Your pregnant body
Congestion and nosebleeds
Causes of congestion and nosebleeds
- During pregnancy, your body goes through hormonal changes, and your blood supply increases. These changes may cause the membranes in your nose to swell, dry out or bleed more easily.
- These changes may cause you to have a constant stuffy or runny nose, even if you have no cold symptoms.
- You may have occasional nosebleeds, particularly during the winter months.
- These symptoms often begin towards the end of the first trimester and may continue until after delivery.
What you can do
To help relieve congestion and dryness:
- Use a humidifier. This will help to moisten the air in your home. Keep a humidifier in the bedroom to help ease congestion that keeps you awake at night. Be sure to clean the humidifier often.
- Drink plenty of fluids. This will help keep your nasal passages moist.
- Use steam. Take a warm shower before bedtime. It may help ease congestion that keeps you awake at night.
- Use saline drops. They help moisten your nasal passages. You can find these at the drug store. However, don't use medicated nose drops, sprays or decongestants without first checking with your health care provider.
- Blow your nose gently. Blowing your nose hard or often can aggravate the membranes and lead to more runniness or nosebleeds.
- Use a warm, wet washcloth. Apply it to your cheeks, eyes and nose to help reduce congestion.
- Elevate your head. Use an extra pillow when you sleep to prevent mucus from blocking your throat.
To stop a nosebleed:
- Remain seated and keep your head up. Lying down or tilting your head can cause you to swallow blood and become nauseated.
- Apply pressure. Hold the nostril closed for at least 4 minutes.
- Use ice or a cold pack. This helps narrow the blood vessels and stop the bleeding.
When to talk to your health care provider
Nosebleeds and congestion are rarely signs of any serious problems. Usually, the congestion, runny nose and nosebleeds that occur during pregnancy clear up shortly after delivery.
Talk to your health care provider if you have nosebleeds often or if the bleeding doesn't stop after applying pressure and ice. If the congestion is not eased by any of the suggestions above or if congestion keeps you from getting a good night's rest, talk to your health care provider about whether it is safe to take an over-the-counter decongestant.
If you have a stuffy or runny nose as well as signs of a cold or flu, talk to your health care provider before taking any type of over-the-counter cold remedies. The signs of cold or flu are sneezing, coughing, a sore throat, fever or minor aches and pains.
Last reviewed June 2009