I went natural in January 2015. I remember it vividly. I was about 9 months postpartum & had a very bad experience with my last relaxer. See, I always had a sensitive scalp, but for some reason, my scalp burnt like never before, and from then on, I walked away from relaxing my hair. I big chopped and started my natural hair journey.
I devoured all the information I could on natural hair: the science, the art, followed Influencers, started with half-day wash routines, then whittled it down to two hours. Finally, I settled into my natural hair; I was now a natural hair guru. Surely after five years of being natural, you’re an expert, right? Right?
No amount of study, YouTube watching, blog reading and natural hair seminar attending could prepare me for what I went through in 2020: postpartum hair loss. One minute you’re pregnant, the next, you’re a mother, figuring out breastfeeding and waking up at night again, then three months down the line, you notice your hairline has thinned significantly. The horror.
Postpartum hair loss is quite common, probably more common than we think. When it comes to being a naturalista, our curl pattern can mask the amount of hair we’ve actually lost. I remember being in denial saying nah, it’s where I part my hair when it was actually obvious that the hair was thinner in that region than others.
So what exactly is postpartum hair loss? The proper name is telogen effluvium and describes a condition where your hair falls out after a stressful event. For a new mom, that event is childbirth. After giving birth, the hormones change dramatically to accommodate your baby, and that pushes a lot of your hair follicles into the resting phase, where they fall out at the same time, usually about 1-3 months after. So instead of the 80-100 hairs a day you normally lose, you’re now losing 300 hairs a day. Don’t panic though! The hair loss only lasts about 6-9 months, and your hair mostly does grow back.
In the meantime, here’s a few things you can do to handle the hair loss and make sure it doesn’t get worse:
Remember we said that postpartum hair loss is a stress reaction that pushes your hair follicles into the resting phase then will fall out? So if you’re constantly stressing about it, your body will be like, “more hair in the resting phase!” And more will fall out. Relax momma, it will pass.
Continue Taking Your Prenatal Vitamins
Your prenatal vitamins, besides ensuring that your breastmilk is completely nutritious for baby, helps address any deficiencies in you, which can contribute to more hair loss. The recommended amount of time you should continue is until about 6 months postpartum.
Eat Well and Drink Loads of Water
Ensure your diet has a variety of fruits and vegetables and is high in protein. Drink at least 2 liters of water. If you’re not well- hydrated, your hair will suffer because it’s considered non-essential and will not be a hydration priority.
Don’t Over-Manipulate Your Hair
This goes without saying. Our hair is delicate enough as it is. When you style it daily it will cause even more hair to fall out. Keep your hair in a loose protective style, and spritz it regularly to keep it moisturized.
Consider Other Causes
If you see the hair loss has gone on for longer than a year, or you have obvious patches in your hair, it might not be postpartum hair loss and you’ll need to consult a doctor.
Have you ever experienced postpartum hair loss? How did you manage it? Let’s have a conversation and help each other get informed. Until next time…your Quarter Wife.