How Pregnancy Transforms Your Tresses

Pregnancy changes your entire body, and your hair is no exception. Many women experience luxuriant growth and increased thickness, while others find that their once lively locks have become dull or limp.
Jennifer Bahney

If you find that your hair is growing fast and thick, you can thank the increased amount of estrogen in your body. This hormone signals your hair follicles to get growing and stop shedding. Increased estrogen also revs up your metabolism, which brings nutrients to your scalp as well as to your growing belly. In addition, many women eat better and take vitamins during pregnancy, which leads to healthy hair growth as well as a healthy body.

If your mane seems to change texture -- from straight to curly, from full to limp -- or won't take a perm, that's because the pregnancy hormones also affect the very structure of your hair. They get to the cortex, which is responsible for giving hair its curl and elasticity. According to one mom of a 17-month old baby boy, "About three months into my pregnancy, my hairdresser pointed out that my hair seemed thicker and curlier than before. And I had always had rather fine, straight hair."

Instead of trying to fight these changes, learn to work with them. Running to the salon every few weeks to trim back your new growth can be expensive and time consuming. Why not revel in your newly lush locks? Invest in some snazzy hair accessories to dress it up or wear it down in all its lustrous glory. If you find yourself suddenly wavy or curly, invest in products that help define the shape and fight frizz. Give limp locks a boost with thickening and volumizing products concentrated at the roots. If you're not sure where to begin, ask your stylist for tips and product recommendations.

To keep your hair and scalp in good condition, treat yourself to a soothing aromatherapy scalp massage once every few weeks. Simply add several drops of essential oils to one half cup of warm vegetable oil. Essential oils considered safe to use during pregnancy include lavender, neroli, patchouli, sandalwood and ylang ylang. Massage into your scalp and ends, then wrap your hair in a warm towel and relax for as long as you like.

Since hair is one of the first indicators of health, women suffering from severe morning sickness or poor eating habits should look to their hair for warning signs that they're not getting enough nutrients, especially iron. Even a small iron deficiency can lead to dry, brittle hair that's lighter than your natural color and falls out easily. If you notice any alarming changes in your hair, be sure to tell your doctor.

After the baby comes, don't be surprised if all that beautiful new growth begins to fall out. Many women notice increased shedding from three to six months after delivery; this is simply a sign of the body adjusting as hormone levels return to normal. It may take a couple of hair growth cycles (up to several years) before your texture completely returns to normal, especially if you wear your hair long.

Remember that everyone's body -- and hair -- react differently to pregnancy. Have fun with the changes and remember: Like pregnancy itself, they're only temporary.PregnancyAndBaby.com


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