"My ego took a hit." What it's like going through postnatal hair loss as a woman of colour.

As a proud woman of colour, I loved wearing my natural afro out with the accentuated curls and volume. 

I had spent the best part of my twenties trying every hair style I could from braids, dreadlocks, twists, straight hair, and even bleach blonde curls. 

My hair regime was expensive, and the upkeep was high maintenance.

My hair before pregnancy. Image: Supplied. 

During pregnancy, I thrived as my afro hair was voluminous and thick; I felt beautiful and glorious as a heavily pregnant 5′2 woman.

My hair grew so much, and I treated it and maintained it as much as I possibly could. I loved nourishing it with hair food, treatments, masks and leave in oils that locked in the moisture and protected it.

Image: Supplied. 


It wasn't until five weeks into my daughter's newborn stage when I noticed that my hair texture had changed. 

I was washing my hair in the shower, while my partner was holding our daughter - one of those moments of relief after a heavy couple of sleepless nights - when clumps of hair drifted down my back.

At first, I thought it was normal shedding, so I continued to shampoo my hair with an apple cider vinegar and coconut oil mixture - a concoction I often used. 

As I applied conditioner and began to de-tangle my hair, I felt a short patch on the crown of my head, like my hair had snapped off from the root.

I screamed in horror. My partner ran into the bathroom like someone had chased him in hot pursuit. 

I stood there with clumps of hair in my hands. I was so distressed at the amount of hair I was shedding. Was this normal? I knew postnatal hair loss was normal, but was this much hair loss normal?

Image: Supplied. 

The density of my hair changed, and the texture of my curls were varied. The thin and distressed textured hair was a far cry from its former self, once a gloriously voluminous mane that could withstand heat damage and peroxide.I was so embarrassed about the hair loss. 

I knew postpartum shedding was a normal part of the journey. As a temporary form of alopecia called Telogen Effluvium, the shedding after giving birth was a natural process and very common. 

All the research stated that once the shedding starts, the hair loss usually lasts about three months and would slow down by the first birthday of your child.

But my ego took a hit. As a person who prided themselves in the appearance of their afro, I felt less like myself. Here I was going through the postpartum changes with a body that I was getting used to and now, experiencing postpartum balding. The joys of motherhood.


Listen to You Beauty where Kelly shares her experience with postpartum hair loss. Story continues below.

After a couple of weeks of hiding away inside, using my newborn's sleep regression as an excuse from socialising with my friends in the local mother's group, I braved an outing with a new head wrap. 

I spent those weeks hiding by resting my internal view of myself and my mental state. It took improving my nutrient intake of protein and iron, increasing vegetable consumption, and sleeping on satin silk pillowcases to help reduce the shedding.

This time away helped me. I could look at ways I could style my hair to reflect a little part of the old me - the pre-child Patti, the pre-balding Patti.

Image: Supplied. 

Now I rock the head wraps, as I accepted (in my own time) that it is a part of the journey of motherhood, and now I am grateful.

Patti is a staunchly proud Papua New Guinean mother of one who is passionate about financial literacy and advocates for generational wealth within the Pacific Islander community. 

As an outspoken WOC working in a predominantly male (white) industry, she has navigated through the tech space, working with Google and Facebook. From leading development teams to launching new solutions into the market, she has kept true to her culture and heritage by wearing her afro out and upholding her feminist viewpoints. 

You can follow Patti on Instagram here.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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