The hormonal fluctuations associated with pregnancy affect more than just your taste buds - they also affect your hair, skin and nails. This blog contains information to learn which changes you can expect during pregnancy.
Things will be different the instant you notice you missed your menstrual cycle. Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be scary and sometimes confusing.
Not only will you notice that you're preparing to breathe new life into the world, but you'll also experience some unexpected bodily changes. During the first few weeks, your abdomen begins to grow and other parts of your body may swell with it.
Your hormones are anything but balanced and you'll notice that certain foods and smells will make you very hungry or make you run to the bathroom.
Your hair grows in a predictable cycle, but pregnancy hormones can interrupt that cycle and cause unexpected changes.
Healthy hair grows at a rate of about 1 to 1.5 cm per month. Healthy hair grows for a period of three to five years before entering a resting phase that lasts two to three months. After the resting phase the hair falls out and the whole cycle repeats itself. During pregnancy, your hair can stay in the growth cycle longer than normal because of an increase in estrogen hormone, which causes more hair to grow at the same time, and therefore you have more (thicker) hair.
Unfortunately, some women experience the opposite during pregnancy - an elevated estrogen level causes hair to move prematurely from the growth phase to the resting phase. During this time you may experience decreased growth and more hair loss.
After childbirth, estrogen levels return to normal and hair loss can occur during the resting phase. This results in a condition called telogen effluvium and this usually happens after one to five months postpartum. Most women find that this increase in hair loss is temporary and that the hair's normal growth pattern is resumed by the time the baby is 12 months old.
Here are some simple tips to keep your hair healthy during pregnancy:
Besides following the above tips, you may also want to avoid dyeing your hair during pregnancy. There is no conclusive evidence that hair dyeing is dangerous for babies and it is unlikely that your hair will absorb enough chemicals to affect you (other than your hair) or your baby. You may not want to use chemical hair products during pregnancy or at least not during the first 3 months.
Pregnant women would often have a (pregnancy) glow about them, but where does it come from?
When you become pregnant, your blood volume increases to provide extra blood supply to the uterus and fetus. Increased blood flow brings more blood to the blood vessels in your skin and increases secretions in the oil glands. This, in combination with a slight accumulation of fluid, causes stretching of the skin and hot flushes, which creates pregnancy glow.
Although many women experience improvements in their skin during pregnancy, some women are not so lucky. Some women find that their skin becomes drier and more prone to pimples. Many women even notice that their skin generally darkens, possibly due to an increase in estrogen and melanocyte (certain type of skin cell) stimulating hormone levels.
Some other skin changes you may experience during pregnancy include:
Because your skin will change during pregnancy, you may need to change your skincare routine.
Start each day with a cleanser to remove excess oils. Then apply a daily moisturizer with a sunscreen of at least SPF 15. If you suffer from acne, try products containing glycolic acid, alpha-hydroxy acid, or witch hazel to soothe the skin.
Important note: retinoids are a common ingredient in anti-aging skin care products because they stimulate collagen production and accelerate cell renewal. However, dermatologists do not recommend retinoids for pregnant women, as they may harm the unborn child. This is confirmed by a 2018 report submitted by the European Medicines Agency.
If you suffer from brittle nails, perhaps a pleasant surprise awaits you. Pregnancy hormones cause many women to develop stronger, faster growing nails. Unfortunately, some women experience the opposite - brittle nails that are prone to splitting and breaking.
The sudden influx of pregnancy hormones often causes accelerated nail growth, but for some women that growth is accompanied by grooves, brittleness and onycholysis (nail shedding): separation of nails from nail bed. Fortunately, these changes are usually temporary and your nails return to normal after giving birth. But what can you do in the meantime?
Here are some simple tips for healthy nails during pregnancy:
Pregnancy can be a stressful time when you feel you have no control over your own body. Taking a day to pamper yourself in a spa/ nail salon is a great way to relax and unwind. Avoid poorly ventilated nail studios and make sure the salon follows standard disinfection methods to reduce the risk of bacterial infection.
If you are well prepared for changes in your hair, skin, and nails during pregnancy, these changes can be addressed a little more easily. But keep in mind that 40 weeks is a long time and you will undoubtedly experience other changes.
Here are some other surprising changes you can expect during pregnancy:
Becoming pregnant causes a whirlwind of change. While some of these changes can be unpleasant or downright uncomfortable, it's all worth it for the privilege of revitalizing the world.
Parenthood is a noble calling and it comes with growing pains, but you don't have to sit back and watch your body change without your consent. With what you have learned here, you can prepare yourself for the inevitable changes in your hair, skin, and nails so that you can look and feel good during your pregnancy.