Nosebleeds During Pregnancy: Causes, Treatment And Prevention

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When you are pregnant, your circulatory system expands to accommodate the growing baby. Your body produces more blood and the circulation of blood increases. These changes in the system could lead to nosebleeds, also known as Epistaxis.

If you are experiencing the same, MomJunction tells you why  nose bleeds happens, when you should see a doctor, and how you can prevent it.

Are Nosebleeds Common During Pregnancy?

Yes, nosebleeds are common during pregnancy, with bleeding can be from one nostril or both the nostrils. Nosebleeds usually start in the 16th week of pregnancy and usually last until the end of pregnancy. Sometimes the nosebleed may become worse as the pregnancy progresses.

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What Causes Nosebleeds During Pregnancy?

Nosebleeds can occur due to the below reasons (2).

  1. During pregnancy blood flow to the body’s mucus membranes  – including the nose – increases causing them to swell and become soft. Blowing and sneezing can then cause nosebleed.
  1. Antihistamines and decongestants taken for allergies, colds, or sinus problems can dry out the nasal membranes and cause nosebleeds picking of the nose due to itching, can also disturb the nasal membrane and rupture the blood vessels easily, causing nosebleeds (3).
  1. Cold or infections: If you catch a cold or have nose-infection or sinuses, the mucous membrane tends to become dry, and the vessels rupture easily. The irritation from a cold or infection can, therefore, cause the nose-bleed.
  1. Dry air because of weather conditions or, air-conditioned rooms, aircraft cabins and other dry regions, increase the risk of nosebleeds.

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How To Stop Nose-Bleed During Pregnancy?

To stop nosebleeds (3):

  1. Sit down and lean forward. Your head should be at a level higher than the heart.
  1. Use your thumb and index finger to firmly pinch the soft, lower part of your nose that is just above your nostrils.
  1. Breathe through your mouth and squeeze your nostrils for about 10 to 15 minutes without releasing the pressure. That lets the blood drain down your nose instead of the throat.
  1. Now sit or stand upright to lower the blood flow in the nasal cavities and prevent further bleeding.
  1. Apply an ice pack or a pack of frozen peas over the bridge of the nose.

Do not tilt your head back or lie down, which can make you inhale or swallow blood, leading to nausea.

If the bleeding does not stop even 15 minutes after applying an ice pack, continue holding the ice in place for another 10 to 15 minutes. To prevent nosebleed within the next 24 hours:

  • Do not lie down flat
  • Avoid picking or blowing your nose
  • Do not lift anything heavy
  • Avoid strenuous exercise
  • Avoid hot drinks and alcohol as they can cause dilation of blood vessels in the nose

Although nosebleed is a harmless condition, there are certain instances which may warrant immediate medical assistance.

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When Should You See A Doctor For Nosebleed?

In some cases, nosebleeds can be a symptom of an underlying condition and should be diagnosed by a doctor.

Seek medical care if:

  • There is persistent discomfort in the chest or labored breathing accompanied by nosebleed
  • Your nose starts to bleed, even a little, following head trauma
  • Your nosebleeds are accompanied by numbness, facial drooping or a tingling sensation in the extremities; this could be a sign of stroke
  • If there is a loss of consciousness
  • The nosebleeds are associated with fatigue, confusion or lightheadedness
  • You experience heavy bleeding, which does not stop even after 30 minutes
  • You are on an anticoagulant, which can interfere with the bleeding

Your doctor will check your case, and recommend treatment if necessary.

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What Is The Treatment For Nosebleeds?

Depending on the severity of the bleeding, treatment for nosebleed could include (4):

  • Nasal tampons or gauzes, which are used to pack your nose. They are placed for an hour or two to exert continuous pressure on the vessels.
  • Cauterization is done in some cases to seal the bleeding point. Silver nitrate is applied at the end of the blood vessels to close them (chemical cauterization). If the bleeding is heavy, the site is closed using electric current (electrocautery).
  • In severe cases, a minor operation, called ligation, is needed. It involves tying off the blood vessels that bleed. You will be given local anesthesia to numb that particular region.

Treatments are the last option, the first being prevention itself.

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Can You Prevent Nosebleeds During Pregnancy?

Yes. Here is how you can prevent nosebleeds during pregnancy (5).

  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep the mucous membrane moist.
  • Avoid any nasal decongestants and sprays that can dry out the membranes. Gently blow the blood clots out of your nose. Use a humidifier in your home, especially during the winter or if you reside in a dry climate.
  • Stay away from environmental irritants such as smoke, smog, perfumes, and chemicals that can irritate your nasal passages.
  • Open your mouth while sneezing to lower the pressure on your nose. Doing so distributes the pressure of the sneeze and minimizes the risk of bleeding.
  • Use gentle, over-the-counter nasal lubricants that help moisten the membranes. Petroleum jelly, saline drops or other mild nasal sprays can also help. Coconut oil is a good lubricant.
  • If you have been prescribed a medicated decongestant or nose spray, take as instructed. Overusing them can dry and irritate the nose.

If Say, your nose bleeds even after these measures, should you worry about it affecting your baby?

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Will Nosebleeds Affect You Or Your Baby?

Although nosebleeds are inconvenient, they pose no harm to you and your baby. Only in the case of recurrent nosebleeds, especially in the final trimester, should you be worried about having a problem.

Research reveals that frequent nosebleeds are likely to increase the risk of postpartum hemorrhage (6). So, if you have severe nosebleeds in your last trimester, your obstetrician may suggest a C-section.

Usually, nosebleeds are a temporary occurrence during pregnancy. Once you give birth to your baby, the nosebleeds will stop automatically. But in case they persist, or if you are feeling weak or uncomfortable after a nosebleed, consult your doctor.

The next section will tell you more about nosebleeds during pregnancy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can nosebleeds cause anemia during pregnancy?

Yes, frequent nosebleeds can dip the hemoglobin levels in your body and make you anemic.

2. Is there a link between nosebleeds and high blood pressure during pregnancy?

Yes, progesterone and estrogen (the pregnancy hormones) can dilate the blood vessels and increase the blood pressure. This increased pressure on the tender veins of nostrils leads to nosebleeds.

3. Nosebleeds and headaches: how are they related during pregnancy?

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can dilate the blood vessels and increase the blood volume around the nasal passages and brain as well. The increased blood circulation will, therefore, trigger nosebleeds and  headaches in some women.

4. Can a bloody nose during pregnancy predict gender?

No. It is a myth that a bloody nose during pregnancy indicates that the baby is a boy.

Pregnancy brings in several changes, including nosebleeds in some women. Do not get disturbed by nosebleeds, They increases the discomfort in the body during pregnancy but usually mean nothing more. But worrying about nosebleed can increase stress and anxiety levels which is bad for you and for your baby. Do not allow any worry to overshadow your beautiful pregnancy. If you have any doubts and need help understanding how to stop a nosebleed, talk to your doctor.

If you have experienced nosebleeds during pregnancy, do share the story with our other readers.

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Dr (Prof) Sadhana Kala

Dr (Prof) Sadhana Kala is the chief emeritus at Moolchand Medcity, senior consultant gynecologist at Apollo Cradle Royalé Hospital, and visiting consultant at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi. She is the honorary consultant gynecologist to the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force.  University topper, winner of several medals and a distinction in medicine, Dr. Kala became a professor at the... more

Rebecca Malachi

Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She has been into health and wellness writing since 2010. She received her graduate degree in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig... more