What To Do When Postpartum Hair Loss Won’t Let Up
*Disclaimer: The Latched Mama Blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
There’s plenty to be enjoyed when you’re expecting. The bubbling nausea that lingers all day. That lightning bolt sensation that shoots up your bottom when you stand too quickly. The varicose veins that delicately lace up your legs. Oh wait; those are all the things I didn’t like.
Let’s face it, not every woman enjoys everything about pregnancy, but almost every pregnant woman enjoys having good hair. Thanks to the hormonal cocktail that courses through a gestating woman’s body, the growing (anagen) phase of the hair follicles is significantly prolonged. The result? Hair that rivals one of a silky Spanish stallion.
Over the nine-month period of pregnancy (or ten- you know who you are), we become spoiled by this heavenly head of hair. It becomes our new normal. We take it for granted, forgetting that we haven’t always looked like season six, Rachel Green. Until, of course, it all starts falling out.
Fast forward to 3-6 months postpartum. You’re standing in the shower, hands covered in what you would imagine would be the result of giving Chewbacca a vigorous backrub. Fallen hairs are entwined throughout your fingers, rapidly departing your head with every stroke of your hands. “Am I going bald? Do I have the head shape to pull that off?” you ask yourself, panicked.
First off, no, you’re probably not going bald. Postpartum hair loss is a common phenomenon, where sudden hormonal changes shock a substantial portion of your follicles into the shedding (telogen) phase. Typically, this bout of rapid, diffuse hair loss lasts for several months, followed by a complete recovery to your once receding hairline. Sometimes, however, telogen effluvium can become chronic or unmask other forms of hereditary hair loss.
After experiencing hair loss for an extended period of time, you might soon become tempted to start throwing money at every silica supplement and growth-promising potion you see. Instead of taking out a second mortgage for products like Monat, consider checking-in with your doctor to investigate if any internal causes are contributing to your chronic shedding. The following tests are just suggestions based off anecdotal experience. As with any medical condition, please follow your doctor’s lead in addition to advocating for yourself.
Thyroid changes are common postpartum, and hair loss is one of the identifying traits of an under-active thyroid. Ask your doctor to do a full thyroid panel and check your TSH to ensure that this pivotal gland is functioning properly.
Iron and Ferritin
Because women lose a lot of blood during childbirth, it’s not uncommon for women to develop varying degrees of iron deficiency anemia postpartum. Be sure to order not only a serum iron test but also your serum ferritin, which reflects the amount of stored iron in the body. Iron deficiency is typically treated through supplementation, or in critical cases, iron transfusions.
Almost everyone lacks optimal levels of this vital vitamin, especially during the winter months. Thankfully, this is a problem that can be easily remedied with sunlight and supplementation, so don’t stress if your levels come back low.
It’s no surprise that pregnancy can leave your hormones a little out of whack, but did you know that unbalanced hormones can also lead to hair loss? While hormonal imbalances often work themselves out postpartum, it can’t hurt to have your doctor check your levels, especially if you are experiencing other strange symptoms such as increased facial hair or irregular periods.
If your blood-work all comes back normal, but you’re still convinced your hair loss is something beyond a standard postpartum symptom, it might be time to get a referral to a dermatologist. If your derm suspects something is up, they might suggest a scalp biopsy, which can identify other causes of hair loss such as androgenetic alopecia or seborrheic dermatitis.
Best case scenario? Your hair grows back in a frizzy, untamable fury, temporarily resembling the self-trimmed bangs, you immediately regretted in high-school. Worst case scenario? You rock a wig for a while. As a wise woman with lousy hair once said: “You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it!”
*Content from The Latched Mama Blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding and entertainment only; with experiences shared from Mom to Mom. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.