It happens. You're 3-4 months postpartum and all of a sudden you notice large amounts of hair coming out in the shower. Handfuls of it. Why is this happening?!
While it can be alarming to see so much hair coming out, we're here to reassure you that this is completely normal, and something that happens to almost every woman following the birth of her baby.
When you're preparing for the arrival of a new baby, you spend so much time researching pregnancy, setting up a nursery, and preparing to take care of a newborn.
But you probably didn't spend a lot of time learning about what happens to your body postpartum. That's why these changes can be shocking.
So what else do you need to know?
As soon as your baby is delivered, your uterus will begin to return to its normal pre-pregnancy size. This is called involution. Each day your uterus will shrink a little bit more, for about 6 weeks following delivery.
It shrinks by contracting and these contractions are called afterpains and they can range from uncomfortable to painful. Especially if this is your second or third child. Unfortunately, afterpains can become more painful with each pregnancy.
To ease the pain, practice the same deep breathing techniques that you used to manage contractions during labor. And stay on top of your pain medications if you are taking anything. They will help too. While it will take about 6 weeks for your uterus to shrink back to normal size, the discomfort of afterpains should subside in 1-2 weeks.
Regardless of whether you have a vaginal or cesarean birth, you will experience lochia, bloody discharge, in the first few weeks after delivery. Your uterus is shedding the lining that has built up over the course of your pregnancy and this flow is heaviest in the first few days following birth. It is also common to pass several small clots during this time, too. Over the next few weeks, the flow of lochia will decrease and will change to light pink color to tan to almost whitish.
For most women, lochia stops completely after 6-8 weeks postpartum. During this time if you have overextended yourself, it is common to see an increase in bleeding. This is your body's way of telling you to slow down and rest and you should listen to it.
If at anytime you experience bleeding heavy enough to soak through a pad in one hour or you are passing blood clots the size of a golf ball, call your care provider immediately, as this can be the sign of a late postpartum hemorrhage.
It is very common to sweat heavily in the first days and weeks following delivery. Your body retained quite a bit of extra fluid during pregnancy, and this is its way of getting rid of it. Many postpartum moms might feel very hot or experience hot-flash like symptoms. This is normal. Frequent urination is also a way for your body to rid itself of extra fluids so you might find yourself going to the bathroom all the time.
It's also normal to sweat the heaviest at night and some moms wake up to find their sheets soaking wet. If this happens to you, keep a stack of towels next to your bed so that, rather than having to change wet sheets in the middle of the night, you can lay a towel down, go back to sleep, and deal with it in the morning.
And just when you think you have recovered fully from childbirth, your hair starts falling out. Yep. That's right. This normally begins around 3-4 months postpartum and can last for several months (or longer for some women).
While you were pregnant, those pregnancy hormones kept you from shedding hairs. But now they seem to all be coming out at once. But just know that this is completely normal. Keep taking your prenatal vitamin and eat a healthy diet and the hair loss should not be too excessive. But if you are losing an incredible amount of hair and something just doesn't seem right, don't hesitate to ask your provider if something else could be going on, like postpartum thyroiditis.
So now you know what to expect after baby arrives. Everything talked about here is completely normal and is experienced by almost all postpartum women to some varying degree.
Come back for tomorrow's blog where we will talk about the postpartum red flags that you need to be aware of.