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Hair growth in pregnancy: why you might need that razor more often

Hair growth in pregnancy: why you might need that razor more often

Chin, chest, back or belly: sprouting hair in strange places can be common during pregnancy.

Or perhaps some of your body hair has vanished in certain areas to leave blissfully smooth skin?

‘Hormonal changes at this time affect everyone differently,’ says independent midwife Rachel Lex.

‘The amount of body hair you grow and where it pops up can vary between one person and another.’

To understand why this random hair behaviour happens, you need to know a bit about a type of hormone called an androgen.

What’s an androgen?

‘Androgens include male hormones such as testosterone,’ explains Rachel.

‘These are naturally present in females, but they increase throughout pregnancy. And it’s androgens that change where the hair grows on the body, sometimes causing it to appear in unexpected places where it’s never grown before, such as around the nipples or on your tummy.’

Increased levels of another hormone, oestrogen also change the hair’s growth cycle.

Before you were pregnant, your hair grew at a rate of just over a centimetre a month and, at any one time, 90 per cent of it was growing and falling out, while the remaining 10 per cent was lying dormant in a resting phase. 

‘But pregnancy alters this natural cycle,’ says Rachel. ‘Oestrogen can put a higher percentage of your hair into a resting phase. It may seem that it’s becoming thicker, but actually not as much is falling out. And you might find that body hair feels thicker. The texture and the colour can change too. At the other extreme, it may stop growing altogether. 

‘These hormones are also responsible for darkening of the skin, notably in a line called the 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. But these are all perfectly normal responses in pregnancy.’

Your out-of-control body hair won’t last for long

‘Most of it will fall out soon after your baby arrives, when the hair growth cycle should return to normal,’ advises Rachel.

‘However, 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 GP to have your hormone levels checked.’

In the meantime, if the natural look is not for you and you’d prefer to be fuzz-free, then you need to play safe when it comes to hair removal.

Old-fashioned methods are the safest during pregnancy

‘Shaving and tweezing are considered safe,’ says Rachel. ‘Waxing is too, although skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, and repeated waxing can cause inflammation.’

Steer clear of depilatory creams and bleaches: ‘It’s believed that chemicals can enter the bloodstream,’ Rachel explains.

‘The lack of evidence on the safety of laser hair removal or electrolysis during pregnancy means that most mums-to-be postpone salon visits until after the birth. Many avoid epilators for the same reason too.’

And remember, however much extra hair you grow on the outside, this is definitely a time when it’s what inside that counts!

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