It was Halloween, and I was spending yet another sleepless night on my couch in front of the television. Five months into my pregnancy with my first child, I was already discovering my little one's marked preference for nighttime games of kickball inside my ever-expanding belly. While watching a marathon of old 1930s horror movies on a classic movie channel, a sudden apparition arrested me. There was Elsa Lancaster in the Bride of Frankenstein, newly awakened by her master, her hair looking like she had just run her wet fingers through an electrical outlet. Later, as I stared at my own mirrored reflection, I thought, "I could have played her stand-in!"
How Pregnancy Affects Your Hair
Pregnancy brings a great deal of hormonal changes to a woman's body. This steady fluctuation of hormonal levels is known to cause emotional and physical transformations, most commonly taking a toll on the hair of both moms-to-be and new moms.
Although these changes are only temporary and generally subside well after a postpartum period, they come at a woman's most vulnerable and emotionally fragile time when she may want and need to look good. If you too are wondering what's normal and what's not, here are some answers to common pregnancy haircare questions.
Why the Changes?
Any changes in the estrogen hormonal balance, such as those brought about by the use of birth control pills (or other hormonal birth control), weaning from the breast, a miscarriage, abortion, or an imbalance of the estrogen hormone, can affect a person's hair.
According to the March of Dimes, when you're not pregnant, the hairs on your head grow in a regular cycle. Each individual hair grows about one-half inch per month for anywhere from two to six years. Then hair enters a "resting" phase for two to three months. After which, it gradually falls out (generally when you brush or wash it) and makes way for new hair to grow in.
Thicker Hair: During pregnancy, it is believed that high estrogen levels extend the "anagen" or growth phase of the hair, while slowing down the "telogen" or resting phase to where hair that would normally have been shed continues to rest.
This explains why some expectant mothers experience thicker, more luxurious hair, while others find that their previously manageable hair is growing totally out of control.
Oily or Frizzy Hair: Depending on your personal genetic make up, during pregnancy your oil-producing glands may either speed up or slow down production in accordance with your hormonal changes—causing otherwise straight hair to suddenly become wavy or previously dry hair to now be oily.
Sometimes, help from your local stylist along with a little beauty product investigation on your part can help you, too, survive this hair-raising "side-effect" of pregnancy!