How Fast Does Hair Grow During Pregnancy?
You might have noticed that some people tend to grow thicker, fuller hair when expecting a baby, but just how fast does hair grow during pregnancy? VEGAMOUR spoke with a medical professional to find out. Plus, discover what products you can use to help your hair look and feel its best.
Normal Hair Growth vs. Pregnancy Hair Growth
Average hair growth is about a half-inch per month or 6 inches per year, based on your genetic makeup and ethnicity. However, many women notice their hair grows faster than average while they are pregnant. So why does the hair of pregnant women grow faster? The additional growth might be due to the following changes that can happen while pregnant:
- Phases of hair growth: Hair grows based on cycles. Pregnancy may shift the hair cycles, resulting in periods of more rapid hair growth.
- Overall health: Pregnancy brings about health changes, which can affect your hair's rate of growth. Some experience faster hair growth, while others may experience the opposite effect — hair loss. Pregnancy may also affect underlying conditions you have, as well, which could impact your hair's health and growth rates.
- Nutrition: All the nutrients and prenatal vitamins may boost health (and subsequently, hair growth rate.) Likewise, deficiencies may pose a threat to your healthy hair growth.
- Hormonal changes: Pregnancy hormonal changes affect far more than your mood. You might find they give your hair growth a boost because the increased estrogen can cause your hair to stay in the growth phase longer. Shifts in androgens might also boost the growth of your body hair, which is totally normal. Shave off unwanted hair, but don't worry too much about laser hair removal or other costly body hair removal services during pregnancy. That fuzz may reduce after the pregnancy hormones dissipate.
Hair Changes During Pregnancy
As your body supports a developing baby, a variety of physical and hormonal changes occur, which can also affect your hair. Here's what you need to know.
It Might Seem Like You Have More Hair
VEGAMOUR spoke with BSN Brian Clark, the founder of United Medical Education, about some changes you may see in your hair growth and shedding while you are pregnant. Clark explained that during pregnancy, the hair stays in the growing phase for a longer period of time, which means less hair falls out than usual.
So, while your hair may feel thicker and lusher, it's not that you have more hair growing in or extra hair follicles now that you're pregnant but that your natural hair is just spending more time growing and is less prone to shed as quickly. Some studies even show slight increases in hair diameter during pregnancy.
You may see some other related changes during your pregnancy: harder nails, the development of stretch marks or a new growth of hair on your face or body. "Some people may observe hair development in places including their face, chest, belly and arms where they don't ordinarily have hair," said Clark.
How the Hair Growth Cycle Changes During Pregnancy
In addition to the hormonal changes, your hair may spend more time actually growing. This has to do with your hair's natural cycle of growth. Each hair goes through the same growth cycle, but not all of your hair is in the same growth cycle phase at the same time. However, when too much of your hair is in the shedding phase, your hair begins to look and feel thinner. Here's more about the four phases of your hair's growth cycle.
- Anagen phase: The growth phase where new hair is actively growing, nourished by active hair follicles. Hairs typically continue to grow in this stage from two to six years.
- Catagen phase: This phase means the hair has stopped actively growing. Only about 1% of hair is in this stage at a time. The catagen phase ranges from 10 days to four months.
- Telogen phase: After hair stops growing, it begins a resting stage, when the hair "rests" for a while before shedding. This stage lasts about three months.
- Exogen phase: This phase only lasts a few days. When a hair enters this stage of growth, it releases from your scalp and is shed as a new hair begins to grow in its place. It is completely normal to lose 50-100 hairs each day during this phase.
Tracking Hair Growth and Fall Rates
Hair growth rates are easiest to track if you have highlighted or color-treated hair due to the line of demarcation at the root area. If you want to see how fast your hair is growing, just look at your roots.
As your hair sheds, each shed hair strand slips from your hair and drifts to the floor or gathers on your collar. Stray hairs might also come out when you shampoo your hair or when you brush your hair. Slower shedding rates might indicate your hair is staying in the growth cycle longer. Being mindful of your hair fall can tell you a lot about your hair health. Here's how to assess it.
Method One: Wet Hair Check
How many hairs come out of your wet hair in the shower? (There should be roughly the same amount if you wash your hair at the same intervals.)
Method Two: Hair Brush Check
Remove hair from your hairbrush after use to track your daily hair shedding. Using a clean brush, brush your hair at the same time each day and note how many hairs gather in your brush. It's normal to lose 50-100 hairs per day.
When using either of these methods, if you see hair shedding increasing, you might also be able to notice a decrease in the thickness of your hair over time. If you note excessive thinning or start to see your scalp through your hair, talk with your doctor, use supportive hair care products and work on managing any excess stress you might have, which can trigger hair shedding.
Note: If you're pregnant or nursing, speak with your doctor before using hair supplements or any kind of supplements. Although hair supplements are a great way to support your hair, your prenatal vitamins may already contain some of the same ingredients. Your doctor can best determine what's appropriate for you to take along with your pregnancy supplements.
What If Your Hair Is Shedding?
Not everyone experiences lush hair growth while they are pregnant. However, postpartum hair loss is quite common. Even so, this sudden onset of heavy shedding a few months after your child's birth can stress a new mother to tears.
If you experience hair shedding after your pregnancy, talk with your doctor about your hair loss and focus on the following:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Reducing stress
- Using plant-based hair products that encourage thicker, fuller hair
Your doctor might also suggest you continue prenatal vitamins during the postpartum period. When your body returns to normal levels of hormones, you should see less shedding.
Hair Health During Pregnancy and Beyond
Many women experience hair changes during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy, those changes can include thicker, fuller hair due to an extended growth phase coupled with less normal hair shedding. After your pregnancy, postpartum hair loss is common and temporary.
During this time and beyond, use clean, plant-based hair care products that can help your hair look and feel beautiful! However, check in with your doctor before adding any supplements to your routine, especially when pregnant or breastfeeding.
More From VEGAMOUR
- Shop Shea Whitney's Hair Care Routine
- How Influencer Madie Wilkes Tackled Postpartum Hair Loss
- What to Do If Your Eyelashes Are Falling Out During Pregnancy or Postpartum
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