How to Wear Your Hair During Labor

It may not be the first thing on your mind, but have you considered how you will do your hair for labor and birth? If it doesn’t matter one bit to you, this may not be the blog post for you. And in the big picture, how your hair looks doesn’t mean much about what kind of person or parent you are.

But maybe you’re someone who feels more put together if your hair is styled, or you are considering how you’ll look in the photos of your new family right after birth. Maybe you take your hair really seriously or you just have some fun with how it looks. No matter your perspective, read on for things to consider when it comes to your hair in advance of your baby’s birth.

Hair Changes During Pregnancy

The way I knew I was pregnant with my second baby was that the curl pattern in my hair changed. So about a week before I could even confirm pregnancy with an at home pregnancy test, I had my hair go from medium curly to slightly wavy. Super weird, right? But also, it turns out, not unexpected given the hormonal changes that occur almost immediately during pregnancy.

You may have noticed similar changes, maybe in the moisture content or texture of your hair over the course of your pregnancy. Maybe you’ve figured out how to manage your new pregnancy hair or maybe you haven’t. If you need help, consult a stylist, a hair savvy friend, or the internet, which is full of tutorials about styling all kinds of hair.

Hair During Labor and Birth

Even if you have your hair pretty well figured out for the daily work of growing a baby during pregnancy, the process of labor and birth is likely to be one of the most physically taxing events of your life. As such, you might want to think about a style that can stand up to intense physical activity. Labor can be long—sometimes lasting for multiple days—and wet, given all the sweat, bodily fluids, and water, which can be a great pain relief tool but is perhaps not so great for hair.

Here are some hairstyles to consider for your birth:

  • Pixie cut: if you’re someone who already has short hair or has always wanted to go short, pregnancy could be a great time. Advantages of this cut include that it will likely still look great if it gets wet or sweaty, that it’s likely very quick to style, and it will stay out of your face during labor. Disadvantages are that short cuts take more maintenance—and thus trips to the salon—than longer ones. This may not matter during pregnancy, but after baby is here, you may not be able to make the time, and growing out a short cut can be pretty annoying.
  • Braids or twists: braiding or twisting your hair may make for a style that lasts through labor and birth. If you can braid or twist your hair yourself, it might make for a good early labor project—that is, something to do when your contractions haven’t picked up yet. If you get your hair professionally braided, perhaps you can schedule something for a bit before your due date as a way to go into early parenting feeling great about your hair. Like a pixie cut, braiding or twisting could help your hair stay out of your face during labor and birth. One disadvantage of this style is the difficulty of timing it right if you’re getting it professionally done—you could go into labor before your appointment comes up or it could come undone before your baby decides to make their appearance.
  • Pulled back on a whim: if you have long hair, you might start labor with it down, but if it gets in your face, you might get really annoyed. Things to pack in your birth bag so that you have the option to pull your hair back include a brush or comb, hair ties, and bobby pins or clips to catch stray hairs. A cute scarf tied around your head can help elevate the quickly pulled back look, so maybe throw one of those into your bag, too.
  • Blowout or curly styled: The term “blowout” will have a different, diaper-related meaning after baby is born, and styling your hair extensively is probably not the best hair strategy for during labor. But a blowout or carefully styling your curly hair might be a good option for your hair during birth if you’re planning a scheduled c-section or surgical birth, as you’re much less likely to be sweaty or wet if you don’t plan to labor at all.
Abby Olena
Dr. Abby Olena has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She lives with her husband and children in North Carolina, where she writes about science and parenting, produces a conversational podcast, and teaches prenatal yoga.

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