Natural Hair and Post Partum Shedding

Natural Hair and Post Partum Shedding

Pregnancy. A beautiful process that comes with its own difficulties. While pregnant expecting moms often experience swollen feet, nausea, an aching body, and sometimes it’s even difficulty breathing. There are countless side effects that come along with growing a little person. Many expecting moms or moms learn passively through the people in their lives and the media consume. Then, once pregnant or preparing for pregnancy, we may read books dedicated to teaching what to expect. After months of carrying your little one, the day comes when they enter this world. You brace yourself for the shift in your life. Irregular schedules, odd feeding hours, and the strong desire for a nap at any given time. You’ve been semi-prepared for this because it’s common knowledge. Newborns require a lot of attention and energy. What you may not have been ready for, however, is losing your natural hair after giving birth.

In our culture and others, hair is a beauty standard for women.

There’s a strong push for women to have long, thick natural hair. Just think of the ads you’ve historically seen promoting hair! Even though hair thickness is linked to genetics, many products boast that they can thicken anyone’s hair. Our society highlights women’s physical appearance and equates it to the worth of the person. The pressure for women to be attractive is much more intense than it is for men. Young girls grow up believing they must alter their appearance and strive for “perfection.” This feeds into diet and toxic beauty cultures. Hair is an especially sensitive topic for Black women. We are constantly scrutinized for how we wear our hair—even if we are doing EVERYTHING to meet the “standard.” Even as our community becomes more positive towards our different natural hair textures, there is still a push to have long hair and laid edges.

Going through pregnancy and childbirth as a Black woman is difficult enough.

We are statically more likely to die during childbirth and go unheard by the doctors who are meant to help us. Then, as our bodies are healing, our hair that is so closely linked to personhood begins to fall out. Edges begin to vanish as the thick and voluminous hair we had throughout pregnancy starts to fall out. Many may immediately feel anxiety and insecurity when this happens because of how others may perceive them. Think about all the shame Black women face on the internet because of their natural hair. Those internalized feelings are now placed on a woman who has just done one of the hardest things in the world.

So, why does the hair fall out after pregnancy?

Let’s talk about the science behind post-partum shedding. Your hormones significantly change when you become pregnant. An increase in estrogen is one of the key reasons why hair changes while pregnant. When you aren’t pregnant you lose about 100 strands of hair a day. Estrogen prevents shedding by keeping most of your hair in the growing phase. This will quickly cause your hair to be thicker. Think of all the hair that would have naturally fallen out during the months you were with child. It’s a LOT. After giving birth your incredible body makes a sharp adjustment to its hormones. Many levels begin to return to normalcy within 24 hours. Your body begins to make up for the lack of shedding as estrogen levels lower.

Post-partum shedding commonly peaks around the 4-month mark. It’s completely natural for you to lose clumps of hair around this time. Don’t panic!

What to do when you have post-partum shedding?

Post-partum shedding can cause a lot of fear in women. There’s always the looming concern that the hair may never return. The fact that it can last for months on end can heighten that anxiety. You may be looking for countless cures on the internet to make your natural hair return as soon as possible. The truth is there is no cure or quick fix to it.

There are ways to reduce unnecessary hair loss:

  1. Be gentle with your hair. Don’t yank or tug on your hair when you cleanse or style it. Being too rough can pull hair out that wasn’t going to shed. Mishandling your hair can cause hair loss regardless of post-partum shedding.

  2. Avoid activities that can cause damage. You may want to stay away from dying your hair and using heat or chemicals to straighten your hair. These things always carry the risk of damage and should be done by a trained professional to minimize said risk.

  3. Avoid styles that create tension. Slicked-back ponytails are a great example of this. If you are wearing your hair in “protective styles” that can weigh down your hair or pulling your hair into tight styles, you’re more likely to lose hair.

  4. Maintain a balanced diet. Try your best to eat well after giving birth. If your diet requires it, take vitamin supplements. Women are suggested to continue prenatal vitamins post-pregnancy (especially if breastfeeding.) There is no data confirming that supplements will cause your natural hair to grow at a faster rate. Taking supplements is suggested by doctors for health reasons. Supplements will provide your body with the nutrients it needs which is incredibly important.

Remember: your hair will start to grow back naturally once it’s finished shedding. This process may take months. Don’t stress yourself out worrying about it. Stress can cause hair loss, too!

It’s been studied that post-partum shedding can last up to 18 months. If you’re still losing large clumps of hair after a year of giving birth, you can go to a professional to seek help. You should definitely go if you are still losing clumps after 18 months. Seek a dermatologist who can assess your situation and provide the help you need. We recommend our Black Curlfriends use this site to find a dermatologist. The health industry often neglects the Black community when it comes to healthcare. This is a site to find a dermatologist who can cater to our needs and concerns.

Post-partum shedding is absolutely normal and is nothing you should be ashamed of! It’s a natural process after all the hard work your body has done to create your beautiful baby. You should be proud of all the hard work you’ve done.

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