Thursday, October 31, 2013

Caring For Your Hair While You're Pregnant

There will be times during your pregnancy when looking your best becomes a lower priority than normal. This is especially true as you enter the third trimester. Your body may start to feel unwieldy and cumbersome; your balance will be less the perfect; your energy levels may flirt with new lows. Given this, healthy-looking hair can do wonders for your mood.

Moms-to-be can expect to see dramatic changes in their hair while pregnant. Unfortunately, the hormonal changes taking place inside your body make these changes slightly unpredictable. In this article, we'll explain why pregnancy influences the appearance and texture of your hair. You'll also learn whether using chemicals for coloring and perms is safe for you and your baby. Lastly, we'll describe what you can expect from your hair after welcoming your little one into the world.

What's Behind The Changes?

Estrogen is the main culprit. While you're expecting, this hormone helps to regulate your body. But its levels can fluctuate, which is the reason your hair begins to change.

Typically, every strand of hair on your head goes through a predictable growth cycle. The strand will grow approximately one-half inch each month for a few years. Following this period, it stops growing (or, does so very slowly) for a few months before falling out. Once the strand falls out, a new strand takes its place within the follicle.

Most women see two changes in their hair during their pregnancy. First, it grows thicker than normal. This is likely due to a spike in estrogen, which results in each strand growing faster and lasting longer (i.e. falling out less frequently). Second, hair becomes either oily or dry. This, too, is due to an increase in estrogen, which causes the oil glands on your head to produce oil more quickly or slowly than normal.

For many moms-to-be, this change in their hair's appearance and texture can be startling. Some venture to the salon to explore their options.

Are Chemicals (Colors And Perms) Safe During Pregnancy?

The general rule is that pregnant women should avoid any type of chemicals during the first three months. It is during this period that doctors believe unborn babies are most susceptible to side effects.

A lot of expecting women opt to use temporary solutions as an alternative to chemicals for coloring their hair (henna is a popular choice). Keep in mind similar chemicals may potentially be found in these solutions. The safest route is to simply eschew colors until your second trimester.

Receiving a perm following your first trimester can produce unpredictable results. For example, if your hair is especially dry because your oil glands are producing less oil, you may experience breakage or frizziness. Ask the salon if you can do a test on an isolated lock of your hair prior to having a full perm done. That will give you a good idea regarding what to expect from the chemicals.

Your Hair After Childbirth

After you give birth to your baby, you might experience significant hair loss. Even though this is common for new mothers, watching clumps fall out can be shocking. The reason, again, can be traced to estrogen; instead of levels rising, they're falling. Fortunately, the effect is temporary and usually passes after a few months.

During your pregnancy and following childbirth, you can help preserve your hair's health by watching your diet and hormone levels. Also, if your hair is excessively dry, consider shampooing it once every two days rather than daily. Treat it with care when it's wet since this is when breakage is most likely to occur.

The takeaway is this: your hair is going to change while you're pregnant. The nature of these changes is anyone's guess. With a little extra care and attention, you can help your hair retain its original health and luster.

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