedding! i HATED it. Mine didnt start until 9 months after i had my son...my hairline and my temples were nearly bald by the time it was all said an done.

Low manipulation and all that didn't help. I could turn my head and the next thing I know I'd have 6 strand of hair resting on my shoulder. I could just run my hand OVER my head (not through my hair) and look at my hand. There would be 4-5 hairs just chillin' in my hand. LOL!

What a dreadful time. But it does pass and the hair does fill back in!

good Luck Nik!

Vee

www.pretty-girl-rock.com

CURLYNIKKI said...

awwww! Thanks ladies for letting me vent, for sharing your stories, advice, and your sweet compliments! I hope my experience will be mild and come to an end soon!

Anon7:43, don't make me hurt you ;) Not yet, Lawd, not yet!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nikki!
I'm a mom of a 3yo and a 15mo. I never noticed the shedding as much with my 3yo as i did with the 15mo. I was in tears for a while (hair was thinning beyond belief!)and even went to the doctor to get my thyroid checked. It was just postpartum shedding.
Thanks to your blog I have learned to love and take care of my hair. I still experience a bit of shedding, but nothing like 9 months ago. Right before Thanksgiving I went and got about 1 1/2 inches cut off. It feels so much healthier now.
Just hang in there.Your hair is beautiful! The shedding will stop soon. Try to relax and enjoy a glass of shiraz from time to time. ;-) I know that's easier said than done, but it works. Thanks for sharing this with us.

BrownLady said...

Hey Nikki,
The best thing you can do is "DON'T SWEAT" I'm going through post partum hair shed right now also! My baby boy is 4 Months! This is my second go around. At first I tried to make believe that my mind was playing tricks on me and it wasn't really happening. Then all of a sudden my temples just basically disappeared. I'm just looking forward to this thing turning around by month six. You will be fine! You are not alone! This is just one of the many joys of motherhood!!!!!

Dolorese said...

The whole side of my hair fell out after I had my baby. I was basically bald on my side edges. I thought it wasn't noticeable until a crazy lady (she was really crazy) came to my job and said, referring to me, " I don't want to talk to her, she's bald" lol. But since than, my hair has grown back. it's been 2 years and it's not all even in the front, but it's back so I'm thankful for that. Nikki I think it's great that you are going through this because you will be even more of a Role Model for the natural community having been in this situation because it's can be a really tuff situation for some woman. I was upset about it at first, but I just accepted it and before I knew it, my hair was back.

Judith said...

I tried researching this (less than 5 mins though), and only came up with one post saying it was helpful on longhaircommunity--and I know that herbs are things you need to be careful with while breastfeeding--but what about topical oils like alma, brahmi, bringhraj?
http://archive.longhaircommunity.com/archive/index.php/t-56913.html
violetflower's post specifically (although i did not read through them all).
I think shedding is inevitable and I pray my attitude is as good as yours when I go through it, but I couldn't help but remember alma when reading this post. Maybe you've already considered and dismissed it though.

Anonymous said...

I think post-partum shed around 4 months after I had my little boy. I was still getting relaxers. It felt like I was shedding all over the baby and my hair was all over the floor and I totally was not digging the idea of the baby crawling all over a hairy floor! This prompted me to start transitioning. Plus, I felt I couldn't tell my kids to embrace their hair while I was still getting relaxers. Post-partum shedding = a blessing in disguise for me :-)

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous hair Nikki! You are so beautiful, i love the face pics *heart*

Anonymous said...

I've been there and like you said, it'll be over b4 you know it. You look amazing!

Ms. Overproof said...

First I cried, (but I think that was mostly due to postpartum depression) then I got right on the internet and started doing my research, that is how I discovered amla treatments. It seems to be doing the trick to giving me much fuller hair. I wear more protective styling, laid off heat and gel for a while and I am not actually seeing a bit of hair rejuevenation. My little on is 4mths now and he can grab and pull. Trying to pull out the little remaining, hes on side-eye (dont judge me people, babies get side-eyes too)

CURLYNIKKI said...

thanks ladies!!! lol @ side eye for baby, I feel you :)

Anonymous said...

Don' worry. Your hair gets thicker when you are pregnant and that post-partum shedding just kinda brings it back to normal. It'll seem thinner to you because you've gotten used to your luxuriously thick pregnancy hair. I have 2 babies...a 2 year old and a 1 year old, so I've been through this. Your hair will be fine :-)

Gina said...

Hi Nikki!
After going through it with all 4 of my children, I know exactly what you're going through and how you feel. You have some great plans so far. In addition to that, stick to the current products you're using now for your hair since changing it may irritate your scalp, because of the fluctuation of hormones still going on in your body, leading to more hair loss. Also, don't stress about hair loss because it only leads to more hair loss, and add cod liver oil gel capsules to your prenatal vitamins because they aid in a healthy moisturized scalp promoting hair growth --not to mention that cod liver oil makes your hair and skin shiny.
(Note: If you don't already do so, you may want to consider taking prenatals that are not hard tablets but rather soft/gel capsules. The body will absorb more than approximately 40% of the nutrients from a vitamin of this kind, versus the less than 25% amount the body absorbs from a hard tablet vitamin.)

The hair loss will only last a short time, it'll be over before you know it. And your hair will continue to remain beautiful!!
Besides you have other important things to handle ... like the busyness of being a new mom. :-)

Favored said...

Girl, the same exact thing happened to me in both of my last pregnancies... And I am pregnant again. But that's another story... I just did the same thing you plan to do... LOW Manipulation and I also added a daily vitamin (actually extra pre-natals) to my routine. It'll get better.

Ksharee' said...

I had it with both of my pregnancies. However it was not as bad with this last one. I started Amla treatments before he was born and continued it after. I still shed but I did not have bald spot like I did with the first baby. He will be a yr in Jan and I recently flat ironed and can tell where I'm still not as thick as it used to be. (I've also slacked on the upkeep with a 3 yr old and a 11 month old). It does get better so stay encouraged.

Honeysmoke said...

remember, it's hair you would have lost if you hadn't been preggers. it just seems like a lot all at once.

Anonymous said...

That's nowhere near as much hair as I lost after my son was born. My edges were nonexistant. I kept all the hair I loss until he was 6 months just so I could guage how much I really lost. I had enough to make a wig. At around 7 months postpartum, it stopped. Be gentle and just wait it out.

EbonyPearl said...

OMG - I sure did experience postpartum shedding and I had to get to the point where I'd say to myself 'don't stare in the mirror, just accept it." When I look at photos of myself with my then new baby, I can't believe how my hair broke off, but it came back full force when my son was about 9 months old, and then I got back to my Freddie from 'A Different World' look. I wonder if continuing to take prenatal supplements will help fight postpartum shedding. Anyone know?

EbonyPearl said...

I see Exhale1913 wrote about continuing the prenatal pills. Now I know because I was shocked when I went thru it!

chichichick said...

Nikki, your hair still looks beautiful although I know its probably a little daunting. I just wanted to say that my hair sheds that much or more if I wait 10-14 days to wash and de-tangle. I always wonder if its too much but I have no comparisons! good luck!

Wendy said...

I would like to know if there is anyone over 40 yoa that read these blogs. I've been natural for a little more than three years. I stopped relaxing because my hair began thinning. Now at 50 and completely natural I still find that my hair shed a lot. I often get compliments on my hair, but you ladies know, we know our hair, and my hair is not as thick as it used to be. I don't know some are of the opinion that long hair is not for women over 40 anyway. What are your thoughts???

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...