Hair Growth and Care in Pregnancy

While the hair on your head may grow long, and full, the hair on the rest of your body may be growing a bit too much. This can be quite alarming, especially for a first time mom. The changes during pregnancy may cause just a little inconvenience. However, you may be wondering what to do with your beautiful new locks. You may also want to know how to safely remove any excess hair growth on other parts of your body. This article will help you understand these changes, share some other new moms’ experiences, and things you can do to help. 

What Causes Hair Growth During Pregnancy? 

It isn’t uncommon to find your hair very full and healthy during pregnancy. This is caused by hormonal changes that speed up hair growth and prevent hair loss. These are temporary effects, so enjoy them while you can. 

Increased estrogen changes the phases of hair growth. Your hair has 3 growth phases; it grows, then rests, then sheds. While only 10 percent of your hair is resting, 90 percent is growing when you are not pregnant. Estrogen delays the resting phase, and your hair remains in the growth phase. When pregnancy and/or breastfeeding ends and hormones normalize, excess hair growth stops. This results in excess hair loss after pregnancy. In a few rare cases, the process may be reversed in some women. They may lose extra hair and not have as much hair growth.

The one part of hair growth during pregnancy that isn’t fun, is hair growth on places you may not want hair to grow. These include:

  • Facial hair
  • Your abdomen
  • Your breasts/chest area
  • Your back
  • Upper thighs
  • On toes

This part is caused by different hormones. Your ovaries and the placenta step up the production of androgens, which are normally higher in males. The placenta begins to secrete these hormones around your second trimester, until you give birth. On a more positive note, this should all fall out within 3 months after delivery of your baby. 

Experiences of Other Women 

Here are some stories from other new moms:

“I had a strange experience that was different from my other friends who had excellent hair during pregnancy. My hair was always healthy before pregnancy, then after my second trimester it became very dry, and brittle. I lost my hair by the handful, and it became very frizzy. My entire pregnancy, I had to use extra conditioner and wash my hair less so the oils would build up.”

                                                               ---Tammy, mommy of Bella 6 months 

“I noticed tons of excess hair on parts of my body that I would rather not be hairy. My legs were hairy, my armpit hair grew faster, and I had little beard whiskers. I loved that my head hair was so long and thick, but the body hair was just plain gross. I used tweezers to pluck facial hairs, because my doctor advised against chemicals. It stopped growing and fell out when my baby was about two months old.”

                                                              ---Sarah, mommy of Jonathan 8 months

“I wanted to dye my hair for my sister’s wedding. I was told by my doctor that there weren’t enough studies to tell if hair chemicals were safe for baby or not, but that I should avoid it anyways. I found some great vegetable based hair dyes that worked great for a temporary color. They washed out pretty quickly, but they do work well in a pinch.”

                                                            ---Courtney, mommy of Emma 14 months

Pregnancy Hair Tips

Hair growth during pregnancy can make your hair harder to keep up. These tips will help make it more manageable:

  • Avoid Chemical Treatments

Remember, anything you put on your skin can be absorbed into your body in small amounts. If you need to keep up with coloring your hair to avoid “roots” showing, at least wait until after you complete your first trimester. If you have open areas or sores on the scalp, it is best to avoid chemicals on your head until they are healed. This increases the chance of chemicals being absorbed into the bloodstream.

One route that may be safe is either a henna or vegetable based dye. Keep in mind these are semi-permanent and may need to be refreshed often. You could also choose to cover bleached hair with a darker color to avoid “roots” coming up every few months. 

Always, ask your doctor about hair dyes, chemical straighteners, and bleaching your hair during pregnancy. Be sure you avoid any treatments that contain formaldehyde, a common chemical in straighteners.

  • Hair Removal

Be patient with excess hair on your body, other than your head. This growth slows down and stops after the baby is born. If you really need to get rid of it, use a non-chemical hair remover. It is perfectly fine to shave, tweeze, or use waxing techniques. Cream depilatories can be absorbed into the blood and have vapors that are not good to inhale.

Remember this is only temporary, but if you need to you can use a permanent type of hair removal with your doctor’s okay. Some women choose to go for laser removal or electrolysis. These are expensive, and may cause skin darkening in treated areas due to excess hormones in pregnancy. 

  • Regular Maintenance

Your new hair may grow in frizzy, and more brittle than usual. You may need to invest in a better shampoo and conditioner for the time being. If you have drier hair than usual, wash your hair less to allow oils to build up naturally. Some women experience extra oily hair during pregnancy. In this case, try washing your hair more times each week and skip the conditioner.

If you have chronic dandruff and are using a medicated shampoo, ask your doctor about a non-medicated alternative to use during pregnancy.

When to Contact Your Doctor

Hair growth during pregnancy is temporary most of the time. If you notice excess hair growth beyond the sixth month after you have a baby, you should contact your doctor to see if something else is going on with your hormones.