Postpartum Hair Loss: 3 Women Share Their Journeys

Postpartum Hair Loss: 3 Women Share Their Journeys

By Lisa Patulny   |  

Plus, why it happens, what can help and what doesn’t work. 

Postpartum hair loss has to be one of the most challenging things that happens after giving birth. Referred to as telogen effluvium (or ‘excessive shedding’), it’s a short-term condition that involves losing substantial amounts of hair. For context, the average person loses around 100 or so hairs over the course of a day. In postpartum hair loss, the pregnancy hormones that once kept your hair from falling out (by keeping it in the growing phase of its life cycle for longer) suddenly drop off. This change causes a much higher number of hairs (up to 400!) to shed all at once. Cue: big clumps of hair left in your brush/the drain/all over the floor.

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It commonly begins around four months postpartum and, while classed as a temporary condition, it can continue up to – and in some cases, beyond – one year. It’s hard to find concrete figures on how many women in Australia are impacted by postpartum hair loss, but some experts estimate it’s as much as 50%. The trickiest thing is that it affects everyone differently, so some new mums will notice a slight decrease in their overall fullness, while others will lose significant patches and be convinced they might permanently balding.

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It’s difficult to appreciate what a struggle postpartum hair loss can be unless you’ve lived it. There’s the hair fall itself, which can be seriously confronting, but there’s also the impact it can have on your body image. There is so much pressure to ‘bounce back’ after birth, and this is yet another element of a societal expectation that’s unattainable for many women. Which is why it’s so easy to get sucked into spray-on hair treatments and other products that promise to restore your hair to its former glory. While some supplements do help (see: Habitual Beauty Advanced Skin + Gut Health Collagen Elixir and Aede Power Activist) many don’t. Rest assured that any supplements we stock are backed by science and many happy customer reviews.

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We asked three mums who’ve used them (including one brand founder – hi Kiera!) to share their personal postpartum hair loss journeys with us. Keep reading for more.

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Side note: it should go without saying that if postpartum hair loss is causing you distress, it’s a Very Good Idea to see a healthcare professional, but we’ll say it anyway. Hair loss is linked to several common medical conditions so if it persists beyond a year, go and get yourself checked in case there’s something else going on.

Justine Le Bars, founder of Echo Communications, mum to Léo, 15 months, Nina, 3 and Zoé 5

“I’ve had three babies in the last five and a half years so I’ve experienced postpartum hair loss a few times now. All three times, I noticed that the hair loss really began around two to three months postpartum. I have fine hair, and not tonnes of it, so I was freaked out that I would have no hair left on my head. At its worst, I was losing large clumps of hair when brushing and there was hair fall everywhere in the house. My 3-year-old would come to me crying because she would get my long hairs wrapped around her fingers. As with every other woman I was already experiencing all the other postpartum things: my body had changed, breastfeeding was painful and I was exhausted. Frankly, losing so much of my hair was the cherry on the cake.

Six months after I had my first, I was due to be married. Not ideal as I wanted to wear my hair down for the wedding and feel nice about myself but my hair was so thin. I used a spray that promised to boost growth but I don’t think it worked, maybe because I wasn’t treating the issue from the inside as well. In any case, I opted for clip-in extensions to give my hair some body, but I would have much preferred to have more of my own.

It got progressively worse with my second and third babies. The third time round was bad. I was experiencing a lot of stress caring for three little ones under five in lockdown whilst also trying to run my business which might have contributed to it. It got so extreme at one point that my husband thought I might have alopecia.

With my third baby, I immediately jumped on the Habitual Beauty Collagen Elixir bandwagon. The formulation is concentrated in collagen and also has added vitamins, minerals and omegas. Being time poor it’s great to have all that goodness in one sachet. Post-breastfeeding I also began Aéde Power Activist, which is specifically formulated for hormonal hair loss. It was created by a hair care professional and is all natural so I felt I could trust it. The combination worked wonders – my hairdresser could not believe the difference.

My biggest piece of advice is to get ahead of it to try to minimise the damage. Start on a breastfeeding-friendly supplement that contains collagen soon after you give birth. Then, if you decide to take a hair loss-specific supplement, choose one that targets hormonal hair loss. And finally, cut your hair! Trim it on a regular basis to allow for healthy growth. If your hair is not looking as good and thick as usual, a shorter cut tends to look better. After three pregnancies, I’ve come to the conclusion that some hair thinning is somewhat unavoidable but with the right supplements you can help it grow back quicker and healthier. Postpartum hair loss taught me to look after my hair from the inside out, to ensure it’s healthy and strong.

