How pregnancy affects your hair

Okay, so science can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, but in small doses, it can be fascinating. This definitely applies to the subject of today’s post: how pregnancy affects your hair. If you fancy learning something that may never mean anything to you, but is something interesting to tell your friends all the same, read on.

If you, the reader, are a woman, chances are, you’re going to get pregnant. Not always- nobody said having children was a necessary aspect of anyone’s lifecycle- but a good overwhelming percentage of us will experience the pleasure (scoffs) of carrying a hefty baby around for nine months or so. With this being the case, you might find it valuable- or at least entertaining- to learn exactly what happens to your hair during those nine months.

If you’ve already experienced a pregnancy, you probably noticed how thick and shiny your hair was looking around that time. You might have even had people complimenting you on it, such is the appeal of the all-encompassing pregnancy glow. But then, after you gave birth- disaster! Your hair lost its temporary thickness, and, if anything, became thinner than ever.

This isn’t your mind playing tricks on you- hair growth really does change during and after pregnancy. Your hormones go into overdrive, causing hair to grow even in unwanted places, such as around your face, belly or nipples. The increased levels of oestrogen and androgen promote thicker, shinier hair- which unfortunately doesn’t last post-pregnancy.

Every single person’s hair goes through a natural three-stage growth cycle: growth, transition and rest. When you’re pregnant, your hair spends longer in the growth stage, which means it doesn’t shed when it usually would. This, in short, is why hair is so thick and healthy-looking during pregnancy.

Some women may notice other changes to their hair during pregnancy as well. Some may note a change in texture, with curly hair falling straight, or straight hair transitioning into curly. You might also notice your hair is greasier during pregnancy, and some people even find their hair changing colour due to an increase in melanin.

Once your hormone rollercoster has rode itself out post-partum, sadly, that’s when you will most likely have to wave goodbye to your thick, shiny hair. Your hair growth cycle will go back to normal, so you’ll start shedding hair at a normal rate again. This is why so many people think that their hair is thinner than ever after pregnancy- they may experience a sudden, dramatic hair loss that convinces them of that. In reality, your hair won’t usually be thinner than it was before pregnancy, even if it feels that way.

If you’re currently experiencing hair loss following a pregnancy, you might feel a bit shocked or distressed by it. Remember to stay calm and note that it won’t last forever. Even if your hair has fallen out quite quickly, leading to bald spots, everything should right itself out after a couple of months. In the meantime, continue to shampoo, condition and apply hair masks as you usually would, and you’ll be absolutely fine.

It’s worth noting that while most women will experience thicker hair during pregnancy, it’s not uncommon for it to go the other way, too. Sometimes, a lack of oestrogen, which can occur if you stop taking the pill, or simply from a hormonal imbalance, can cause hair to spend less time in the growth stage, which makes it shed more often and at a quicker rate.

All hair loss is nothing to worry about. It should return to its normal growth pattern by the time your baby is around 12 months old. As for if your hair changes colour- lightening is the most common- you might stick with your new colour for years after you’ve had your baby, or it might fade back to its usual shade eventually. The change shouldn’t be that noticeable, maybe just one or two shades lighter, and if you end up liking it, it’s a win-win situation all round.

The most important thing to remember, if your hair makes any sorts of changes during pregnancy, is that these changes are often not permanent. If you’d like more advice on how to look after your hair while you are pregnant, speak to your local salon professional. They’ll be more than happy to guide you on everything from the best products you should use, to things to avoid and things to look out for.

Laura Shallcross