It is not uncommon for pregnant women to report thicker, healthier looking hair. Normal hair goes through cycles of growth and rest. During pregnancy, higher levels of oestrogen extend the amount of time hair spends in the growing phase of the cycle, and reduces the time spent resting. Hair loss occurs during the resting phase, so in pregnancy, less hair is shed. Unfortunately, this is a transient effect and is, in a lot of cases, followed by a period of enhanced hair shedding once the baby is born. This increased shedding is known as telogen effluvium and happens because the hair follicles enter a prolonged resting phase. Some women continue to experience hair loss for over a year postpartum.
Hair growth is also enhanced across other areas of the body, such as the abdomen, back and nipples. Usually harmless and temporary, this condition, known as hirsutism, can cause women to feel more self-conscious. If considering a form of hair removal, bear in mind that the skin can be more sensitive during pregnancy. You may also want to consider avoiding using chemical-containing products, such as hair removal creams and bleach whilst you are pregnant, as there is a small chance that they will pass into the bloodstream and affect the baby.
Nails also grow faster during pregnancy and can become stronger. Some women find that their nails become more brittle and may split or form grooves.
Read more about the changes accompanying pregnancy.