You can experience hair loss during pregnancy
At 6 months pregnant, I’m over 25 weeks and should be seeing a decline in my hair fall as the hormone changes of pregnancy should be impacting how much I shed by this point in the second trimester. This is due to pregnancy keeping hair follicles within the growth phase (anagen phase) much longer than your normal hair cycle. This is connected to why 60% of women experience post-partum hair loss as their post-pregnancy hormones kick into gear and your hair cycle starts to revert back to normal (back to the catagen phase), the hair you didn’t shed during pregnancy, starts to shed quite dramatically.
As someone who has been through hormonal hair loss before, and who works with hair care, I am probably one of the most ‘aware’ moms to be out there in terms of tracking what is happening with my locks! At around 16 weeks, I started to get excited that I thought my hair was shedding less. But a week or so later I could see it was still normal fall out levels. Then when I was in Portland, Maine for a weekend (our first mini drive and trip since the lockdown and the last one before we left the US) I spotted a thinning patch at the back of my head. I wouldn’t have noticed it if they hadn’t had a double mirror!
The combination of COVID-19 equalling working from home, lazy hair days (I’d been air drying my hair for months and just throwing it up) along with strategically trying to cover my gray roots for video calls meant I hadn’t seen the back of my head or attempted to style it in months. I felt gutted, although I had a suspicion due to my past hair thinning that I might not be one of the lucky moms who gets a lush thick head of hair during pregnancy, I suddenly also felt a huge dip in my confidence.
Not knowing if this thinning patch is the worst it might get, whether it will develop into something worse and knowing I’ll likely have this thinner area plus post-partum hair loss around my face is not a fun prospect. I know how long hair takes to grow and how long products take to have any impact (we’re talking 3-4 months minimum), so now I know I’ll have a thin back of my head through the rest of my pregnancy and then it will start to thin around 3 months after birth. Urgh.
How I’m keeping my hair as strong and thick as possible during pregnancy
I’m glad I spotted the thinning patch when I did as it meant I could make changes early on to try and protect it and stimulate new growth in the meantime. I’ve been using pip product samples (a scalp strengthening treatment packed with peptides) throughout the pregnancy but I’d only been applying the product to my roots, so now I also drop the treatment to the thinning patch as well. I’m also being even more delicate with how I shampoo and brush my scalp (especially when the hair is wet) and I’ve started blow-drying (on a low to medium heat) the area to style it better so it doesn’t look as thin and to encourage the hair fibres to fall in a way which makes the back of my head look thicker.
When my hair is greasy, it looks especially patchy, so gently cleansing the hair and ensuring I have a weekly deep scalp cleanse, as well as using dry shampoo to add volume helps me feel my hair looks thicker in the interim as well.
For anyone going through the same thing, try to stay positive and remember to be patient with your body and stick to a routine if you’re looking for change. For example, for hormonal hair loss or acne, it is vital we keep using treatments consistently and don’t expect immediate results.
Many of us give up or switch regimens before we’ve had a chance to see the fruits of our labor - especially with hair strengthening which takes at least 3 months for you to start to see the baby hair regrowth.
What I’ve learnt about hormones and hair loss
Our bodies are in a constant state of flux or homeostasis. Our lives as women can be thought of in cycles, transitions and life stages. Yet most women don’t understand their cycle fully, many women don’t know much about what to expect with the menopause and we shy away from talking about miscarriages, periods and hair thinning. I’m learning to be more open with my emotions and share my journey publically and I hope this will help give more women the strength to do the same. Breaking taboos and sharing knowledge with our peers will go a long way to helping us understand our cycles and life events much better.