postpartum hair loss + a new style

No matter how many pregnancy and parenting books you read, there are many things about being pregnant and becoming a mother that you can’t fully understand until they happen to you. You expect to gain weight over the course of nine months but are surprised by how frustrating it can feel as your clothing stretches tighter and tighter across your expanding belly. You acknowledge that it could take months or even years to get your pre-baby body back but are angry that your pooch hasn’t deflated yet. You know that some women experience postpartum hair loss but are devastated when it happens to you.

post-partum balding

In the weeks following Levi’s birth, I started losing more and more hair in the shower. My long locks were falling out by the handful, and my post-shower hairballs were the size of small rodents. Although it was annoying and a bit disgusting (strands of wet hair gross me out), I was expecting some postpartum hair loss to happen. Friends had warned me about clogged shower drains. But what they hadn’t prepared me for were visible bald patches.

I can’t remember exactly when I first noticed that my hairline was no longer symmetrical, but it might have been when I was getting my hair teased into an updo for a friend’s wedding last October. I recall complaining to the stylist about how lately I had been losing larger clumps of hair than I did before I gave birth to Levi. He explained that hair loss near the hairline was very common in new mothers and pointed out that many celeb moms get bangs after having babies to conceal these unflattering bald patches.

Because I only had time to wash my hair every couple of days, I frequently wore oversize buns and ponytails. It wasn’t until I looked at photos of myself, including ones taken at that wedding in October, that I realized the severity of my postpartum hair loss. My awkwardly receding hairline was quite the eyesore, and I became very self-conscious of it.

post-partum bald spot

post-partum bald spot

My hair is naturally wavy and frizzy, so when tiny baby hairs began growing back in they were curly and kinky. If I used the flat iron on them they stuck straight out. I hated how I looked with my hair pulled back, but I didn’t have time to style it straight every day. You know how having a bad hair day can just ruin your whole day? Well, imagine how you’d feel after having a bad hair month…or year. I was embarrassed of my reflection in the mirror. Call me vain, but I felt ugly, and my self-esteem took a beating.

Taking a cue from celebrity moms, I finally booked an appointment to get bangs. And to make those bangs easier to style, I also decided to get a Brazilian Blowout. I had a Brazilian Blowout almost two years ago and wrote the experience on my old blog, Somewhere in Middle America. Looking back at that post, I had almost forgotten how much healthier and shinier my hair appeared after the treatment.

Above is the inspiration photo I brought to the salon this past Saturday. It was from an InStyle photo shoot of an actress named Bella Heathcote, and I was immediately drawn to her thick fringe and blunt ends. Although I wasn’t ready to lose a lot of length, I was over my long layers, which were originally cut so I could style my hair curly. My hair won’t air dry completely straight now that I’ve had the treatment, but it will be a lot smoother and require less effort to straighten.

brazilian blowout after

Have a Brazilian Blowout and blunt bangs fixed all my problems? Of course not, but they did address my primary concern: the bald patches at my hairline. Now when I pull my hair back, they remain concealed under my new fringe. As a bonus, JB remarked on Sunday that I appeared to be standing taller and even seemed more confident. I haven’t styled my hair wavy yet (maybe today), and I’m eager to see how it turns out. I also have to get used to having bangs again; it’s been several years since I’ve last had fringe, and I keep wanting to push them aside rather than let them hang straight down. They also get greasier quicker than the rest of my hair, so I imagine I’ll need to wash them over the sink on the days I don’t shampoo and condition my whole head. But that’s a small annoyance to deal with for a hairstyle that not only looks good but also makes you feel better about yourself.

Have you had a similar experience with postpartum hair loss?

{Top photo taken in February; middle two photos taken in May; bottom photo taken on July 9, 2012}

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Let’s Discuss

  1. courtney @ larking.

    I like the bangs and am glad you’re feeling fly! My own breakage-at-my-hairline has been making me crazy, but I am just ignoring it because I can’t figure out what I actually want to do with my hair (aka I’m lazy and indecisive). I would kill to have naturally curly hair, actually — most of my real-life girlfriends have dark, wavy locks so I must have a “type” when I’m looking for friends :)

    • PJ

      Thank you! It took me months to decide what to do with my hair. Even after I realized that bangs would be my best solution, I waited weeks to make the appointment. Bangs are such a commitment, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for such a big change.

  2. Joy

    This is definitely something that concerns me about pregnancy/post-partum, but hearing you talk about it so openly is super comforting. I had never thought of using bangs to cover up a spot if necessary. And the bangs do you good. I love your new ‘do!

    • PJ

      Thanks! Even though I knew I would probably lose more hair than normal, it still upset me when it happened. And I couldn’t recall seeing bald patches on any of my friends! That’s why it’s important for me to share all the ups and downs. PS, my hair was thick, shiny and didn’t fall out while I was pregnant!

  3. Emily (The Culinary Couple)

    Yes! I lost an outrageous amount of hair after Sammy was born. And it really freaked me out. It’s starting to grow back (thankfully), but now I have the awkward baby bangs to deal with. I haven’t yet been brave enough to do the blunt bangs cut, but it looks fab on you!

