Managing Your Mane: Tips for Postpartum Hair Care

by Kellie Doligale

Pregnancy brings with it symptoms that no one is necessarily excited to discuss. The weight gain, mood swings and flatulence are comfortably swept under the rug. Fortunately, Mother Nature permits a few indulgences to the expecting woman, notably a full head of healthy hair.

Courtesy of the hormones seemingly running the body like gasoline, fewer hairs leave the scalp during pregnancy. Though it’s easy to run your fingers through this luscious new mane and feel like a Clairol model, it’s important to remember to treat your hair well so it stays healthy after your bundle of joy enters the world.

At any given time, 90% of hair is actively growing while the remaining 10% enters a resting phase before falling out. During pregnancy, hormones cause more hair to enter the resting phase without shedding. When hormones reach equilibrium post-partum, those rested hairs will finally fall out and appear to the new mother as impending baldness.

While pregnant, treat your hair with the same gentleness as your aching feet and breaking back. Try not to overwork it. If you’ve been a long-time user of dye, experts recommend resisting the urge during the first trimester. Though no one has ever proved that hair dye can harm a growing baby, the chemical smell may not be kind to a sensitive stomach at the very least.

If you find yourself in the salon chair, speak candidly with your stylist. Let her know that you may need to walk away from the surrounding fumes for a few moments, or ask to open a window for fresh air. If you prefer to dye your own hair at home, do so in a well-ventilated room and in moderation.

After welcoming your baby, you may find yourself missing those hormones when you start finding too many lost hairs clinging to your clothes, furniture and shower drain. The following are my tried and true tips for easing the process:

  • Treat your hair with as much care as possible. Wash it gingerly and avoid styling tools that use heat whenever possible.
  • Let your follicles rest when you do by not sleeping in a ponytail. Elastics tug at already-sensitive strands.
  • Use a mousse or other volumizing product to add body.
  • Consider a change. If you’ve been admiring a pixie cut or low-maintenance bob, a great time to try it is when you start finding dozens of hairs dangling from between your baby’s chubby, clenched fingers.

Enjoy the high points of pregnancy while they last, and try not to be disheartened when your body has to readjust afterward. You will probably find that the hair you ultimately care about most is the precious fuzz on your newborn’s noggin.