Spiky post-partum hair: a scientific explanation

Obviously I’m not the only one with a crew cut at 7 months post-partum:
Mama K said,

JUST YESTERDAY I was looking in the mirror saying, “What in the WORLD is going on – what are all of those spiky hairs?!?!” I thought maybe I’d pulled a scrunchie too tight (in the front???) and ripped it out and broke off a bunch of hair…but have no memory of any such thing!

But Abbie is 9 months old! I have never noticed this before with any of my other kiddos…I will have to pay attention in the future, that’s for sure!

As for now, I feel a bit ridiculous. I mean, it’s BIZARRE. Like a really bad bangs-cut-job!!!

Well, thanks for shedding some light on that. If anyone has an explanation for the phenomenon, please do tell!

Here’s my understanding. Feel free to speak up and correct me if you’ve heard or read something different.
Normally, your ovaries produce the normal and necessary amounts of progesterone for your body.
Normally you would be losing 75-100 strands/day and the follicles would remain dormant for a while before a new strand grows. At any given time, most people have about 10% of their hair follicles in a dormant state.
During pregnancy, very little is normal in your body.
During pregnancy, the placenta takes over the production of progesterone and the levels skyrocket since this is primarily a “pregnancy” hormone. You are happy. Progesterone has that effect.
Your ovaries, sensing that they are no longer needed, go dormant.
For some reason, extra high levels of progesterone prevent normal hair loss. Your hair does *not* fall out at the rate of 75-100 strands/day, and your follicles do *not* go dormant. It all grows. Quickly. And keeps growing. Your hair is running at 100% instead of 90% and growing faster than ever.
You’re gorgeous.
Then you have the baby. The placenta is gone. Nobody is making progesterone because your ovaries are still sulking over having been snubbed for 9 months.
You have plenty of progesterone left over, so you can coast for a bit – 3 months, maybe more, maybe less. But finally, you run low.
You get moody. You get weepy. Your hair falls out. BTW, this would be a good time to find a tube of progesterone cream at the local health food store. It’s not cheap, but your husband will thank you. He might even use it on you when you’re sleeping.
I mentioned that your hair is falling out. But it’s not at the rate of 75-100 strands/day. Your body abruptly realizes that it forgot to shed for the last year, and it goes to work on catching up. You lose everything that you would have lost over the last year. You feel like you’re going bald. If this doesn’t stop soon, you will.
But wait – your ovaries look around and see how badly you need them. They quit sulking and step up to bat. They whip up some badly needed progesterone.
Hair loss stops, and your world looks brighter. Your husband’s world looks brighter too.
Hair growth starts. Lots of hair growth, all at once. All those resting follicles have received a kick in the pants, and you’ll have a nice crew cut going in a month or two.
C’est la vie.

Comments

  1. Meredith says:

    I thought it was just me! I have two curly “horns” of hair that have popped out above my ears (11 months postpartum).

    Glad to know this isn’t some strange new hair pattern–yikes!

  2. I have an 8 month old and wondered what those short hairs were at my hair line. I thought my hair had broken off in those areas. Makes sense that it is new growth.

    How do you go about introducing solids to your babies?

  3. domestikate says:

    Today was my first time visiting your blog. I chuckled as I have been dealing with those “spiky hairs” for a few months now. Because I have a widows peak it looked like I had a balding man’s receding hair line. And of course gray hairs are growing back in that place (the Psalms call it my “crown”)

    I remember after my 1st son was born I just lost most of my hair and I had to get my driver’s license picture taken. I carried around that photo for 8 years… I am so glad the Lord looks at our hearts not our appearance!

    Your blog put a smile on my face. Thanks!

  4. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    wry. I’m just into my 4th month pregnant, and starting to notice that my hair’s total unmanageability is, well. More than normal? So this is why — my hair is growing 100%. I didn’t need that! At 90% its too thick, there isn’t enough space for it all!

    I’m thinking of going to get it thinned this weekend.

  5. I have a 7 month old and I totally resemble this post! My hair fell out when she was about 5 months old. My husband thought is was some kind of conspiracy…he found my hairs everywhere! He said that they were alive and are hunting him down. 😉 He’s so funny.