    • PJ

      Thank you! Those baby bangs are so annoying. I have tons of baby hair sprouting all over my head. I’m definitely still getting used to these blunt bangs. Maybe you could try longer side swept bangs?

    • PJ

      Thanks, Molly. Bangs may be easier than extensions, but I bet extensions would be more fun! Imagine being able to quickly go from having short hair to long hair–a big change like that could be the upside to needing them in the first place!

  4. Ali

    I wonder which hair person gave you all that advice last October… Post-partum hair loss sounds a lot like hypothyroidism hair loss. I’ve found that brushing my hair right before I get in the shower and then running my fingers through it means that less falls out once I’m in there washing my hair. Less wet hair to deal with. And also, you don’t get the drain clogged as fast. Like your bangs! (maybe a Brazilian blowout is something I should try)

    • PJ

      I did try brushing my hair before I showered to get out as many loose hairs as possible, but it didn’t always prevent massive hairballs–especially if my hair was styled curly. Ick.

  5. Maria Etkind

    PJ: You are not alone. I experienced hairloss but it was 2 years after my son was born.

    I ended up doing the following this might help you:
    1. changed birth control pills (side effect of the pill is hair loss)
    2. changed all my shampoo and hair product to Alba products. Go to Whole Foods or CVS.
    3. Acupuncture my ying and yang were not balanced..night sweats…
    4. Manage your stress, get sleep (hard one)
    5. Avoid the hot hair dryer, comb your hair, don’t use a brush
    6. Take a multi-vitamin when can I remember

    It has been 3 yrs since my hair loss and I must say it has come back not 100%, but I am not so upset about it anymore. I also embraced looking at wigs at a local shop in the French Quarter…weird but it helped. Good Luck!
    Maria

    • PJ

      I’ve been interested in trying acupuncture for a while now. I also suffer from night sweats…perhaps acupuncture would help both. Thanks!

  6. Mindy

    Hi.. I have been dealing with postpardum hair loss for 2.5 yrs now so I completely understand! I completely quit hi lighting my hair almost a year ago which has helped for sure…I also bought clip I’m hair extensions but it is so hot out that I just can’t do it right now. I have changed my part which also helps a bit. Gotten steroid injections in my head which also was helpful. It definitely makes me feel bad about myself. I also feel like mine is just thinner all over. I also took biotin to help which they just made me feel nauseous! Blah!

    The 6 mths postpardum was the worst for me. I too had bald spots. I also had/have a thinning hair line. ..i feel like my forehead is huge now!

    Weight loss was hard enough…not to mention the sleepless years we moms have! But hair loss I swear is the worst!

    Your new bangs look so fabulous…maybe I should try?

    Tks for your blog!

  7. K

    I second the acupuncture, but can say that it will help long term but not overnight. My baby is 8 months and going thru the emotional effect of the lost hair. I am trying to find a style that will help me to feel less frumpy and cover those unsightly spots. Enjoyed the post! Glad to know I am not going crazy since I feel like it has affected me more this time than after my first pregnancy :)

  8. Jennifer

    I had a beautiful little boy in December and am now dealing with the same thin spots you displayed in your photos. From your recent Spring hair cut photos it appears your hair made a full recovery. How long did it take to notice significant improvement once the shedding stopped? By the way, you are did a great service sharing your experience with this stage of motherhood. Thank you sooo much! It is very comforting knowing you are not alone.

  9. Crystle

    I know entirely too well what you went through! And please tell me there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!

    I stopped breastfeeding two months ago, and my hair started falling out in clumps soon thereafter. I became accustomed to the postpartum top knot and high pony tail, then I realized how ghastly my hairline had become. I knew that bangs would be the only solution, but I was really hoping to grow them out again. Not only do we have to contend with our ‘soft’ postpartum bodies, but now the ugly hairlines? Please, no?!

    • PJ

      The good news is that your hair will grow back, albeit slowly. That’s a drag. Even growing-out bangs that are long and sort of side-swept would be helpful in covering postpartum hair loss around the hairline.

      Are you still taking prenatal vitamins? I never stopped taking mine, and I found that they help my hair grow a bit faster.

  10. Lisa

    Did your hair ever grow back? I am 3 years post partum and my hairline looks exactly like yours…except worse. I have always had a bad hairline…..genetics…..but after my twins were born in 2010, it has gotten much worse and I have the hairline of a 50 year old man and so many thin little baby hairs. Please tell my yours got better.

  11. Nicole Nelson

    My little girl is 3 1/2 months old, and my hair seems to be everywhere right now…..besides my head. Shower rodents? Yep I have those, too. Right now I don’t seem to be sporting any bald spots or scalp showing, but if the shedding continues at this rate, I just might run screaming to my stylist very soon. I just had a trim a few weeks ago. The shedding has intensified a lot since then. My hair is very similar to yours. Normally it’s quite thick, but my strands are very fine and slightly wavy. Right now it’s pretty long, it reaches past the middle of my back, but I am starting to think I need to chop a couple of inches off and opt for some bangs. I had my bangs cut a little over a year ago; thick, blunt ones. They’re annoying, but nothing could be more annoying than this thin, limp, straggly hair style I have right now. Ugh!

    PS – When I was pregnant, and right after the baby was born, I had the best hair -EVER. Every day was a good hair day. A great hair day.

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