There are lots of different, expected changes to the body during pregnancy. Obvious signs include weight gain, an increased amount of cravings for different types of foods, and some mood changes.
However, a common symptom during pregnancy that is less well known are nosebleeds (or epistaxis). And while a nosebleed can be scary and seem like something is super wrong, they aren’t something you need to worry about most of the time.
Let’s find out exactly what causes this pregnancy symptom, how to stop nosebleeds, and when you should start worrying.
What Causes Nosebleeds During Pregnancy?
Nosebleeds are common even if you’re not pregnant, but they can occur more frequently during childbearing. There are a few different reasons for this.
During the first trimester, the amount of blood circulating in the body increases, and the heart works harder.
This increased blood volume can cause the tiny blood vessels in your nose to become damaged and burst, which results in a nosebleed.
Changes in hormones can also cause nosebleeds during pregnancy.
Additionally, nosebleeds during pregnancy might result from an underlying, associated problem.
For instance, hormone changes (like estrogen and progesterone) can make you feel more congested than usual.
This congestion might cause you to sneeze or blow your nose more often, leaving you more susceptible to getting a nosebleed.
You’re also more likely to get a pregnancy nosebleed when you have a sinus infection or allergies.
Pregnant individuals are likely to experience something called pregnancy rhinitis, which can also make it easier for nosebleeds to occur more frequently. Finally, having high blood pressure can make you more susceptible to having nosebleeds.
How Can I Stop a Nosebleed?
If a nosebleed starts affecting your day, the good news is that there are a few different ways to slow it down and stop it in its tracks.
Apply Pressure and Remain Upright
The tried and true method to stop a nosebleed is to remain upright and apply pressure to your nose.
Contrary to popular belief, you should not tilt your head back when you get a nosebleed. Sitting in an upright position allows the blood to drain from your nose, preventing it from dripping down your throat.
Blood dripping down your throat can cause vomiting and nausea. If anything, you may want to learn forward to prevent blood from entering your throat.
After getting upright, go ahead and pinch your nose for five minutes. Gently squeeze the soft portion of your nose without letting go.
The pressure on the nasal septum can stop or slow the blood flow. You can repeat this as necessary for up to 15 minutes.
This should do the trick, but if you need some other remedies, there are other things you can try.
Try Cold Therapy
If putting pressure on your nose doesn’t stop the flow, you can apply a cold compress to the bridge of your nose instead.
Cold compresses can constrict the blood vessels in the nose to slow bleeding or stop it completely.
Run a washcloth under cold water and wring it out until it’s only damp. Place it over your nose for a few minutes until the bleeding stops.
Blow Your Nose Gently
While this might sound a bit counterintuitive, gently blowing your nose might be able to speed up the nosebleed, so it ends more quickly.
Blowing your nose can remove blood clots in your nostrils to help get everything out quickly and efficiently.
What Should I Avoid When Stopping a Nosebleed?
The tips and tricks above are some great and safe ways to stop a nosebleed. But some other remedies are not recommended and should be avoided.
The first remedy to avoid is tilting your head back, which can do a lot more harm than good, as it can cause blood to drip into your throat. Instead, maintain an upright position and pinch the top of your nose.
Additionally, do not stick gauze or tissues inside your nostrils to stop the bleeding.
Blocking the nostril can cause blood to clot in your nose, making blood flow into your throat and putting you at risk for choking, nausea, and vomiting.
Tips for Preventing Nosebleeds
If you notice that you’re getting bloody noses often, even after you’ve already delivered your child, there are some things you can try to decrease their frequency.
- Use saline drops to keep your nasal passage moist.
- Gently blow your nose, being careful not to blow too hard.
- Use a humidifier to keep the inside of your nose moist.
- Avoid picking or prodding at your nose.
How Can I Treat Severe Nosebleeds?
If you have frequent nosebleeds, or if your nosebleeds are severe, you’ll want to talk with a healthcare provider about alternative remedies.
They may recommend surgically correcting a deviated septum, as this can reduce the number of nosebleeds you experience.
Additionally, in extreme cases, a doctor might use a cauterization technique to close a bleeding blood vessel that just won’t be able to clot up.
When Should I Be Worried About a Nosebleed?
Nosebleeds look super frightening, and they can be a bit of a nuisance. However, they are usually not a cause for concern. In most cases, you can stop a nosebleed yourself in just a few minutes.
Certain situations might warrant a consultation with your doctor and OB-GYN (doctor of obstetrics and gynecology), including:
- If the nosebleed persists for more than 20 minutes, even with direct pressure.
- If you lose more than a cup of blood.
- If you experience trouble breathing, gagging, or vomiting from blood dripping down the back of your throat.
- If you’re bleeding from other parts of the body, like the ears or rectum.
- If the nosebleed was caused by an injury to the head.
An important note is that if you’ve lost a lot of blood, you risk losing consciousness.
For that reason, do not drive yourself to the emergency room. Instead, have someone else drive you or dial 911.
Nosebleeds can be scary and frustrating and can happen more frequently during pregnancy.
This is mainly due to increased blood volume and hormonal changes, but things like allergies and blowing your nose too hard can make it more likely for your nose to start bleeding.
You can stop a nosebleed a few different ways, but the best method is keeping your head upright and pinching the top of your nose to slow the blood flow.
You can also try using a cold compress. Be sure not to tilt your head or place foreign objects into your nostrils.
Nosebleeds will typically resolve themselves after just a few minutes, but if they last longer than 20 minutes or you lose a cup or more of blood, you should seek medical attention. Just make sure you do not drive yourself to the hospital if you’ve lost a lot of blood.
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Bridget Reed is a Tampa-based content development manager, writer, and editor at GR0; specializing in content related to varying fields including medicine, health, and small businesses. Bridget went to St. Petersburg College and majored in Management and Organizational Leadership.
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