Why Do I Get Nosebleeds During Pregnancy?

nosebleed pregnancy

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If you get a nosebleed during pregnancy, you are likely to feel alarmed and caught off guard. Nosebleeds often happen suddenly and seeing blood can be frightening...not to mention the fact that mopping up blood is not something any of us enjoy doing!

You might be wondering why this is happening, and if there is any way that a nosebleed could harm you or your baby. Nosebleeds aren't fun, but you can rest assured that they are quite common. In fact, many people notice an uptick in nosebleeds during their pregnancy.

This increase is due to hormonal changes and increased blood volume. Thankfully, nosebleeds during pregnancy are rarely serious. They are more of a nuisance—and a mess—than anything else.

Let’s take a look at why nosebleeds happen in pregnancy, how to manage them, and what you can do to try to prevent them.

Why Do You Get Nosebleeds While Pregnant?

As with so many aspects of pregnancy, you can blame your nosebleeds (also known as "epistaxis") on all the many changes your body is going through to support and grow your little one. Specifically, changes in blood volume and hormones are what are most likely to cause those nosebleeds in pregnancy.

When you are pregnant, your blood volume increases as much as 50%, says Daniel Roshan, MD, a high-risk maternal-fetal OB-GYN in New York City. Additionally, your cardiac output increases to about 25%. “The pressure of the extra blood volume can cause the fragile nose vessels to burst and bleed,” Dr. Roshan describes.

In other words, all that extra blood circulating in your body can cause the blood vessels in your nose to become more vulnerable, leading to the highly annoying and unpleasant experience of a nosebleed.

Your changing hormones play a similar role as well, says Mitchell S. Kramer, MD, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Huntington Hospital. Pregnancy hormones also cause the blood vessels in your nose to become more susceptible to those pesky bleeds.

You are also more likely to experience congestion when you are pregnant, Dr. Kramer adds, and sneezing or blowing your nose can more easily result in a nose bleed (how fun, right?). In rare cases, says Dr. Kramer, nose bleeds may be associated with increased blood pressure during pregnancy.

Certain environments, medical conditions, and medications can make you more likely to experience a nosebleed in pregnancy, too, explains Kecia Gaither, MD, who is a double board-certified physician in OBGYN and maternal-fetal medicine.

“Nosebleeds can occur more frequently with colds, allergies, on a blood thinner, have dry mucus membranes due to cold weather, air-conditioned rooms, or dry environments,” Dr. Gaither says.

How Common Are Nosebleeds In Pregnancy?

If a nosebleed during pregnancy has caught you off guard and has you concerned, you can take heart knowing that nosebleeds in pregnancy are actually quite common. Dr. Kramer says that about 1 in 5 pregnant individuals will experience a nosebleed. Additionally, studies have shown that people who are pregnant are three times as likely to experience nosebleeds as non-pregnant people.

When Do Nosebleeds Start During Pregnancy?

Nosebleeds in pregnancy can occur at any time, but according to Dr. Kramer, they typically start in the second trimester. But some people will start having them as early as the first trimester, he says.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of nosebleeds can come on suddenly, and can be quite shocking. The blood can come from one or both of your nostrils. Flow can be lighter or heavier, and usually doesn’t last for more than 10 minutes.

Sometimes you’ll get a nosebleed while you are sleeping. This can be both startling and very irritating. Plus, no one wants to clean up a nosebleed in the middle of the night! Nighttime nosebleeds often start with a tickle in the back of your throat before the blood flows out of your nose.

Although some nosebleeds are spontaneous and seem to come out of nowhere, many nosebleeds are associated with some sort of irritation of the nasal passage, says Dr. Kramer. This may be a sneeze, or when you have been wiping your nose frequently. Allergies, other nose irritations, or dry weather may also precede a nose bleed.

Importantly, nose bleeds are not associated with other symptoms, such as pain or headaches, says Dr. Kramer. If you have these symptoms, you should contact a healthcare provider.

Are Pregnancy Nosebleeds Preventable?

If you've been getting frequent nosebleeds during pregnancy, you are likely hoping for a way to get them to end. Unfortunately, nosebleeds aren’t always preventable. That said, if you avoid some of the irritants that can trigger a nosebleed, you might be able to prevent them, or at least decrease their frequency.

Dr. Gaither suggests blowing your nose as gently as possible so as not to trigger a nosebleed. She also recommends staying hydrated, using a humidifier to keep the air you breathe moist, and considering using a nasal lubricant. Taking pregnancy-safe allergy or cold medication to decrease sneezing and congestion can help minimize nose bleeds, says Dr. Kramer.

Dr. Roshan recommends making sure not to keep the room you are in too warm because the warm air can dry out your nasal passages. He also recommends against plucking your nose hair, or manipulating the inside of your nose in any way, if you are prone to nosebleeds during pregnancy.

Ways to Relieve and Treat Nosebleeds

If you are experiencing a nosebleed, try not to panic. There are some simple things you can do to quickly resolve your nosebleed.

First, if you are lying down, sit or stand up. Then, lean forward a little and pinch the soft area of your nose, just above your nostrils, for the next 10-15 minutes. Keep this pressure steady for the entire time.

Another option is to put a cold pack, or even a bag of frozen vegetables, across your nose. Cold temperatures can constrict your blood vessels and decrease blood flow. After your nosebleed, try to avoid bending forward too frequently, or blowing your nose too vigorously.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Most nosebleeds during pregnancy can be managed at home, and don’t usually involve a heavy volume of blood. Dr. Gaither suggests seeking medical attention if your bleeding isn’t responding to at-home remedies and is lasting more than 30 minutes.

You should seek emergency medical attention if your bleeding is heavy, you are having trouble bleeding, or you are feeling dizzy or lightheaded, Dr. Gaither warns.

A Word from Verywell

Facing a bloody nose during pregnancy can be a scary experience. During pregnancy, it’s understandable that you’d react strongly to something like a sudden show of blood. After all, you don’t want anything to be wrong with your body right now!

But, as unsettling as nosebleeds can be, especially the first time, they are generally not harmful. They are just one of those annoying things about being pregnant. Still, if your nosebleeds are frequent and difficult to prevent, or if you have any questions or concerns about them, you should not hesitate to reach out to a healthcare provider.

If you are experiencing heavy, uncontrollable bleeding, labored breathing, or are feeling lightheaded, please seek immediate medical care.

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5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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