Did you know that estrogen, the main female hormone, can cause nasal congestion and nosebleeds during pregnancy?
Women become more prone to nosebleeds when they’re expecting. According to studies, about 1 in 5 pregnant women will experience at least two nosebleeds before giving birth. Fortunately, they’re rarely cause for alarm.
Pregnancy hormones affect the nose in several ways. For example, estrogen can cause nasal congestion and increased nasal secretions, while progesterone increases blood flow in the nose.
These changes can lead to more frequent nosebleeds.
What to do when you have a nosebleed
- Pinch your nose firmly just above your nostrils for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Tilt your head forward to prevent blood from going down your throat.
- Remain sitting or standing. Avoid lying down.
- Apply ice to the nasal bone.
- Avoid blowing your nose, bending down, or exerting yourself for the next 12 hours.
If your nosebleed lasts for more than 20 minutes, call Info-Santé (811).
How to prevent nosebleeds
- Avoid overheated rooms, as heat dries out the mucous membranes and makes them more prone to bleeding.
- Use saline nose drops. You can make your own saline drops by dissolving 10 ml (2 tsp) of salt and 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) of baking soda in 1 L (4 cups) of boiled water. Store the solution in the refrigerator in a clean, sealed glass container for up to 7 days. You can keep some in a small bottle at room temperature. Any solution that has been left unrefrigerated for more than 24 hours should be discarded.
- Most decongestants are not recommended during the first trimester. However, some are okay to use once you reach the second trimester. If symptoms persist, consult a health care professional.
- Avoid secondhand smoke.
- Inhale steam from a hot shower or bowl of hot water.
- Massage your sinuses with your fingertips.
Are humidifiers a good idea?
Many health experts now advise against the use of humidifiers. If not cleaned properly, these appliances provide the ideal environment for bacteria and mould to grow, as the water inside is left standing at room temperature for long periods. Furthermore, the vast majority of users seem to ignore the maintenance routine recommended by manufacturers.
Things to keep in mind
Nosebleeds are common in pregnant women.
Mild nosebleeds are nothing to worry about.
Staying away from dry areas and avoiding irritating substances such as cigarette smoke or decongestants can reduce the frequency of nosebleeds.
Scientific review: Dr. Chantal Ouellet, physician
Research and copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: November 2020
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Crunkhorn, Rosa Elizabeth Mary, et al. “Torrential epistaxis in the third trimester: A management conundrum.” BMJ Case Reports, 2014.
Doré, Nicole, and Danielle Le Hénaff. From Tiny Tot to Toddler: A practical guide for parents from pregnancy to age two. Quebec City, Institut national de santé publique du Québec. www.inspq.qc.ca
Ladewig, Patricia, et al. Soins infirmiers en périnatalité. 4th ed., Montreal, ERPI, 2010.
NHS. “Nosebleeds in pregnancy.” www.nhs.uk