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How Pregnancy Changes Your Body

You know what having a baby on board does to your belly, but did you know that it transforms just about every other part of you, too? Fortunately, many of those changes are temporary. In the meantime, here are ways to cope until the alien life form that's abducted your body returns it to you (more or less) unharmed.

Hair

What's going on: Hair grows in cycles, and under normal circumstances each strand is either growing, resting, or falling out. Thanks to the hormonal shifts of pregnancy, though, more follicles are locked in the growing and resting phases, and fewer are in the falling-out phase, explains Amy McMichael, M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. For many women, the result is a luxurious mane. For others, their 'do simply feels flat and heavy. "My hair is completely unmanageable," laments Jean Dykstra of Brooklyn, New York. "It's so thick and there's just way too much of it."

Pregnancy hormones such as estrogen and progesterone can also alter oil production and follicle structure, so curly hair may calm down, and limp hair may spring to life. A few months after your baby's born, your follicles will finally enter the falling-out phase, leaving up to 500 hairs -- compared with the 100 you normally shed -- on your brush every day. Don't panic: Your follicular follies should be over for good within about six months.

What to do about it: If you like your new look, regular trims will keep your locks in great shape. If you're less than thrilled, hold off on any major fixes until after the first trimester. There's no proof that the chemicals in perms or dyes cause miscarriage or birth defects, but since they're absorbed through your scalp and into your bloodstream, it's probably best to avoid exposure while your baby's organs are developing. Highlights (which don't touch the scalp) or a vegetable-based color rinse are considered safe at any time during pregnancy.

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