What Happened to My Hair?! A True Story of Postpartum Hair Loss

Hair loss around the forehead

I’m going to be completely honest and admit that I’ve always been a little vain about my hair.

Like most women I know, when I look in the mirror, I tend to notice the flaws in my appearance instead of focusing on the positive. Too flat, round, bumpy, straight, the wrong color, the wrong size — many of us agonize over things that no one else would ever notice. My hair, however, has never really bothered me. Oh sure, I can look back on pictures and lament the sixth grade spiral perm that I begged my mother for, or cringe over the sky-high middle school bangs. As an adult, my hair has remained largely unchanged and easily managed.

When I was pregnant, I poured over every book about what to expect when your new baby arrives. When hair loss was mentioned as a possible postpartum side effect, I wasn’t worried. My hair is thick. Really, really thick. I thought, “Great, I don’t have to pay to have it thinned out for a few months. Sign me up!” Oh, how wrong I was.

The normal cycle of hair has three stages: the growth phase, transitional phase, and resting phase. Hair is shed during the resting phase and it’s normal to lose up to 100 strands per day, according to WebMD. During pregnancy, estrogen levels rise and the growth phase is prolonged so there isn’t as much shedding. The fun begins three or four months after pregnancy, when estrogen levels drop and all of the hair that was in the prolonged growing phase begins to shed.

It was right around the four-month mark when I looked in the mirror and realized that I was sporting a new and stylish Eddie Munster hair “don’t”.

Close up of severe hair loss along front hair line

I panicked. I snapped a pic. I sent it to my husband and demanded that he drop everything and be hysterical with me. (I am not proud of this). Of course there was nothing he could do, or that I could do, and then the baby started crying. I pulled myself together, made a mental note to ask my hair stylist about bangs next time, and tried to forget about it. With a preemie at home, I barely left the house. I told myself that it didn’t matter if I was bald. Who was going to see me anyway?

A few months of avoiding mirrors later, I was getting ready for a date night with my husband. I still hadn’t made it to the salon, but I was pleased to notice that I was no longer missing patches of hair. I looked more closely.

They’d been replaced — with tiny little hairs that stuck straight up. They were all along my hairline. My perpetual mom ponytail was looking a little silly. I made the hair appointment.

Sadly at this stage, there weren’t any options. My stylist explained that any kind of cutting around the hairline would just result in larger pieces of hair sticking up, which clearly wouldn’t be an improvement. She cut in some larger layers to try to camouflage the effect and sent me on my way with instructions to let it grow.

I tried to not let it bother me, but the truth is that it did. Being a new mom can be hard in many ways and can wreak havoc on your self-esteem. Between the dark circles from lack of sleep, my ever-changing body, and constantly looking like I stuck my finger in a light socket, I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself.

Around 11 months postpartum, I was getting ready for the day. I was fussing with my hair and frowning at myself in the mirror when I noticed my daughter in the doorway watching me from her walker. She had taken to sitting in the doorway and we would “get ready” together. She would brush her teeth while I brushed mine, use her hair brush when I used mine — it was a fun little routine.

It hit me in that moment that I never want her to frown at herself in the mirror. I always want her to see the beauty in herself, not the flaws. I want her to know that her character, her kindness and her intelligence are what truly matters. If I want that to happen, I have to start with myself.

I’m not going to say that I will never doubt my appearance again or that I’ll always have perfect self-esteem. I will say that losing my hair ended up being a great life lesson for me.

So I cut some bangs and moved on.

– Sara Kuhn is a Parenting Program participant and volunteer.

1 Response to “What Happened to My Hair?! A True Story of Postpartum Hair Loss”

  1. 1 Anonymous April 9, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Such a GREAT lesson is life! Wonderfully written and truthfully told. Thanks for sharing, Sara!

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