From being sore to leaking breast milk all over the damn place to never sleeping, post-birth life can be a challenge. Then, as if the baby gods have decided to smite new mothers the world over, postpartum hair loss is thrown into the mix. During pregnancy, your hormones shift and allow you to grow all this beautiful, shiny new hair. Then your baby comes into the world and all that gorgeous hair goes down the drain. Literally. It’s upsetting as hell, which is why there are things you shouldn’t say to a woman with postpartum hair loss. Like, ever.
I’ve had my own struggles with hair loss over the years, but never have they been so taxing than after I gave birth to my son. When I was pregnant I was so excited to finally be getting some hair back after slowly thinning out over the years. In fact, right after birth it seemed as though my lovely locks were going to stick around. Then, about six or seven months postpartum, I noticed huge clumps of hair in my shower drain. My pillow cases were covered in hair, too, and my dreams of having luscious, flowing hair ended.
For most new mothers, the postpartum hair loss is minimal and their hair — both in thickness and in amount — will just go back to whatever it was pre-pregnancy. Sadly, for me, I’ve recently been diagnosed with PCOS, which explains why my hair loss hasn't subsided. I know the pain of losing your hair all too well, dear reader, so if your partner, friend, or relative is struggling with postpartum hair loss, please mind what you say. More importantly, don’t say the following:
"It’s Just Hair"
Yes, I know it’s “just hair.” To you. If this was something you were personally struggling with, I guarantee you it wouldn't be "just hair."
As women, we're raised to feel like our hair is part of our outer beauty. Even if we don’t give a damn about makeup or fancy clothes, most of us still feel connected to our hair.
"It’ll Grow Back"
Will it? No really, you honestly know that for sure? You can’t say that for certain what will happen with any woman's hair postpartum. And while, yes, many women's postpartum hair loss is minimal and tappers off after a while, others, like me, find out it’s also related to something else (such as PCOS or alopecia areata or lupus).
"Since When Are You This Vain?"
Caring about your hair does not make you vain. Just because we care about the basic parts of our body (like our skin and our hair) doesn’t mean we only think about how we look and/or how others perceive how we look.
When you've gone through months of pregnancy and something as life-changing as childbirth, it can be so damn difficult to feel like yourself again. It's so normal for a new mom to focus on the parts of her body (and life) she can completely control, like her hair or nails or whatever. Don't diminish her need to feel like herself again by calling her vain. Instead, support her in her quest to bodily autonomy.
"I Hear Some Women's Hair Never Comes Back"
Gee. Thanks? I think? Maybe just don’t share these "horror stories" about other women's less-than-ideal experiences, because we’re probably upset about our hair loss enough as it is.
"I Can't Even Tell"
I know this is a totally well-meaning statement. In fact, I have a feeling the majority of loving friends, family members, and partners will say they can't tell a difference in an effort to make the new mom in their life feel more confident.
Here's the thing, though: a new mom's feelings need to be validated, not dismissed. Saying you don't notice doesn't mean we don't notice. Plus, we know you're lying, and nobody likes a liar.
"I Can Totally See Your Scalp"
Also not something I need to know. Yes, I know my scalp is showing in between what hair I have left. Trust me when I say I'm very, very aware. Unless I’ve asked you to inform me (because I’m trying a product to hide it or something), please refrain from commenting.
"Hey There, Baldy"
Jokes about hair loss are not cute. I repeat: jokes about hair loss are not cute. Especially not when you’re postpartum, hormonal, and vulnerable as hell. Try not being a jerk. It’s what works best.