One thing pregnancy loves is body fluids. And just when you thought you’d met them all, enter nosebleeds during pregnancy.
A bloody nose during pregnancy can be stressful and confusing — but if it helps, they are often nothing to worry about.
First, know that you’re not alone. About one in five pregnant women gets them.
So why does this happen?
Let’s dive in.
In this article: 📝
- Bloody nose while pregnant — the lowdown
- Why am I getting a bloody nose during pregnancy?
- When should you worry about nosebleeds during pregnancy?
- How to deal with a bloody nose during pregnancy
Bloody nose while pregnant — the lowdown
So, what exactly is a nosebleed?
It’s typically the lining of your nose shedding its tissue.
For some people, it involves both nostrils and for others, it’s just the one.
It can be heavy or light, happen when you’re awake or asleep, and last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.
For some, it’s a one-off occurrence, while for others, it happens frequently.
The condition also has a pretty futuristic-sounding name — epistaxis.
Nosebleeds in pregnancy may feel alarming. They often seem to come out of the blue and the sudden sight and taste of blood can be unsettling.
But they’re not generally causes for concern, as long as you don’t lose too much blood.
Here’s why they happen.
Why am I getting a bloody nose during pregnancy?
Two of the major changes that happen in your body when you are pregnant are:
- An increase in blood volume — on average by about 50%. That’s a lot of extra blood you’ve made to support the systems in your body as they go about this important task.
- A hormonal shift. Hormones seem to be at the bottom of most pregnancy symptoms. The two key players? Estrogen and progesterone. Their job is to create the ideal environment for your little one to grow and develop in.
While both changes are important for keeping you and your baby healthy during this time, they can also contribute to nosebleeds.
That extra blood volume can cause your blood vessels to expand, and in some cases, burst open. (Think water balloon. 🎈)
That means you might bleed more easily than you would normally.
The inside of your nose is populated with tiny blood vessels and that, combined with dry air that is breathed in through your nostrils, can cause blood to flow out of your nose.
And then there are the hormonal shifts.
One thing this surge is responsible for is thickening up the lining of your uterus.
And as it turns out, it can affect the lining of your nasal passages too, making them more vulnerable to bleeding.
There are some other possibilities too.
If you’re feeling particularly stuffy during your pregnancy, it may be because of a common condition called pregnancy rhinitis.
Affecting as many as 20% of pregnant women, pregnancy rhinitis is an inflammation of the lining of your nasal passages.
This lining of your nose is made up of glands that make mucus. (That’s why you may have heard it referred to as the mucous membrane.)
When you’re pregnant — due to a mixture of hormones, increased blood supply, and the luck of the draw — you may feel super congested.
This can be really frustrating and leave you feeling exhausted. And if you’re blowing your nose all the time, it could lead to nosebleeds.
Any extra stuffiness can lead to nosebleeds. A cold, seasonal allergies, dry winter air — all of these can up the risk.
When should you worry about nosebleeds during pregnancy?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, it’s best to be extra cautious if you have blood flow that is heavy or doesn’t stop after a few minutes, and/or if you have high blood pressure.
Also, if you feel disoriented or dizzy or have any trouble breathing, it’s important to get medical help.
In most cases, whether you are planning a cesarean or vaginal birth, nosebleeds shouldn’t get in the way of delivery.
Unfortunately, there are some instances where nosebleeds during pregnancy can be more serious — but these are rare.
Sometimes, they can be caused by pregnancy tumors.
These are non-cancerous growths that can form on the gums or in the nose.
And they are likely also caused by hormonal changes and blood volume surges.
While this might sound scary, there is treatment available, as this study tells us.
They also generally resolve when you hit the postpartum period.
How to deal with a bloody nose during pregnancy
First, here’s how to stop a nosebleed when it happens:
- Sit down or stand upright. This will reduce the blood pressure in your nose and hopefully get the bleeding to slow down.
- Pinch your nose just above your nostrils.
- Keep pinching firmly for about ten to fifteen minutes without letting go.
- Some healthcare professionals recommend using an ice pack to help stop the flow. See if this works for you.
- Try to breathe through your mouth rather than your nose as this should prevent blood from going down your throat.
- If it doesn’t stop after about thirty minutes, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your healthcare provider.
- If it does stop on its own, be gentle with yourself for the next 24 hours or so. Stay away from strenuous exercise and try not to bend down too much.
- Keep hydrated. This is really important during pregnancy anyway, and specifically if you’re struggling with nasal congestion and nose bleeds. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends between eight to twelve glasses a day.
- Try not to blow your nose too much. We know this can feel like a tall order if you’re feeling congested — do what you can. When you do blow, blow gently.
- Where possible, avoid places with dry air. Air-conditioned buildings and dry winter air can cause you trouble.
So, while nosebleeds in pregnancy are not unusual and generally pretty harmless, it’s important to get help if you’re concerned.
And if you’re looking for support along the way, reach out to your Peanut community.
You don’t have to do this alone.
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