By week 20 of your pregnancy, your hair and nails are more likely growing quicker than usual and faster than you can manicure them. You may also notice they feel slightly more soft, dry or brittle. Your hair is probably growing faster, too.
The downside of this hormonally-triggered hair situation is that you may suddenly sprout strands in places you would rather not, including your face, back, nipples and stomach. Don’t worry; most of the excess hair should fall out within six months of giving birth.
Some women also develop more hair on their chin, upper lip, cheeks, arms and legs during pregnancy. You also may notice new hairs (sometimes even just one or two) on your breasts, belly and back.
Hair growth on the face, arms and legs during pregnancy is normal. Pregnancy hormones and increased cortisone cause this type of hair growth during pregnancy. Around six months after the pregnancy, this growth will lessen, and then return to its regular growth cycle.
Those pregnancy hormones, particularly estrogen, are to blame for the changes in your nail and hair growth, making your hair grow faster and be less likely to fall out. The increased blood circulation and your pumped-up metabolism, which are bringing more nutrients to your hair and nails, also deserve some thanks.
The hair on your head may appear thicker while pregnant. This is because higher hormone levels, particularly estrogen, prevent normal hair loss.
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- Your hair tends to stay in the resting phase longer than usual.
- Most hairs are in the resting phase at any one time.
- Fewer hairs fall out each day, causing your hair to seem thicker and fuller.
When you are not pregnant, the hairs on your head grow in a regular cycle. Each hair:
- Usually grows about 1/2 inch per month for anywhere from 2 to 6 years.
- Then goes into a “resting” phase for 2 or 3 months, in which the hair stops growing.
- Then gradually falls out, usually when you are brushing or washing your hair.
- The growth cycle then starts again. At any one time, about 10 percent of the hair on your scalp is in a resting phase, and about 90 percent is growing.
Keep in mind that like all of the pregnancy symptoms you are experiencing, the changes to your hair and nails are temporary. So your nails will likely return to their normal growth rate and texture within three to six months after delivery. Even though you may love your beautiful hair now, do not get too attached. These symptoms will end when the normal daily hair loss that is suppressed during pregnancy resumes. Once your baby is born, all that hair that did not fall out during pregnancy will begin falling out.
4 things to have a healthier head of hair during pregnancy and after delivery
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These foods may provide protection for the hair shafts and encourage hair growth.
- Be gentle with your hair when it is fragile and wet. Avoid fine-tooth combs.
- Avoid using blow dryers and other heated hair instruments. If you must use a hair dryer, use the cooler settings.
- Avoid pigtails, cornrows, tight braids and tight hair rollers. They can pull and stress your hair.
Here is what you should keep in mind when it comes to washing and drying all your extra hair during pregnancy.
- Keep it steady. Your large belly and balance will may make it harder for you to wash your hair in the shower. Like leaning back to rinse your hair or bending over to blow it dry a tad more challenging and potentially dangerous if you lose your balance.
- Take your time. Also factor in the potential for postural hypotension: The drop in blood pressure and dizziness that can result when you bend over and get up quickly.
- Stay cool. Do not make yourself even hotter by blasting your hair dryer on high with the bathroom door closed. Opt for the warm setting instead and leave the door open so cool air can circulate. That way you will avoid getting clammy or dizzy, and you might just reduce the frizz factor as well.
- Remove hair carefully. Not all hair removal methods are pregnancy-approved, so make sure to read labels before using products or services while pregnant.
To get rid of unwanted hair growth
- Tweeze, wax or shave, which are all safe during pregnancy.
- Avoid using bleaches or depilatories during pregnancy. They can be absorbed into the skin.
- Permanent hair-removal techniques (such as electrolysis) are thought to be safe during pregnancy, but they can be painful or uncomfortable.
It may be exciting when you begin to notice your long and luscious hair, especially if you have spent years of dreaming for it. Remember that it probably will not last forever, so enjoy it while it lasts. On the other hand, hair growth during pregnancy, in areas you are not too thrilled about will come and go too!