After the positive pregnancy test, the well-wishes, the morning sickness, the joy you can’t quite contain and the raging hormones, you still have to do your hair. I have about 8 weeks left to my second pregnancy. Based on my experiences a few years ago with my son, there are a lot of things I’m glad I knew about pregnancy related hair care this time around.
The Inside Scoop
For one—there’s the basic science of what’s happening now that you are growing a human. According to the book The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care, (Davis-Sivasothy, Audrey (2011-04-11) (P. 35) there are three basic stages of hair growth:
- A growing phase (anagen),
- A resting phase (catagen) and
- A shedding stage (telogen).
The amount of time your particular hair follicles may spend in any given stage is determined largely by genetics. Hormones play a key role when it comes to hair growth and as those of you with growing baby bumps know—we are full of hormones. The increase in pregnancy hormones is designed to prepare our bodies to give birth.
It just so happens that pregnancy hormones typically lock us into the “anagen” or the growing phase and “catagen” or resting phase.
This means that hairs that were getting ready to shed (the “telogen” phase) don’t actually start shedding on schedule. So in addition to growing crazy amounts of hair (darn near everywhere…) we also don’t shed the typical amount of hair that we do when we are not pregnant.
This is largely the reason why most pregnant women experience a dramatic increase in hair growth and retention.
Roughly three – six months after the baby bump makes his or her appearance into the world, our hormone levels drop. Dramatically. Like dive of a cliff type of decrease.
During this period we enter the “telogen” phase…which is science speak for saying, honey if ever you were going to experience hair shedding, you are going to experience it during this time.
What To Do While You’re Expecting: Maintenance
My hair has been growing like its on speed. But how does turning into Black-punzel impact my hair care regimen? I typically get a trim every 3 – 4 months. But since growing Baby Girl Favors, my ends have needed more attention than usual.
I can tell that my hair needs trimming when my ends are rough and looking raggedy. If you hold up the ends of your hair to the light and see lots of splitting then you need to get those split ends handled. I know that many of us still like to hold on to length but if you don’t cut off the split ends then your hair becomes much weaker than it ordinarily would and that weakness travels up your hair shaft.
What To Do While You’re Expecting: Nutrition
I’ve also had to increase my nutrient supplements. In addition to taking my prenatal vitamins (ladies – if you take nothing else away from this post, puh-lease take those prenatals!) I also take an Omega-3 supplement and drink at least one green drink daily.
Omega-3’s are important for hair care (especially during pregnancy) because as noted by NaturallyCurly.com:
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are vital to every cell in the body. The benefits of omega-3 extend to the heart, breast, bone, brain, hair and skin health, without any of the side effects of prescription drugs. That’s not just essential—it’s miraculous!
Omega-3 has gained attention for its ability to combat dry and brittle hair, hair loss, dry, flaky scalp and reduced circulation to the scalp. The benefits of omega-3 EFAs include adding luster, sheen and elasticity to your hair. Both DHA and EPA are vital for the nourishment of hair follicles. Omega-3 can help restart hair growth, help hair grow quicker and stronger—even prevent or reverse hair loss.
You can buy Omega-3’s formulated especially for pregnancy from any reputable health food store.
I take the green drinks because frankly the baby bump is pulling a lot of nutrients out of your body. Even though I eat salad and veggies like a crazy woman, I also know that most of the vegetables in this country are severely depleted due to pesticides and other harmful chemicals. The green drinks ensure that I’m getting the most out of my super foods.
What To Do While You’re Expecting: Hydration
Ok, if you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: natural hair needs moisture! If you’re seeing an OB/GYN, midwife or doula worth their salt, then you are constantly being told that since you’re pregnant you need to drink tons of water.
Personally my goal is to drink a gallon of water a day (which is about 16 cups). In actuality I usually get up between 10 and 12 cups a day. Which might sound like a lot until you consider the fact that Baby Girl Favors is using a lot of that water to get her growth spurts on.
Add to that the fact that much of the country is just heat wave hot and you realize that you’re loosing a lot of water via perspiration. So bottoms up ladies. Travel with your water bottle and get your drink on.
What about you? How do you manage to keep a healthy head of hair while simultaneously growing a little human? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
And if you’re looking for more thoughts from an Afro State of Mind, check out my book on Amazon.com in paper back or e-book!