Everything Your Mother Never Told You About Hair Changes During and After Pregnancy
Pregnancy is quite the experience and full of surprise changes in your body from your head to your feet. Whether it’s your first child, your last, or one in between, you may find that your hair will go through as many changes as the rest of your body. Like all things kids, some changes are great, some not so great; some are temporary and others can be permanent.
A lot of women feel very alone with their hair changes during pregnancy, and a lot of my clients feel like they’re going bald or half crazy. Hormone changes are one of the biggest culprits in hair change, so trust me when I say that most women experience hair changes when they’re pregnant. I assure you, it’s all completely normal, but I’ve put together a list of the most common hair changes during pregnancy.
1. Hair Gets Thicker During Pregnancy
If there’s one big change that almost every woman reports during pregnancy, it’s thicker longer hair and awesome hair days. Thank those extra hormones, because it’s their job to make sure that baby in your body grows strong and healthy. A side effect is that the extra hormones shift your hair’s growth cycle, keeping your hair in the growth phase during your entire pregnancy. Basically, all that hair that you normally shed on a daily basis, stops falling out. You’ll find that you may not shed a single hair while you are pregnant.
Some research suggests that hair strands actually get thicker while a woman is pregnant. Meaning the diameter of each hair increases during pregnancy.
Unusual hair loss, while you are pregnant, happens to very few women. If you experience hair loss, this may be due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency, and mentioning it to your physician is highly recommended.
2. Hair Can Get Thinner After Pregnancy
The great hair days of thicker hair often disappear after the baby comes. The hair that was supposed to shed out during your pregnancy, get’s an eviction notice. Many women report losing their hair in literal handfuls three to six months after the baby is born or after they’ve finished breastfeeding the baby.
This postnatal hair loss can a mildly annoying experience or it can be dramatic and traumatizing. Let’s face it, postpartum is hard enough without feeling bald. Try not to get too upset, this shedding while recovering from your pregnancy is both normal and healthy. You are not, in fact, going bald. Hair typically returns to its mostly normal state after pregnancy.
You can lessen the blow of the big hair shed by taking great care of your hair after the baby is born. A healthy diet and continuing to take your prenatal vitamins can also help your hair stay healthy and full after pregnancy.
3. Texture Changes During and After Pregnancy
If you’ve been anticipating your pregnancy, chances are you’ve been taking prenatal vitamins long before your baby was conceived. Prenatal vitamins aren’t only wonderful for ensuring an ideal environment for your baby, but they also give your hair and scalp an extra vitamin boost, resulting in healthier, thicker feeling hair. Some women take a prenatal vitamin daily to simply boost their hair’s health.
During your first trimester, your hair might just go completely insane. Many women tell me that they feel like their hair is just different. Some people lose a bit of hair at the very beginning of their pregnancy, some people say their hair won’t cooperate, others say they’re hair seems to glow. As your pregnancy continues, don’t be surprised if the texture of your hair changes as well. It will start to feel thicker, healthier, and sometimes even curlier. Hormones are strange things, and as the hormone levels in your body surge, your hair will likely take notice.
After pregnancy, your hair’s texture will most likely go back to the way it was. An alarming number of women tell me that they didn’t have curly or wavy hair at all until after a pregnancy, or that their hair was curly until their children were born and are not straight. There does not seem to be any scientific proof or explanation of this phenomenon, but if you’re one of the women wondering, it’s completely possible and happens a lot.
4. Greasy Hair and Dry Scalp During Pregnancy
Sebum, which is a characteristic oil that your scalp produces, can absolutely change during pregnancy. Some women report a rise in sebum, but some report a drier, itchier scalp while pregnant. There doesn’t seem to be a norm, which is apparently quite normal. Everyone’s different, and it’s normal to experience scalp changes, just as you’re likely also experiencing changes in your skin’s moisture during your pregnancy.
5. Hair Color Concerns During Pregnancy
Can you color, highlight, perm, or relax your hair during pregnancy?
As a hairstylist, I’m not exactly qualified to tell you what you should or should not do to your hair during your pregnancy, especially when it comes to exposing your skin to chemicals. However, I will tell you exactly what I tell my clients.
This is definitely a discussion to have with your doctor. Some recommend stopping altogether, some say it’s okay to continue processing your hair, and others say to avoid chemical processes during the first trimester only. The reason the advice is all over the board is that there’s simply limited information out there on the effects of hair chemicals in pregnant women. There’s always a chance that your scalp could absorb the chemicals through your scalp and you could pass those toxins along to your growing baby. But, like I said, we don’t really know if that happens or not.
Bottom line, do your study and talk to your doctor. In the end, it’s up to you, your doctor, and your stylist. Off the scalp treatments like foil highlights/lowlights are a safer option than all-over color applications.
Do I color pregnant women’s hair at my salon? Yes, I do, but always after the above discussion. I typically will not, however, apply perms, relaxers, or keratin treatments to my client’s hair. Not only are those applied directly to the scalp, but they often come with harsh odors that are more concerning to me than scalp absorption. Some smoothing treatments release formaldehyde into the air as well, so I would avoid those at all costs just to be sure.
6. Hair Product Changes During Pregnancy
Pregnant women usually don’t require a change in daily hair products like shampoo, conditioner, and styling aids. However, if your hair has become unusually dry during your pregnancy, you may consider products that are more moisturizing or adding a hair oil to your regular routine. If your hair has become unusually greasy, a clarifying shampoo may be helpful.
If you use a medicated shampoo or prescription dandruff shampoo, talk to your doctor about the ingredients, as some aren’t recommended during pregnancy.
The only other concern about products during pregnancy is that your previously favorite aromas may become overwhelming while you’re expecting, and you may want to switch to a fragrance that you can tolerate.