“The dreaded shed” is normal (blame your hormones).
By Liz Krieger
Everyone talks about that pregnancy glow-up–especially the shiny, thick hair–but after you have the baby, you might be left wondering, “Where’d all that glowiness go?” Hormonal changes that happen after childbirth can have a ripple effect on every part of your body, especially your hair. That’s due to two words: Telogen effluvium. Nope, not an exotic mushroom. It’s the technical term for that massive clump of hair in the drain–aka the dreaded shed, which typically occurs three months after you’ve given birth. And though it may seem gross, it’s normal; postpartum hair loss affects 40 to 50 percent of new moms, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
A recap of your hair journey until now: during pregnancy, higher levels of estrogen kept you from losing hair. After delivery, the hormone levels return to normal, which allows your hair to resume its natural cycles of growth and shedding. The normal hair loss that was delayed during pregnancy may fall out all at once. (Hence, the scary shower scene.) The hair loss usually peaks three to four months after delivery as your hair follicles regenerate themselves.
When you start seeing the clumps when you brush or wash your hair, don’t panic. This is common and temporary. Hair, skin, and nail vitamins help; consider one in addition to your postnatal vitamin to ensure you’re covering all your nutrition bases. Be gentle on how you brush, style, and wear your hair. Even though you may not have time or energy for more than a daily ponytail or bun, when you do pull it back, use a soft scrunchie or tugless hairband. Ease up on flat-irons or blow-dryers as much as possible, and put off any chemical-based treatments like color, perms, or straightening sessions until the shedding stops.
Your rate of hair loss should return to normal within six to twelve months. And in the meantime, your regrowth will show you why the short hair at your temples is called “baby hair.”