Writer and PR pro Zlata Faerman shares her hair growth story in SELF magazine. A year and a half after her son was born, Zlata is still struggling with her post-pregnancy hair loss. She’s pissed off but she’s on a mission to consult the experts who can help her get her old hair back. Read her complete story on self.com.
My Post-Pregnancy Hair Loss Story
When I was growing up, my hair was so thick that I’d bust through several packs of hair ties a week because they’d always break by the second loop.
Cut to 2017: I have no shame in admitting that I would probably sell my soul to the devil to be able to a break a hair brush with my hair like I used to. I’m in my mid-30’s now and it is nothing like it once was. I can blame weather, age, coloring it—I’m sure they all played a role. But the thing, or rather person, I blame the most is my son.
During my pregnancy, I had the best hair of my life.
About eight weeks into being pregnant with my son, Shane, each strand of hair on my head basically sent me a handwritten thank you note. Every morning it woke up with pep and spent the day with that IDGAF attitude. My hair was shiny and full of bounce like a 1964 Chevy Impala in a Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre rap video. It wasn’t begging for a shampoo every day, and most importantly, it was staying on my head.
Normally, your hair goes through a [four-stage hair growth cycle with a growing phase, a regression phase, a resting phase, and a shedding phase.] When you’re harboring a human, hormones like estrogen tell hair to grow, grow, grow. “Hormonal shifts during pregnancy help the hairs remain in their active growing phase, so they don’t fall out as much as they do otherwise,” dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., tells SELF. “Some women feel that the hair is never thicker than it is during pregnancy, while others may not appreciate much of a difference.”
But after all the hair-boosting pregnancy hormones went away, so did my thick, full, shiny mane.
I was always used to some shedding—my now-husband’s biggest complaint about sharing a bathroom with me when we first moved in together was the amount of hair that was on the floor. But what happened to me about four months postpartum was no joke. I would lose what seemed like 1,000 strands a day. I was scared to shampoo my hair, and I cried each time because I’d be covered in loose strands. Covered.
I could thank estrogen again for this one. Postpartum, when hormone levels return back to normal, your hair rapidly shifts back to its normal cycle, and right into its shedding stage. “What almost all women experience is a rapid hair shedding around three months or so after delivery of the baby,” Zeichner says. “This is known as telogen effluvium.” While it can be dramatic for women, it’s typically not permanent and hair returns to its regular grow/shed cycle.
Dramatic is putting it lightly. I know it’s completely normal and happens to so many women after having a baby, but knowing that doesn’t make it any less upsetting. As a new mom, you’re already getting used to (trying to get used to) all of the changes with your body and your life in general. You’ve second-guessed every single decision you’ve made since day one. You eat differently, you sleep differently, you’re nursing, pumping, constantly thinking of another human being, and the last thing you need is to be shedding like a Golden Retriever.
My son is almost one and a half now, and my hair is still nothing like what it used to be.
I’d say “devastated” is a pretty accurate description for how I feel about my hair now. It took me an embarrassingly long time to get to a salon for a cut and a color, because I was in denial and didn’t want to deal with how horrible my hair made me feel.
I loop a hair tie three times for a ponytail, when I used to do just two. When my hair is blown out, it’s still lifeless and looks as if I flat-ironed it. I have bangs that are two inches long, and if I pull my hair up, a huge chunk of it can’t make it that high.
While (im)patiently waiting for my hair to grow back, I decided to look into what might help give my hair a little boost in the meantime.
Just like my boobs, I expect my hair will never be the same again.
Dermatologist Jeffrey Rapaport, M.D., P.A., made me feel a little better by telling me that there’s nothing a pregnant woman can do to prevent postpartum hair loss. “It should also be noted that your hair will probably restore itself naturally,” he says. Score! “However, if severe hair loss continues beyond a year postpartum, you should see a hair loss expert to determine the etiology.” (That means root cause. And yes, that was a pun.)
Since it’s been about that long for me, this is definitely going to be my next step. In the meantime, I got some pretty good advice about what to do to create the best possible chance that my hair will grow back thicker on its own.
“Products that help thicken the hair that is left can help improve the overall appearance of your hair,” Zeichner says. He also suggests treatments that promote a healthy scalp to give the new hair growing in some TLC. “Topical treatments or even oral supplements that help promote a healthy scalp provide building blocks needed for healthy hair production and enhance circulation to the scalp for delivery of nutrients to the follicles,” he says. He recommends Viviscal to encourage healthy hair growth. Just make sure, if you’re breastfeeding, to check with your doctor before taking any new medication or supplement.
I’m still waiting for my hair to get back to its old self. Maybe it never will, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying all the volumizing products out there in hopes that one day, I’ll be back to breaking brushes.