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The female body undergoes a lot of physical changes during pregnancy. During this period, the circulatory system of the body expands to accommodate the baby. As a result of this, blood circulation increases and the nasal blood vessels expand. These blood vessels are quite delicate, and the increased blood supply becomes a primary reason for nose bleeding during pregnancy. The technical term for a nosebleed is epistaxis.
Are Nosebleeds Common In Pregnancy?
Amongst the problems faced by women during pregnancy, nosebleeds are fairly common. Almost 20% of pregnant women suffer from it as compared to 6% non-pregnant women. An occasional nosebleed should not be cause for alarm and can prove to be harmless in most cases. Most doctors are of the opinion that nosebleeds in early pregnancy are common due to pressure on the nasal blood vessels. As long as you are not losing too much blood through nosebleeds, you should be okay.
Causes Of Pregnancy Nosebleeds
The following are common causes of nosebleeds during pregnancy:
- The delicate vessels in your nose are under tremendous pressure due to the increased blood supply during pregnancy. In fact, the blood volume increases by as much as 50% due to which the tiny vessel in the nose expands. Since they rupture easily, they prove to be a common cause for nosebleeds.
- Medical conditions like hypertension or clotting or an injury could become one of the causes of nosebleeds.
- You can get a bloody nose during pregnancy when you have cold, allergies, sinus infection or even when the nasal membranes dry out. This could happen when you live in a cold climate or if your home/office is air-conditioned.
- Incessant nose-picking is also a cause of nosebleeds during pregnancy and should be avoided.
- Inhaling cleaning products (read chemical agents) can irritate the nasal membrane. Agents like ammonia and harsh acids used for removing stains etc. should, therefore, be completely avoided during pregnancy.
- Use of aspirin and blood thinners can prove to be probable causes of nosebleeds. Your doctor might be able to suggest an alternative or change the dosage, so, speak to him if you are taking any of these.
- Air-borne allergies can lead to nosebleeds.
- Although there is no method of avoiding a common cold, it is best to keep it away by abstaining from excessive cold drinks or frozen eatables like ice cream etc.
How To Stop A Nosebleed?
Do the following things when your nose begins to bleed during pregnancy:
- Sit down as soon as the bleeding begins. However, ensure that your head is at a higher level that of your heart.
- Do not lie down or bend backward either as the blood may enter your mouth.
- Hold/pinch the bleeding nostril for about 10 minutes.
- Bend forward and breathe through the mouth for the time being.
- Ensure you hold the nostril for at least 7-8 minutes, and do not release it to check if the bleeding has stopped.
- If you feel faint, lie down on your side but not on the back.
- Keep track of the time taken for the nosebleed to stop as it shouldn’t exceed 20 minutes. Use it as a benchmark for timing if the nosebleed repeats.
Preventing Nosebleeds While Pregnant
As the age-old saying goes “prevention is better than cure”, you can do the following things to ensure that you stay away from nosebleeds during pregnancy:
- Never blow your nose too hard. Develop the habit of blowing it gently to prevent a nosebleed. Also, blow the nose only when necessary as frequent blowing could lead to bleeding.
- Keeping the mucous membranes hydrated is the key to avoid nosebleeds. Ensure you keep yourself hydrated through the day.
- If you live in a dry climate or during winter, make liberal use of a humidifier. Install one if you do not have one. The chances of a nosebleed are dramatically reduced due to the moistened air it creates.
- Smoke can initiate a sneezing bout, so stay away from it.
- If your doctor has suggested a decongestant or a medicated nose spray, make sure you follow the instructions exactly as given. Overuse can lead to a negative effect. Make sure the spray does not dry out your nasal passage as this could increase the irritation further.
- Try sneezing with your mouth open to divide the immense pressure of the sneeze and give your nose some relief too.
- It is important to keep the nose from drying completely. Using a lubricant like petroleum jelly is of great help or you could use saline sprays and drops. Special water-based OTC lubricants can also do the trick for you.
Can Nosebleeds Affect Your Pregnancy?
Nosebleeds do not have a telling impact on your pregnancy or the manner of giving birth to the baby. However, you may be advised to opt for a C-section delivery instead of a normal one. This is done especially if you experience nosebleeds quite frequently, especially post the second trimester till the delivery.
If you have nosebleeds during pregnancy, there is a 10% chance of the same increasing after the birth of your baby. These nosebleeds are mostly limited till the time you are pregnant and stop after delivery. They stop automatically after you give birth to the baby without any additional medications.
When To Worry About Nosebleeds In Pregnancy?
While nosebleeds in pregnancy are common, you should be worried if it leads to certain health issues. It is always a prudent thing to seek quick medical attention under such conditions. In pregnant state, you will be at a higher risk for diabetes, stroke, and hypertension. You should be worried if nosebleeds are accompanied by any of the symptoms mentioned below:
- If the nosebleed is accompanied by laboured breathing or persistent chest ache, you should definitely be worried. Slight discomfort may be fine, but if the pain is quite severe or prolonged, it should be checked.
- Facial drooping, tingling or any kind of numbness can be indicators of a stroke and should be quickly addressed as time could be short.
- One should be seeking medical attention if the person affected loses consciousness.
- Feelings of confusion post nosebleeds should receive quick medical attention as should light-headedness.
- Any kind of trauma that leads to nosebleeds should be immediately investigated.
When Should You Call The Doctor?
Pregnancy is the time when every tiny issue can get blown out of proportion since your health could be under threat. Nosebleeds are common in pregnancy, but you surely do not want to take a risk if the frequency of getting one is abnormal. Speak to your doctor so that he can eliminate any major problems lurking behind it. It is best to call your doctor and ask for a quick check in case of the following:
- The blood flow is quite heavy.
- The bleeding doesn’t stop even after 20-30 minutes of holding or pressure on the nose.
- The bleeding causes heavy breathing and leads to breathlessness.
- In case of a head injury, you get a nose bleed. Call the doctor even if the bleeding is low.
- You feel disoriented, lightheaded or fatigued.
- There is mild discomfort or chest pain.
- Your skin turns pale due to bleeding.
- You must call the doctor if you have high blood pressure as the blood flow can increase.
- Speak to the doctor if the steps mentioned above in “How to stop a nosebleed” do not work and the bleeding continues.
When you are pregnant, it is a good thing to be completely attuned to the needs of your body. With so many pregnant women and new mothers around you, there certainly won’t be any dearth of well-meaning advice. However, you will do well not to become too perturbed about every changing experience. This will lead to unwanted anxiety and stress. Of course, you should take a note of nosebleeds but remember it is common during pregnancy. If it worries you to no end, you will allow it to overshadow the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth.