Every person you ask will tell you a slightly different story, however, there is a scientific reason behind the observation that hair grows a little thicker and faster during pregnancy. Firstly, you need to remember the hair growth phases:
HAIR GROWTH PHASES
All hair has three growth phases:
1. Anagen phase: hair growth
Can last 1 to 10 years, but is 4 to 7 years on average. According to The Science of Black Hair, 88% of the hairs on your head are in the anagen (growth) phase at any one time.
2. Catagen phase: hair resting
Lasts anywhere from 4 weeks to 4 months; 1% of the hairs on your head are currently in the catagen (resting) phase.
3. Telogen phase: hair shedding
11% of the hairs on your head are currently in the telogen (shedding) phase. These hairs either come out on their own or are pulled out during styling. If you have braids or dreadlocks the shed hairs don't fall out because they are restricted from doing so.
It is normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs per day if you are not pregnant. The average head of hair has 100,000 hairs on it so don't worry this is not enough for you to go bald.
What Happens To Hair Growth Phases DURING Pregnancy
When you get pregnant the surge in hormones causes hair to get locked in the hair resting phase and normal shedding does not occur. That is, the telogen phase is prevented from occurring during pregnancy. In fact, according to AmericanPregnancy.org “during pregnancy, an increased number of hairs go into the resting phase.” I interpret this to mean more hairs than usual.
I recently braided my hair and the amount of hair on the comb after a blow dry was ridiculous; it was literally nothing. I would expect to shed 6 or 7 times what I saw on the comb without worrying but I lost very little.
I had just washed and conditioned using the Queen of Kinks product line and I would have loved to put it all down to that but I knew pregnancy had a lot to do with it.
In addition, many pregnant women are encouraged to take pregnancy vitamins especially in more developed economies. These help to nourish hair and aid in hair growth.
If you’re not taking vitamins, a deficiency might occur because more of your resources are taken up by the development of your baby. In this case you can incur hair loss during pregnancy despite the surge in hormones that stop the shedding process.
What Happens To Hair Growth Phases AFTER Pregnancy
According to AmericanPregnancy.org the most common period of pregnancy related hair loss occurs approximately three after the delivery. Hair that was trapped in the resting phases during pregnancy may even all fall out at once! Ouch. This is apparently normal and hair does return to its normal growth cycle within 6 to 12 months of delivery.
What is Telogen Effluvium?
This whole process in which hair sheds “excessively” following birth is called Telogen Effluvium. It can happen 1 to 5 months after pregnancy but as mentioned above the 3 month point is the most common time when it happens.
Do all mothers experience Telogen Effluvium?
No, just 40-50%. Well, I say just but that is a heck of a lot.
What has been my experience?
I am 37 weeks pregnant now. At the start of pregnancy I thought my hair was unusually dry but this passed after about three months. Did my hair grow faster during pregnancy? No, I don’t think so. Was my hair thicker during pregnancy? I think it has been a little thicker, yes. I’d love to “woop woop’ right now but I’ll wait until 6 months post pregnancy to see if it lasts before I celebrate.
Please share your experience in the comments section.
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward