As if your body isn’t already doing enough weird stuff, now you’re dealing with new or increased nosebleeds during pregnancy. What on earth is up with that? Why would our bodies do such a crazy and scary thing to us when we’re already on an emotional and physical rollercoaster? Let’s find out!
When I found out that I was finally pregnant with my son after years to trying to conceive, I thought I was prepared for just about anything. I spent those years reading up on what to expect so I’d be ready when it finally happened. I knew all about morning sickness, hormone fluctuations, and emotional ups and downs. I was totally prepared to cry my eyes out over sad puppy commercials (even more than I already do!) and crave weird foods that my picky-eating self would never touch normally. However, I was NOT prepared for the blood vessels in my nose to spring a leak! Seriously, what’s up with that?
What causes nosebleeds during pregnancy?
So what causes all those new or increased nosebleeds during pregnancy? Short answer: your circulatory system. Okay, that’s kind of obvious, right? I mean, your circulatory system is responsible for pretty much every blood-related activity in your body. Here’s the longer (although still surprisingly simple) answer.
Basically, like all things in your body, your circulatory system needs to expand a bit to accommodate your growing baby. That means more blood pumping through your body, which in turn means all the vessels responsible for transporting that blood have to expand as well.
Now, your veins and arteries are pretty sturdy. They can usually handle the extra load. Those delicate little blood vessels in your nose, on the other hand, sometimes can’t quite take the pressure. When that happens, BAM, nosebleeds. I think the best way to describe it would be to think of those vessels as water balloons (although not quite as rotund). Sometimes, you can fill the balloon with a ton of water and it holds, but other times you get that one brittle balloon that springs a leak if you fill it up too much.
Of course, there are other factors involved. Not every pregnant woman will have to deal with nosebleeds during pregnancy. If you are already prone to nosebleeds or are worried about it happening to you, there are a few things you can do to decrease the risk. They won’t guarantee that your nose will never spring a leak, but they can help.
How to avoid nosebleeds during pregnancy
- Skip the sprays and decongestants: I know it seems unfair, but all those nasal sprays and decongestants that are supposed to help you deal with allergies and stuffy noses can actually make things worse by drying up your nose. Instead, stick with a basic saline nose spray and talk to your doctor about other alternatives for dealing with allergies.
- Learn to love humidity! You are more likely to experience nosebleeds during pregnancy when the air is super dry, like during the winter (or if you live in one of those “but it’s a dry heat” states). Break out the humidifier and put some moisture back into the air! Your nose will thank you.
- Blow gently! You’re going to have to blow your nose at some point during your pregnancy, but when you do, just be gentle about it.
If you do get a nosebleed, do not lean back! I know when we were little, we were told to lean back, but it just sends all that blood down your throat. Aside from the yuck factor, that increases your risk of choking. Stay upright or lean forward a bit. Check out this video for more tips on the right way to stop a nosebleed.
Common sense rules apply here. If it doesn’t stop after following basic first aid tips, or if the flow is super heavy, give your doctor a call ASAP. Also call if you have high blood pressure. If your nose starts bleeding after a head injury, seek emergency medical help. Nosebleeds during pregnancy aren’t fun, but they usually aren’t life-threatening. Like morning sickness and crying hysterically over sad puppy commercials, they’re just another weird way our bodies mess with us during pregnancy.