    I loved your explanation. Makes perfect sense. Now if my thyroid would go back to normal after baby shock, I would be doing great!

    Any good explanations on why the thyroid goes haywire?

  6. The Martin's says:

    I just had my 5th child and I always do this around the 3rd and 4th month with all of them. Ive lately put my hair up and will blow dry stray hairs from my shirts before cooking, it’s that bad! So this cream, is it for real?

  7. I was so sad when my waist-length hair all went away. I tried to do various things but it just looked so horrible that I had to cut it all off. Now that I’m done with kids I’m growing it out again and it’s so nice!

  8. Uh oh- I was a major shedder before pregnancy and am now 6 weeks postpartum. I seemed to lose no hair at all while pregnant- I have a feeling my husband is in for a very hairy time soon enough!

  9. Ah yes! Love that post-partum shedding…lol! Mine started in November when by baby 3 months old and finally just ended. I still have some of the little spikies here and there, but it’s starting to grow back.

    Love your “scientific” explanation there…lol!

  10. I didn’t seem to lose any hair after the first baby, when I started losing it by the handfulls after baby #2 I thought something was seriously wrong with me :). Just weeks after this last baby I started losing it again. I feel so sorry for my poor children when they have to “de-hair” their soft cozy PJ’s before they can wear them :). And Baby’s winter sleepers!? They seem to be hair MAGNETS and that stuff tickles!!! I think I spend half of my laundry folding time picking off hairs that the lint trap in the dryer missed!
    🙂

  11. Steph said “And is it ok for me to tell your readers your hubby’s secret of making you bathe in it when postpartum rears its ugly head?”

    Steph I’ve often thought about pricing the stuff by the drum….oh wait

    HI HUNNY I love you
    🙂

  12. Cute post. I always get the spiky stuff, but I call them “baby hairs”. Also, I’ve dealt with the receding hairline thing (mild balding — EEEEK!!) but only with two of my pregnancies so far (weird how it doesn’t happen every time). I was thinking the other day how when I comb my hair, not one little hair comes out. But give me a matter of weeks here after I deliver our newest and I’ll be apologizing to my family about the hair trail I’m leaving everywhere. 😛

  13. Homekeeper says:

    Exactly! I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one with this problem!

  14. Yeah that is about how it goes! 🙂 Great story telling!

  15. That’s great Kim, is that a scientific explanation? 🙂 The guy that cuts my hair said he had a lady come in once who had lost an inch all the way around the front! Yikes, I just lost it in one spot thankfully so it doesn’t look too bad, this poor lady had bad hair problems for a long time 🙂 I guess there are worse things in life!

  16. Headmistress, zookeeper says:

    That has got to be the funniest biology lesson I have ever read.

    BTW, I never got the spiky hair. Unfortunately, I still have the mask of pregnancy and my baby is eight years old and I am not pregnant.

  17. Charlsie said: “…but I never got the spiky stuff you are talking about…”

    HA! Just keep watching, girl! Just keep watching.

    Oh, Kim, I think I woke up the house laughing there. What a great explanation! Now that’s one to take to the bank!

    ~Karen

  18. Stephanie says:

    I’m cracking up, Kim! Both at your hilarious narrative of the process, and the fact that I’ve got strange tufts going birzirk all over my head from the last baby. I knew the general reason was that my body was making up for lost time, but I love your entertaining account. So…now that I’ve had another baby so soon on the heels of the last one, do I have any hope for a reasonably sane-looking hairstyle 6 months from now?

    Oh, yeah. One more thing…did you tell me once that the progesterone cream can make you get pregnant sooner?

    And is it ok for me to tell your readers your hubby’s secret of making you bathe in it when postpartum rears its ugly head? Oops. Did I write that? 😉

  19. MikeandCharlsie says:

    Wow that is so funny, I have noticed that at about 4mo. postpartum I would lose crazy amounts of hair, but I never got the spiky stuff you are talking about…not sure why. Oh and I really liked your explanation. It made a lot of sense.

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