I am now 15 months postpartum and my hair is better than it was before having my three kids – no kidding! Not only do I have more hair now than before, it doesn’t split at the ends like it used to. I still take collagen once a day and the Aéde capsules and I won’t stop anytime soon because they make a huge difference for me.”

Kate Casey, CEO of The Memo, mum to Matilda, 6, and Jack, 3.

“My hair has been thin and quite flat my whole life so I was particularly nervous about postpartum hair loss. Initially I had hoped that I had escaped it, but around two months after my first was born I noticed more hair than ever before in the basin, and it got worse from there. My hair would come out in clumps after washing and brushing, and when I'd wake up in the morning, there was hair on my pillow. I have full, blunt bangs which became so tragic that I started pinning them back, but of course that only made my receding hairline more visible. The hair loss shattered my confidence. I was so self conscious I was embarrassed to see my friends at times. I avoided photos so I hardly have any of myself and my children during these months.

With my second, I was delighted by the shiny, thick hair I had during pregnancy but, once again, it all fell out. The hair loss started earlier the second time round, and was more brutal, too. I discussed it with my GP multiple times but felt that I was dismissed – a “it doesn't last, so don't worry” kind of thing. Blood tests showed low iron but even after an infusion, I didn't see improvement. They didn’t recommend anything else. It was really bad for three months, but didn’t go away until after I stopped breastfeeding at fourteen months.

A few things I tried on my own seemed to work. I ditched elastic hair ties (they damage the hair) and instead softly pinned my hair into a bun. I washed my hair less and avoided hot tools. I also used a wide tooth comb to gently detangle, and took my time when brushing my hair, holding it at the root to prevent ripping it out. I took some vitamins and powders by popular brands and used hair growth sprays but they didn’t do much.

Even though I am three and a half years postpartum, I still shed a lot of hair daily. So three months ago I started religiously taking Habitual Beauty Collagen Powder and my hair has grown so much – I've never naturally had it this long. I have a lot of new, baby hairs coming through, it’s a pity they are white! I’m thrilled that Kiera developed a product that is specifically designed to help women through this side effect.

Beyond what you can do about it, my advice to other people going through postpartum hair loss is this: it's normal to feel like shit. You’ve gone through pregnancy and birth and survived the intense first six weeks and so the hair loss just feels mean. (Because it is.) Go easy on yourself because additional stress doesn’t help.”

Keira Rumble, founder of Krumble foods and Habitual Beauty, mum to Hunter, 11 months.

“I experienced slight hair loss around five months postpartum after washing my hair. I’d say I was losing roughly 10 strands per wash – it was nothing as bad as I was anticipating. I took the Habitual Beauty Advanced Skin + Gut Health Collagen Elixir daily as a preventative measure throughout my pregnancy and postpartum and I attribute my lack of postpartum hair loss to the formulation. [Ed’s note: it contains 10,000mg of hydrolysed collagen peptides per serve plus an array of other hair health-boosting ingredients.]

I’ve found that using a silk pillowcase and hair tie helps to reduce stress on fragile hair. I also highly recommend using a hair claw or clip as the impact on hair is similarly minimal. I’ve never been a hair clip wearer before but I love the effortlessly chic look it gives. I’m currently 11 months postpartum and my hair is better now than pre-pregnancy, both in shine and overall health. It’s growing at a record rate! Prior to taking the Collagen Elixir, my hair struggled to grow – it was weak and brittle with a fair amount of split ends.

My biggest piece of advice to someone going through postpartum hair loss is to focus on nourishing yourself from within in as many ways as you can. The season of life after having a baby is a period of immense change for a new mother and it’s extremely important to look after yourself. If you’re looking for a hair supplement, do your research and find a high-dose, science-backed formula that offers real results. A lot of brands market themselves as great for postpartum hair loss, but require you to take the product three times a day and still don’t deliver the same amount of collagen Habitual Beauty does in a single sachet. (Remembering to take three servings of anything per day is not exactly sustainable for a new mum either!) In addition to collagen, our Advanced Skin + Gut Health Collagen Elixir also contains 17 essential and non-essential amino acids and is fortified with a proprietary blend of 24 bioactive ingredients to further support your overall hair health.”

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