Growing up, I always knew I wanted a big family. Being the middle child of four kids, and having a house full of differing dynamic personalities just made life that more exciting. I always had a sibling to play and feud with, not knowing these encounters with my “first friends” would guide me through building relationships throughout my life. Now I find myself continuing my lifelong dream and extending my family with another baby on the way. This pregnancy has been as unexpected as the first time around, but we cannot be any happier. As the weeks fly by, my little bump is growing rapidly and I even started feeling fetal movement very EARLY at about 14 weeks to be exact. With my first pregnancy, I didn’t feel movement until deep into my second trimester. Consequently, with each pregnancy a mother can distinguish the little movements they experience and are less likely to dismiss it as stomach rumbling. Also, with this being my third time around, I had some knowledge about pregnancy and how it affects not only my body, but also, my hair.
During pregnancy, our bodies go through a tremendous amount of changes due to a dramatic spike in hormones, which allows us to grow tiny human beings. The body is truly amazing! Normally, all the hair on our bodies go through three phases:
- Anagen (growing phase)
- Catagen (resting phase)
- Telogen (shedding phase)
Due to the increased hormone levels in our body, follicles are locked in the anagen and catagen phase. As a result, hair that is normally in the TELOGEN phase won't shed. This phenomenon gives expecting moms increased fullness and length. Unfortunately, the telogen stage lasts only as long as it takes to give birth to our little blessings. Contrastingly, after giving birth (at about 3 to 6 weeks) our hormones dramatically decrease and the hair that was frozen in the resting state starts to shed, all at once. It is common for mothers to experience clumps of hair falling out. This is normal! Don’t have a “‘Waiting to Exhale’ moment” ladies. I’m here to convey some key ways to minimize shedding.
It is vital, to be proactive and show your locks extra care to keep them healthy and strong for the months to come after birth. I know…I know…. you’re hormonal, exhausted, and hungry but you can do this! I have a few gems that I want to share with my readers who may be pregnant or are planning a future pregnancy. As you may recall from my first blog post, I am a true believer that “annual trims save lives.” This is especially true during pregnancy. Although your hair is fuller and longer, that does not mean the ends don't need continuous maintenance. If you have a trim schedule you normally follow, I would continue that routine throughout pregnancy. Rough, split ends can lead to breakage, and who wants breakage on top of what's on the horizon in the coming months? I try to get my ends trimmed every 4-6 months. I had my last trim in April so I’m already planning my next trim for the end of this month.
Nutrition, is also key for not only healthy hair, but a healthy pregnancy. During pregnancy mothers are expected to take prenatal vitamins but I have found that this is not enough always. It is important to also take Omega 3’s during and after pregnancy. I always try to take an Omega 3/DHA prenatal formula vitamin, along with my whole-food organic prenatal vitamins daily. Also, an increase of iron deficiency is commonly prevalent during pregnancy, especially in the later trimesters. Eating foods rich in iron such as beans, spinach, and pumpkin seeds may not be enough. For that reason, doctors recommend taking an iron supplement as well. Supplements are always a great way to keep vitamin intake steady during pregnancy, but, are not a replacement for real food. Plant-based supplements and a good diet work together for your overall feminine health. This directly correlates to hair care too. Growing hair is healthy hair. Eating a balanced diet while pregnant and especially afterwards can help keep hair shedding to a minimum. I found this to be very true after having my son. He was a much bigger baby and to keep my milk supply up, I had to make sure I ate lots of fresh fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, and lean meats. I literally ate 5 meals a day with a late snack of almonds and cranberries nightly. I experienced less shedding with my second child than my first.
In addition, hydration is important in all stages of life, however, crucial during pregnancy and lactation. So, if you’re insatiably thirsty, drink water and if you’re not thirsty drink water lol. Drinking lots of water during pregnancy helps to deliver nutrients to your growing baby, but also to other parts of your body including your hair follicles. More water, disperses more nutrients, which leads to less shedding, eventually. It is recommended that a person drinks at least 8 glasses of water a day. A pregnant or lactating mother should drink at least 12-13 glasses a day. In addition to drinking water, you should also be hydrating your hair more frequently. Hair, during pregnancy and while nursing can become very dry because essential nutrients are not only being facilitated throughout your body, they are especially directed to your growing fetus and your definitive breast milk supply. It is important to keep up your hair care routines such as the LOC method while your is damp. I cannot say it enough, KEEP UP YOUR HAIR CARE ROUTINE to diminish shedding post birth.
Protective styling is an easy way to keep hair managed during those pregnancy and post birth months. Styles like twists, braids, cornrows, and buns can help ends stay protected during this time. However, it is important to balance between wearing these styles and letting your fro, kinks, coils, curls or waves out to breathe.
Hair can become overtly manipulated especially post birth. I wore buns excessively during my second pregnancy and noticed afterwards that the perimeter of my hair looked heat damaged, though I rarely straightened it. This stemmed from brushing the sides of my hair back into a top knot bun and smoothing my impressionable yet fragile edges. In fact, hair can experience a sort of muscle memory. I was left with sides that were straight or wavy except at the ends. Also, it is important to never wear braided styles that are tight on your precious edges, because these hairs shed as well, and more stress begets more shedding. I’ve heard from many of my pregnant readers who thought that their bomb box-braids would ensure that their hair would be healthier because of low manipulation, while contrastingly enough, this stress causes more damage than preservation to the hair. Braids are fine, but remember that if it seems too tight, it’s not right. Don’t play yourself. Take them down, because it is not worth the stress.
Motherhood is such a blessing! Just knowing that in the coming months you'll be welcoming a tiny person into your life, which will change your life as you know it, in the most amazing way. Moreover, pregnancy is a time to prepare for that little human being, bond with the children you already have, and give yourself the rest and nutrition you deserve. So, my message to the ladies that are embarking on this journey of motherhood, I wish you all the blessings you have coming. I sincerely hope that this post equips you with the essentials that will prepare you and help alleviate the low points that your hair may experience while pregnant and beyond.