For many women, their identity is tied to their hair and their hair is tied to their sexuality. However, health issues may arise where our hair becomes secondary to our bodies' needs, especially when it relates to pregnancy.
During pregnancy, some women will experience changes in their hair due to an increase in the level of estrogen hormones. Many pregnant women experience luxurious locks because their hair grows faster and it falls out less.
Some women may find a change in their hair color, texture and degree of oiliness. This occurs because the extra estrogen in our pregnant bodies causes the hair to remain in the growth phase.
Along with the luxuriant tresses, unfortunately, some women may experience hair growth in less desirable locations like nipples, face, or belly.
These changes in your hair are generally not permanent. However, 40-50 percent of women may experience a significant loss of hair after they stop breastfeeding, or during the postpartum period. This excessive shedding process is called telogen effluvium and occurs one to five months after pregnancy.
The American Pregnancy Association has some recommendations for healthier hair and/or hair loss reduction during pregnancy and after delivery. It is important that you contact your doctor or health care provider before you add any supplements to your diet especially during pregnancy.
• Use shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica.
• Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies contain flavonoids and antioxidants which encourage hair growth and protect hair follicles.
• Avoid extra stress on your hair from pigtails, cornrows, hair weaves, braids and tight hair rollers.
• Avoid fine tooth combs.
• Be gentle when combing wet hair as it is very fragile.
• Use the cool setting on blow dryers and other heated hair instruments.
Americanpregnancy.org suggests supplementing your diet with the following nutrients:
• Vitamin B complex (probably safe)
• Vitamin C (probably safe)
• Biotin (possibly safe orally)
• Vitamin E (do not exceed the RDA amount)
• Zinc (unsafe when used orally in high doses)
If you dye or perm your hair, you may want to take a few precautions if you are pregnant. While very few studies have been conducted on different types of hair treatment during a pregnancy, it might be best to consult your medical doctor before you use chemicals that will come in contact with your skin.
Consider using a non-permanent vegetable dye (such as henna) or highlighting your hair because it uses fewer chemicals. Be sure to have your treatment done in a highly ventilated area and use gloves if you are using a treatment at home.
Remember that hair loss after pregnancy is only temporary and your hair should be back to normal approximately six months after giving birth.
"10 Things That Might Surprise You About Being Pregnant." KidsHealth - the Web's Most Visited Site about Children's Health. Ed. Steven Dowshen. The Nemours Foundation, 01 Nov. 2011. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.
"Hair Coloring During Pregnancy: No-No or No Big Deal?" KidsHealth - the Web's Most Visited Site about Children's Health. Ed. Joseph. The Nemours Foundation, 01 July 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.
"Pregnancy and Hair Loss." American Pregnancy Association. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.
Reviewed March 17, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith