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As your body prepares for motherhood, it goes through remarkable changes. From your growing belly to changes in skin appearance and hair texture, nothing remains the same. For most women, pregnancy improves hair's appearance and texture. But these changes are temporary and some women experience negative hair changes. Take some extra time during pregnancy to care for your hair. You'll feel better and your hair will stay healthier.
Most women notice an improvement in their hair during pregnancy. Hair seems thicker and fuller, and often grows more quickly. Some women notice that their hair seems to darken during pregnancy, although doctors aren't sure why.
"With pregnancy, most often hair gets thicker and healthier looking due to the fact that more hair follicles are in the active growth phase than normal," says Dr. Alan J. Bauman, a restorative hair surgeon from Boca Raton, Florida. "These ratios and skin/hair changes typically return to normal after childbirth, but not always."
Not all hair changes are positive, but most of them are temporary. Your hair will return to its normal state within a few months after pregnancy.
"Changes in hair and scalp are due to elevated hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy," says Bauman. "Some patients get drier hair and scalp, others oily. Sometimes there are changes in hair curl and texture. Skin changes -- dry/irritated, oily/acne-prone -- and hair growth in odd areas are common."
Another more alarming problem typically occurs after the birth of your baby. During pregnancy, elevated levels of estrogen prevented your hair from falling out as it normally does. After childbirth, estrogen levels drop and hair sheds excessively. This process peaks at around three months postpartum and then subsides.
Although you can't control hormonal fluctuations and their accompanying consequences, a few changes in your hair-care routine can help.
"For hair changes, you might need to use different products," says Bauman. "If hair becomes too oily, you need a deep cleanser, lighter conditioner and maybe a dry shampoo in between. If your hair is too dry, switch to a mild, moisturizing shampoo and a deep conditioner or a leave-in."
Avoid pigtails, hair weaves, braids or corn rows, which put stress on hair, and comb it gently, especially when wet. Let hair air dry if possible or set the blow dryer to a low setting.
Los Angeles-based nutritionist Julie E. recommends dietary changes to improve your hair's condition during pregnancy. She says, "Frizzy hair almost always suggests a nutrient deficiency. The best way to improve hair quality way is with an EPA/DHA and greens formula. There are many products on the market, but be sure the fish oil is mercury free. The label should state that it is mercury free, and it should be from waters not near North America -- or it is likely high in mercury."
Eat more fruits and vegetables, according to the American Pregnancy Association. These foods contain antioxidants that encourage growth and strengthen hair follicles. A prenatal supplement containing vitamin B complex, vitamin C, biotin, vitamin E and zinc can also help, but take the recommended amounts only.