Three months after my twins were born, I noticed my hair falling out in the shower.
And I’m not talking about the usual tangle of stray strands in the drain. I mean that the huge ball of fur I generated when I rubbed my hands together looked not unlike a small animal.
With all the physical challenges I’d endured to bring multiples in the world, my body was feeling pretty beat up as it was. Was it my hair’s turn to get beat up too?
Apparently, yes. Dr. Christine Greves, OB-GYN at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, Florida, explained that pregnancy hair changes are very much a real thing.
They are the result of — what else? — hormonal alterations in the body that cause a boost in volume before baby and a decrease after.
"There is a slowing of hairs in the growing stage — also known as the anagen stage — to the resting stage, known as the telogen phase," Dr. Greves told TODAY.com. "This creates an increase in the growing-stage hair, which results in the scalp hair appearing thicker or denser during pregnancy. During the postpartum period, however, hairs present in the resting phase increase, resulting in the hair loss and thinning of scalp hair."
She also said that there’s no evidence to indicate that taking prenatal vitamins — or other Hail Mary at-home approaches — can prevent hair loss.
Come to think of it, I’d heard of this growth-cycle change in pregnancy, but I didn’t realize that postpartum hair loss would affect me — given that my already curly mane must have concealed any increase in volume while I was pregnant. I didn’t gain any hair, so surely I wouldn't lose it, right?
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Wrong on both counts. And to make matters more unsettling, I was losing tons of strands right around my hairline. Think male pattern baldness. Charming. And while I was still working to recover physical fitness and body confidence, this kind of blow was not what I needed.
Hair loss is certainly an emotional — even crushing — thing for many moms.
Stephanie Holland, who lost a significant amount of hair around the four-to-six-month postpartum mark, said, “I loved my full, Pantene-inspired head of hair while I was pregnant and was devastated every time I took a shower and would see clumps being gathered in the drain catcher."
"As a woman, you really do have a relationship with your hair and to lose it so dramatically was difficult. I am nine months postpartum now and it is only now starting to fill in again," she said.
Lana Kimmich, who is three months postpartum with twins, echoed the sentiment.
She admitted to being deeply bummed about the hair loss she’s currently experiencing, saying, "I didn't lose a single hair during the last few months of my pregnancy, which was a [welcome] change because I had always had hair loss, unfortunately. Last night I counted 400 hairs lost in the shower."
But the condition is not permanent, which should come as a relief to many new moms.
From the clinical perspective, Dr. Greves explained that this hair-loss period typically occurs one to five months after the baby is born, and usually resolves within 15 months.
In my case, I’m happy to report that the resolution appears to be coming much quicker. Now six months postpartum, my hair loss has slowed to a trickle. I can already see new growth coming in around my hairline — in the form of short little hairs that may be inconvenient when it comes to styling, but are reassuring to see.
Some moms even find that after that unsettling period of loss, they discover changes to their hair that make them actually love it more than ever.
"My hair got way thicker after I had my daughter," said mom Sagan Tyana Condon, who now gets her tresses thinned out every couple of months for maintenance.
Still, others report changes to the texture of their hair — for instance a postpartum mane that is more curly or coarse.
According to Dr. Greves, such tress tales are out there — but they’re mostly anecdotal.
"There aren't any good studies that I could find with reasons as to why hair may change in texture to become more or less curly, for example, during the postpartum period," she said.
Nevertheless, she added, "I've taken care of some patients who do make note of that finding."
This article was originally published on March 22, 2016 on TODAY.com.