Pregnancy results in a whole lot of changes in a woman’s body. You may expect normal pregnancy changes like an expanding uterus and enlarged breasts, but you might not consider other common factors like your heart rate speeding up from around 70 beats per minute to around 90 beats per minute, or the need to urinate much more frequently. One positive side effect of pregnancy is the tendency of your hair to grow lush and full. Unfortunately, like the rest of your body, this returns to normal after the baby is born, too.
Hormones play an important role in every woman’s body. They regulate your monthly menstrual cycle, stimulate growth, prompt hunger cravings, dictate sex drive and prepare the body for pregnancy and birth. Hormones are also involved in the growth cycle of head and body hair. You may find the hair on your head growing lusher and thicker as your pregnancy progresses. This is typically a result of hormonal changes in your body. You may also experience an increase of body hair for the same reason.
Each hair follicle goes through a normal, three-phase life cycle. The hair grows for between two and eight years, followed by a period of about a month when the hair shaft begins to degrade. A resting period of several months is followed by the growth period again. Normal hair loss of around 50 to 100 head hairs per day is common, as the new growth pushes the old hair shafts out. Hormonal changes, like those brought on by pregnancy, can dramatically affect the hair growth pattern.
Hormonal changes induced by pregnancy cause the hair follicles to remain in their resting period, rather than entering their normal new growth period. Since the old hair shafts are not pushed out by new growth, you may have the appearance of a fuller, thicker head of hair.
Once you have delivered your baby, your hormone levels will begin to return to their normal levels. This includes the hormones that kept your hair from entering its normal growth cycle. Without the hormones that maintained the hair follicles in their resting stage, the hair will begin growing again, which will push out the old hair shafts. This includes the hair that would normally be in the growth phase, as well as all of the hair that was delayed, resulting in the appearance of rapid or excessive hair loss.
At first blush it may appear that you are going bald. Don’t panic. New hair is growing in to replace the hair that has fallen out. The greatest amount of hair loss typically occurs within three to four months after delivery, and you will generally have your normal head of hair back within six to 12 months of delivery. If hair loss results in bald patches or hair does not begin to grow back in within six months, you may wish to consult your health care provider to determine if there is a different underlying cause of your hair loss.