What Should I Do About My New Pregnant Body Hair?

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Pregnant Body Hair

Welcome to the world of pregnancy body hair!

As women, we are all quite familiar with the hair removal process. We frequent laser hair removal salons, waxing centers, or have our own DIY waxing kits in our home bathrooms. The depilatory market is one of the biggest global markets, projected to reach 1.35 billion dollars by 2022. When becoming pregnant, you may notice some changes in your hair growth- don’t be alarmed!

Your hair may grow more quickly, have different texture, or even appear where there wasn’t any before.

You are not alone!

Hair increase and growth during pregnancy are mostly attributed to hormonal changes in the body. You may remember your laser technician telling you hair growth may come back during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. She was not wrong! Because of an increase in the hormone androgen, facial and body hair may grow faster and darker than usual. Androgens include male hormones such as testosterone and, although they are naturally present in females, they increase throughout pregnancy. It is the androgens that change where the hair grows on the body, often causing it to appear in unexpected places such as around the nipples or on your abdomen. Women often start experiencing pregnancy induced hair growth in the first trimester, when the levels of androgen in their body increases. Hair usually feels fuller than before because of relatively no hair fall during this period. During pregnancy, the increase in hormones causes the hair to stay in the resting phase longer. It thus results in the appearance of lustrous hair in addition to the appearance of more bodily hair. In addition to the increase in androgen, the daily intake of vitamins and larger meals can also be conducive to rapid hair growth.

Before getting pregnant, hair grows at a rate of about one centimeter (less than half an inch) a month, with 90 percent of it growing and falling out, while the remaining 10 percent lies dormant in a resting phase. However,  pregnancy alters this natural cycle. Estrogen can put a higher percentage of your hair into a resting phase. It may seem that it’s becoming thicker, but in reality, not as much hair is falling out.

Additionally, androgen and estrogen are also responsible for darkening of the skin, most often in a line called “linea nigra between your belly button and pelvis, around your nipples, and on your face – where it’s called chloasma. Not everyone experiences this hyperpigmentation, but if you do, you may feel that it makes your body hair appear more noticeable.

However, it is important to remember these are all very normal biological responses to pregnancy.

Yes, having a fuzzy belly during pregnancy is normal and perfectly healthy!

To get rid of any stray hairs you may find, you can safely tweeze, wax, or shave. However, avoid chemicals such as bleaches or depilatories, which could be absorbed into the bloodstream. Additionally, laser hair removal and epilating devices are not safe to continue during pregnancy either because of the lack of information on the effects these methods may have on the fetus. Although waxing is safe, it might be particularly more painful as your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, and repeated waxing can cause inflammation.

Your frantic shaving-inducing body hair won’t last for long!

Most of your pregnancy-induced body hair will fall out soon after your baby arrives, usually within the next six months.  After the baby is born, the hair growth cycle should return to normal. Most women lose a significant amount of hair in the postpartum period or after they stop breastfeeding because hormones are returning to normal levels and the rest cycle also goes back to its previous pattern. However, this hormonal leveling does result in significant hair shedding. It may take a couple of growth cycles before the hair returns to normal.

When to call your doctor:

If your body hair becomes notably thinner during pregnancy, you should see your doctor, as this could indicate a nutritional deficiency. And, if your body hair hasn’t returned to a normal growth pattern within six months of giving birth, visit your doctor to have your hormone levels checked.

Some pregnant women also experience severe hair shedding during pregnancy. It may be due to iron, protein, or iodine deficiencies.

Shoshi W.
Shoshi is an undergraduate student at Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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