Pregnancy — and the fluctuating hormones that come with it — can bring changes to your hair. With a little luck, at least some of these changes will be welcome, unlike morning sickness and swollen ankles. Here’s a rundown of what to expect from your hair during pregnancy.
In the thick of it. Many women find that their hair — along with their waistline — becomes thicker when they’re pregnant. Hair can get shinier too. (Better-looking hair can contribute to that “glow” some lucky women get when pregnant.) That’s because higher estrogen levels slow your hair’s shedding process, so hairs that would normally fall out stay on your scalp, thickening your locks.
The down side. After you deliver your baby, or after you stop breastfeeding, your estrogen levels will return to normal, and you may find your hair thinning as you shed the hair you held onto during pregnancy. After this first round of shedding, your hair will return to its normal growing and shedding cycle, at least until your next pregnancy.
The straight and narrow. Many women find their hair texture changes while pregnant. Straight hair might get a bit of bounce or even full-fledged curls; curly hair might go straight. Enjoy the change while it lasts, and simply modify your hair-care routine during pregnancy — your hair is likely to return to its normal state after your baby is born.
Oily or dry? You might find changes in the moisture levels of your hair along with changes in its texture. If you’re lucky, your hair might move in the direction you want. But anything can happen — oily hair can get more oily, and dry hair can dry out even more. You’ll need to pay attention to the direction your hair is taking and possibly modify your shampooing and conditioning routine — or even change products.
The color conundrum. Talk to your doctor about coloring, perming, or relaxing your hair during pregnancy. Some docs prefer to have you wait until after the first trimester, or even hold off until after delivery, to avoid the possibility of having your baby exposed to the chemicals in utero. If you choose to treat your hair, make sure your stylist knows you’re expecting. He or she can keep contact between the chemicals and your scalp to a minimum. (Contact with your hair poses no risk.) You might also want to switch to highlights or lowlights during your pregnancy, since these treatments are less likely to touch your scalp.
If you opt for coloring, perming, or relaxing during your pregnancy, keep in mind that the fluctuating hormone levels may make your hair respond differently than it normally does. Talk to your stylist to see what he or she recommends at this stage.
What’s your style? Some moms-to-be, especially first-timers, switch to a shorter cut during pregnancy, figuring it will be easier to care for in the hectic weeks after the baby is born. But think twice about a drastic change at this time. If a new look is what you want, that’s fine, but don’t change styles just to simplify your routine. And remember, long hair can easily be pulled back in a ponytail or bun, making hair care simple before and after the baby is born.