You're three months into motherhood and suddenly the one thing that pregnancy gifted you with, those thick, glossy Kate Middleton locks, have suddenly started to fall out by the handful.
You notice it one day, while showering, when you look down and spot something resembling a small dead gerbil gathering in your plug hole.
Suddenly the ONE thing that helped you cling to a little bit of your identity, while adjusting to early motherhood is shedding by the bucket load, and you start to panic.
Let me be the one to reassure you (as someone who is currently experiencing this for the THIRD time) all of this is normal, and everything will be ok.
You will not go bald
Those lovely hormones that caused your hair to stick around for longer than usual were simply on loan as a consolation prize to make up for all the other crap that pregnancy hormones put you through. Now that your baby is here, they are simply leaving your body and taking the extra hair with them.
You aren't poorly, and there are far worse reasons to be losing your hair. Try to remind yourself that although it's a bit frightening, it is a very small price to pay for such a wonderful little gift. Like all things, it's just a short phase which in most cases won't last longer than a few months - by the time you have the next one, you'll have forgotten all about it!
Me too mummy!
You might have also noticed that your little one is also shedding quite a lot of hair. This is perfectly normal and can be due to hormones, cradle cap removal or the back of their head rubbing against the mattress. This happens to most babies, but if you are at all worried, as with all things, go and see your doctor.
It is already starting to grow back
Pretty much as soon as you lose a strand of hair, another will take it's place and soon you will end up with a fuzzy little fringe growing around your face, tufty little sideburns and an extra layer of hair growing through the rest.
TAKE CARE OF THE NEW HAIR. Try not to straighten it, treat it to some coconut oil every now and then and take a good postnatal supplement. Do all of this and in about a year's time you will be left with a lovely soft new head of hair.
Stray hair can be quite dangerous - keep it tied up!
Your baby will always be close to your hair, usually nuzzling, pulling and even chewing it (given half the chance). Their tiny little fingers provide the perfect reel for your hair to wrap itself around. Keep your hair up as much as possible and always check your baby's fingers, toes and inside their nappy for stray hairs, they really can get everywhere and a hair tourniquet (where a strand gets wrapped around a finger or toe and cuts off blood supply) can be incredibly painful and can lead to infection.
Try to wear your hair as loosely as possible. The tighter you wear it, the quicker you'll lose it. I try to avoid drying or brushing mine during this phase, as I find it gives it a little more time to grow back rather than all thinning all at once.
Limiting hair washes to twice a week at most can also help as hair falls out more when wet. Limiting washes also gives the fuzzy new hair a chance to soak in all the lovely natural oils that your scalp naturally provides. When you do shower, use a sink strainer, or you will end up with a stinky hair rat that clogs your bath pipes!
Long vs short
Some people choose to cut their hair short at this point just to make life easier, the loss will seem less and it will take a shorter amount of time for the new hair to catch up with the old. If, like me, this option is not for you, try experimenting with soft hair up dos and replace hair bands with slides and kirby grips wherever possible. Remember, if your hair is long the hair loss will seem far worse than it actually is. Try not to worry.
Tell another other first time mother!
I found this phase so unnecessarily stressful the first time a
round. I didn't know that it was normal to lose so much hair. No one had warned me and I really did think that the damage was permanent.
We are given so many anecdotes from experienced mothers, but postnatal hair loss rarely gets mentioned. So, if you know a first time mother who is about to pop, it's always a good idea to mention it in passing - let her know that it happens to most women and is nothing to worry about.
Go and enjoy your baby - the next year will fly by so very fast and you really don't need to spend any of this precious time worrying unnecessarily. The shedding will suddenly stop by itself and you will have been so focused on your baby that you probably won't even have noticed!
In the mean time be kind to yourself, your hair and your body. It has done a wonderful thing and just needs time to settle and heal. Treat your body with love and gratitude and this time next year you will have your sparkle back.