Congestion and nosebleeds
During pregnancy, you may have a runny or stuffy nose or occasional nosebleeds. These symptoms often begin toward the end of the first trimester and may continue until after delivery.
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 petroleum jelly. Place some around the outside of your nostrils.
- Use saline nose drops or spray. 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 5 to 10 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, if the bleeding doesn't stop after applying pressure and ice, or if bleeding lasts longer than 20 minutes. 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 December 2013
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you know you're pregnant?
Knowing the signs of pregnancy can help you tell if you’re pregnant. Here are some signs that you might be pregnant:
If you have any of these pregnancy signs and think you may be pregnant, go to your health care provider. The sooner you know you're pregnant, the sooner you can begin prenatal checkups and start taking good care of yourself and your growing baby.
Is my baby moving enough?
You'll start feeling your baby's kicks at around the 28th week of pregnancy. By this time, your baby's movements are usually well established and some health care providers recommend keeping track of these movements.
- Track kick counts at about the same time each day when your baby is active.
- Track kick counts shortly after you've eaten a meal (when your baby may be most active).
- Sit or lay on your side, place your hands on your belly and monitor baby's movement.
- Mark every movement down on a piece of paper. Don't count baby's hiccups.
Keep counting until you've felt 10 movements from baby. If baby doesn't move 10 times within 1 hour, try again later that day. Call your health provider if your baby's movement seems unusual or you've tried more than once that day and can't feel baby move 10 times or more during 1 hour.
When will I start feeling my baby move?
Popcorn popping. A little fish swimming. Bubbles. Butterflies. Tickles. These are common words used by women to describe their baby's first movements. Also known as "quickening," it's a reassuring sign that your baby is OK and growing. This milestone typically starts sometime between 18 to 25 weeks into pregnancy. For first-time moms, it may occur closer to 25 weeks, and for second- or third-time moms, it may happen much sooner.
At first it may be difficult to tell the difference between gas and your baby moving. You might not feel movement as early as you are expecting to feel it, but you'll notice a pattern soon. You'll start to learn when the baby is most active and what seems to get her moving.