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Hair and Nail Changes in Pregnancy

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Two Physical Changes that You may Welcome

Learn about your hair and nail changes in pregnancy

Some of the changes that you experience in pregnancy are not welcome, and they can be unpleasant. However, there are two physical changes that you may welcome whole-heartedly: the development of thicker hair and faster growing nails.

Hair Changes in Pregnancy

One of the more pleasant changes that occur in pregnancy is the appearance of thicker, more luscious hair. Starting in the second trimester, you might glow with pride at the sight of a healthy, full head of hair.

Your beautiful locks aren't the result of more hair growth during pregnancy. It's quite the opposite. The heightened level of hormones keeps your hair from falling out like it should.

Normally, your hair grows in a repetitive cycle comprised of three phases – the active, growing phase (called the anagen phase), where your hair grows around one centimeter every month; the transitional (catagen) phase, in which hair growth stops; and the resting (telogen) phase, when your hair just sits there until it naturally falls out and is replaced by new hair. A normal person will shed between 25 and 100 hairs each day.

When you're pregnant, your hormones lengthen the growing phase and delay the resting phase of the cycle, so more hair is growing and fewer hairs are shed everyday. As a result, you are blessed with thicker locks when you're expecting.

Some women don't notice any change in their hair volume in pregnancy, but they find that their hair gets shiner. Others notice that their locks change their texture (curls becoming straight and vice versa). Every woman and each pregnancy is different. You might not notice anything different about your hair in your first pregnancy, but the next one brings very noticeable changes.

Enjoy your beautiful locks during pregnancy – this change won't last forever. In the weeks and months after you give birth, it's not uncommon for women to start losing more hair than normal. For example, instead of just shedding 100 hairs a day, you may shed upwards of 500 hairs daily! This postpartum change is unwelcome, but it's absolutely normal. Your hair growth will return to normal within six months after you have your baby.

To keep your hair and body hair in check, you can employ personal grooming techniques, such as plucking unwanted hair, waxing, and shaving any hairy areas. Plucking, teasing, waxing, and shaving are perfectly safe during pregnancy.

You will want to stay away from any bleaches or chemical depilatories when you are expecting. These chemicals can be absorbed in your skin and cross the placenta to the developing baby.

Nail Changes in Pregnancy

Your nails aren't immune to the pregnancy changes occurring in your body. It's not uncommon for pregnant women to have brittle nails that tend to split or break more easily. On the other hand, some expectant mothers find that their nails are harder than before pregnancy. If you're one of the lucky ones, you may find that your nails are growing faster than ever before.

Like with many of the other pregnancy changes, your nails will go back to normal after you have your baby.

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