All sorts of changes happen to your body when you’re pregnant, not least the actual business of growing a (preferably ginger) baby, so you may not have heard about what can happen to your hair.
With hormone changes galore, most mummies-to-be note the glorious condition of their hair during pregnancy, with it growing a lot faster, looking shinier and feeling thicker than normal. Oooh, lovely.
But what about changing hair colour altogether?
A smaller proportion of women (redheads included) experience the darkening of their hair colour either during pregnancy, or after childbirth, and we’d like to get to the bottom of it.
Unsurprisingly, it’s all linked to hormones. During pregnancy, a woman’s progesterone level goes through the roof right up until your 40 weeks, which may make you feel energetic, upbeat, and all the other nice things. Your oestrogen levels increase too, but not as high as your progesterone, so your buzz is pretty…buzzy.
After childbirth, however, your progesterone level immediately plummets, creating an oestrogen overload. This explains what some people call the ‘baby blues’.
But did you know that oestrogen and progesterone play a massive role in regulating your melanin level, too? Melanin is what controls your skin and hair colour, with redheads having a significantly low level of melanin, but a very high amount of eumelanin. This combination gives them their distinctive red hair, pale skin and freckles.
It is thought that if your hormones can affect your melanin level, that this can cause the darkening of hair colour in women either during pregnancy or post-partem. We can assume that this change would be more noticeable in redheads, who have such low melanin levels to begin with.
After childbirth, most mothers’ hormone levels (and similarly melanin levels) return to normal within three to six months, or possibly longer if breastfeeding.
However, on rare occasions, the imbalance of progesterone and oestrogen doesn’t normalise, meaning red hair colour can change permanently, or at least until another significant hormone alteration occurs.
Through reading up on forums about this issue, it seems that this may be hereditary, so speak to your mother and grandmothers about their experiences with their hair colour during and following pregnancy.
It should be noted that various things can affect hair colour changes, including age and stress. And hormones can affect you in ways you never thought possible – they can even create new allergies!