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Why You Might Get Nosebleeds During Pregnancy

This unexpected symptom may be alarming—but it’s usually not a cause for concern.
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By Dani Wolfe, Contributing Writer
Updated September 20, 2023
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Pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, fatigue and weird cravings often get top billing—but nosebleeds? That’s not something many pregnant people expect to experience. But rest assured, if you’re experiencing this pesky symptom, you’re not alone.

While nosebleeds during pregnancy can be alarming, in most cases, they’re not a cause for concern. Keep scrolling to find out all the details about nosebleeds during pregnancy, including why they happen and how to prevent them.

Are Nosebleeds a Sign of Pregnancy?

You might get nosebleeds while pregnant, but you can be confident that on their own, nosebleeds aren’t considered a sign of pregnancy. “But nosebleeds are a side effect of pregnancy, and they’re more common in pregnant individuals,” explains Stephanie Sublett, MD, FACOG, IBCLC, an ob-gyn and a breastfeeding medicine and perinatal mental health specialist. Sublett suggests looking out for more common early pregnancy symptoms such as tender breasts, frequent urination, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, mood changes and a missed period.

Are Nosebleeds Common During Pregnancy?

Yes, nosebleeds are considered pretty common in pregnancy. According to the Cleveland Clinic, nosebleeds occur in 20 percent of pregnant people compared to only 6 percent of those who aren’t pregnant. But, again, they’re generally harmless. “The vast majority of nosebleeds during pregnancy don’t require medical attention,” says Sublett.

When Do Nosebleeds Start in Pregnancy?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there’s no clear starting point for nosebleeds during pregnancy. Sublett agrees that nosebleeds can start at any point during pregnancy.

What Causes Nosebleeds During Pregnancy?

So, what’s up with the bloody noses? When you’re expecting, hormone levels change faster than ever before–so much is happening inside your body! “Pregnancy hormones lead to an increase in the number of blood vessels supplying the nasal mucosa, the tissue that lines the nasal passages,” explains Christine Noa Sterling, MD, FACOG, an ob-gyn with over 16 years of experience. Basically, pregnancy hormones cause your body to build up more blood in your nose tissue, leading to increased pressure in the walls of your nose. This can cause them to break open easier and bleed.

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On top of that, your blood volume increases by up to 50 percent when you’re pregnant—which means those tiny, delicate blood vessels can rupture more easily. “Hormonal changes also make the mucous membranes of the nose more prone to dryness, which causes stuffiness and congestion—which can cause the nose to bleed more frequently,” notes Sublett.

How Long Do Nosebleeds Last in Pregnancy?

Great news—you likely won’t have to deal with nosebleeds for your entire pregnancy. “If you do tend to suffer from recurrent nosebleeds, these should resolve within the early postpartum period,” says Sublett. However, this varies from person to person—just like a lot of pregnancy symptoms.

How to Stop and Treat Nosebleeds During Pregnancy

Nosebleeds while pregnant seem to come out of nowhere—and quickly. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to stop them fast, according to Sublett.

  • Sit down carefully in a stable seat
  • Lean slightly forward
  • Hold your head higher than your heart
  • Pinch both sides of the nose right below the bony nasal bridge
  • Hold pressure there for 10 to 15 minutes

Keep in mind that there’s one thing you should never do. “Don’t tilt your head back—that doesn’t stop the bleeding—it just directs the blood down the back of your throat,” says Sterling. Additionally, if the above steps aren’t helping, Sublett recommends applying ice to the bridge of your nose to constrict blood vessels and slow down the bleeding.

Can You Prevent Nosebleeds During Pregnancy?

The best way to prevent nosebleeds during pregnancy is simple yet effective: Keep your nose moist. “When the nasal mucosa is dry, it becomes more susceptible to the small tears that lead to the majority of nosebleeds,” says Sterling. To keep your nose moist so you can prevent nosebleeds during pregnancy, experts recommend sleeping with a humidifier in your room, putting some petroleum jelly or another moisturizer in your nose, using saline drops, and staying well-hydrated (a great idea during pregnancy anyway!).

When to Talk to Your Doctor About Nosebleeds in Pregnancy

While nosebleeds during pregnancy aren’t generally an emergency, the Cleveland Clinic advises contacting your healthcare provider if your nosebleeds are frequent, the blood flow is very heavy or the nosebleed hasn’t improved after 30 minutes of applying pressure. “If nosebleeds continue despite taking steps to avoid trauma and the drying out of the nasal mucosa, we often refer to an [ear, nose and throat (ENT)] physician so they can take a look and ensure there isn’t a more serious cause to the nosebleeds,” says Sterling.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

Sources

Stephanie Sublett, MD, FACOG, IBCLC, is an ob-gyn and a breastfeeding medicine and perinatal mental health specialist. She supports moms through her practice Lilivy Postpartum, offering personalized, specialized and supportive medical care that prioritizes a mother’s needs after birth. Sublett also actively helps moms navigate postpartum on her Instagram page. She earned her medical degree from St. George’s University in the West Indies.

Christine Noa Sterling, MD, FACOG, is a San Diego-based ob-gyn with over 16 years of experience. She’s the founder of Sterling Parents, a community that acts as a one-stop shop to help women prepare for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and taking care of baby.

Cleveland Clinic, Nosebleeds While Pregnant, February 2022

Learn how we ensure the accuracy of our content through our editorial and medical review process.

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