My tummy, upper lip, back, and bum took to growing extra hair (à la an elderly man) during pregnancy. And it wasn’t peach fuzz…it was dark, shockingly long hairs. Eric once caught me mid–tummy shave. Not cute. Unsurprisingly, an increase in hormones are to blame, specifically androgen and, wait for it, wait for it…estrogen! These hormones not only induce hair growth but also prevent hair from shedding. This is a big reason your locks become so lustrous — the hundred or so strands that typically shed each day stay put when you’re growing a baby. An increase in your metabolism and blood circulation also play a part in all this, as they keep the hair pumped up with nutrients. Regarding the darkening of body hair, this is caused by the extra melanin — a pigment that impacts the color of hair, skin, and eyes — your body makes during pregnancy.
Androgens, primarily composed of testosterone and androstenedione, are a main cause of hair growth during pregnancy in places usually reserved for male hair growth. They’ve been nicknamed “male hormones” because — while they’re present in both men and women — men typically have higher levels of them. In the female body, most androgens are converted into estrogens. Androgens were likely to blame for the coarse, curly, and black nipple hair my friend Chelsea reported during her pregnancy. She said she had more of it than her husband. I took her word for it.
In rare cases, excessive body hair can be a sign of hyperandrogenism, which is an overproduction of androgens. This condition can cause high blood pressure, acne, weight loss, and other not-great side effects. If you feel your body hair is out of control, let your care provider know.
What to do
If all the hair really bugs you, go ahead and shave. Hair removal products aren’t recommended, as the chemicals leach into the skin. And while waxing is safe, it usually isn’t advised because hot wax can irritate extra-sensitive pregnant skin. If the hair only kind of irks you, consider making peace with it and saving yourself major time in the shower. You can really make friends with it by rubbing almond or jojoba oil all over after showering, softening the hair and minimizing the development of stretch marks. And take heart in the knowledge that your Sasquatch traits will almost entirely disappear by six months after birth.