Changes accompanying pregnancy make it a very trying time for many women. Some women enjoy it at every step, while others become overwhelmed and so disoriented that they have no time for ordinary health and beauty routines. While pregnancy might call for a few changes in lifestyle, like reducing strenuous exercise and alcohol consumption, it is also a time to give oneself the best personal care. No matter how busy one may be, they should not ignore their grooming. Taking care of the skin, hair and dressing could make pregnancy a happy and fulfilling time. Although hair often suffers when it is usually neglected during pregnancy, the following steps will ensure it remains healthy even after this period.
HAIR CHANGES DURING PREGNANCY
Higher oestrogen levels occur during the second and third trimester. During this period the hair may seem a little thicker and shinier than normal due to the increased levels of oestrogen extending the hair follicle growth phase. This means hair that would have normally reached the end of its growth cycle remains in the scalp instead of falling out. Most women experience increased hair growth during pregnancy. In the sixth and seventh month of pregnancy the hair might get drier than normal, partly due to sebaceous oil glands drying up as the oestrogen levels decrease. A pregnant woman will need to use a stronger conditioner and have regular deep conditioning to reduce the dryness.
HAIR LOSS AFTER BIRTH
After giving birth or weaning the baby, many women suddenly lose more hair than normal. This period of hair loss is referred to as post-partum hair loss. Oestrogen makes the hair’s growth phase longer. Hair usually takes two to three months from the growing stage (anagen) to the falling stage (telogen). During pregnancy, hair competes for nutrients with the foetus, denying the hair essential protein, iron and calcium vital for its growth and strength. Immediately after childbirth, the hormonal imbalance is corrected and oestrogen level returns to normal.
Pregnancy might mean worries over the expected bundle of joy, but you can still have great hair and enjoy the wait. Some determinants of the amount of hair lost include: maintenance of hair during pregnancy, vulnerability to hormonal changes in pregnancy and the amount of stress experienced during delivery. Giving birth can be very traumatic to the body, which could lead to hair loss even as a sympathetic nervous system releases corticosteroids (a hormone that reduces stress) to help the body cope with the strain. Breast-feeding can also contribute if the lactating mother does not take foods rich in iron and calcium. Lack of these minerals can also cause hair loss and dry brittle hair.
HAIR CARE DURING PREGNANCY AND AFTER BIRTH
Braiding: Most women are advised not to braid their hair three or four months into pregnancy and until a month or two after delivery as braiding leaves the hair very dry, fragile and brittle leading to hair loss. However, cornrows and braids can be done on the final days to delivery because during and soon after delivery one may not concentrate on their hair. Hair should be treated and conditioned before braiding.
Relaxing hair: Relaxing the hair during pregnancy should be done if the hair has enough growth to warrant relaxing. There is no evidence that relaxing the hair during pregnancy affects the foetus. To strengthen hair during pregnancy, weekly treatments must be done to give a boost to, and moisturise, the hair. An alternation between protein and moisture treatments is important to ensure full nutritional value for hair.
Usage of hair driers: Some people claim that pregnant women may not be comfortable sitting under a drier. If the pregnancy is problematic and necessitates bed rest, the salon stylist can dry and style hair without using a hood dryer. A low heat blow drier or natural air-drying may be the best option.
Essential tips: Use a protein-rich shampoo to minimise damage to hair. Do not wash hair daily unless it gets very dirty. After shampooing hair, condition it using a good quality conditioner to strength the hair. Use a wide toothed comb to gently remove tangles. Do not comb hair when wet and dripping as this could weaken it.
Diet: A pregnant woman’s diet must be well balanced for maximum hair growth and strength. Calcium is important for connective tissues, which ensure hair roots are firmly held in the follicle. Protein, iron and vitamins are important in the formation, maintenance and nourishment of hair.
A good combination of the right salon services and a healthy diet will give you glamorous hair during and after pregnancy. Get up, groom yourself and enjoy the pregnancy!