Should I worry about nosebleeds during pregnancy?

Here’s why your nose is bleeding all of a sudden now that you’re pregnant.

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If you blow your nose and suddenly find blood on your tissue, something that’s never happened to you before, you might be a bit freaked out – but before you start panicking, read this.

Nosebleeds during pregnancy are common

Dr Mark Van Der Griendt, a gynaecologist and obstetrician in private practice in Johannesburg reassures moms-to-be that when this happens, you don’t need to panic. “Nosebleeds are common, as is bleeding when brushing your teeth.”

He explains this is because the small blood vessels in your nose are more sensitive and delicate during pregnancy.

“Also, during this time, the blood volume in your body increases so that you can provide your baby with enough oxygen and nutrients. This fills up the small veins more than usual, and they become more fragile and have more of a tendency to burst and bleed.”

Dr Van Der Griendt adds that as the nasal passages are mucous membranes, they get damaged more easily and so they bleed more than usual. “As long as you had no bleeding disorder before you fell pregnant, or you haven’t developed one during your pregnancy, this usually settles down again after you give birth.”

ALSO SEE: 10 pregnancy warning signs to look out for

How to stop a nosebleed?

Here are some tips to help stem your nosebleed when it strikes:

  • Whether you’re sitting or standing, keep your head upright. This reduces the pressure in the blood vessels inside your nose and will help to slow down the bleeding.
  • Pinch the soft part of your nose, underneath the bony ridge, between your thumb and forefinger. Once you have done this, the two sides of your nose should be pressed together. Keep pinching, without releasing for 10 minutes.
  • If your nose is bleeding a lot, you may want to lean slightly forward and breathe through your mouth so the blood runs out of your nose, rather than down the back of your throat.
  • You can also suck an ice cube or put an icepack on the back of your neck or forehead, or the bony part of your nose.
  • After 10 minutes, gently release your pinch to see if the bleeding has stopped.
  • If your nose is still bleeding, try this procedure again for another 10 minutes.

How to avoid nosebleeds during pregnancy?

There’s not much you can do to prevent a nosebleed during pregnancy but dry air can make you more susceptible during the cold, winter months. A good idea is to use a humidifier in your home to moisten the air. It also helps to dab some moisturising petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) around your nostrils before going to bed at night.

ALSO SEE: How to choose a humidifier

When blowing your nose be gentle – and for obvious reasons, you should avoid picking your nose! Indeed, this might be the time to splurge out on those super soft, moisturising tissues.

When should I see a doctor?

Nosebleeds during pregnancy usually let up quite quickly, but let your doctor know straight away if your nosebleed happens after bumping your head.

You should also contact your doctor if:

  • You have high blood pressure.
  • You have taken the steps above and your nosebleed hasn’t stopped after 20 minutes.
  • You have trouble breathing through your mouth.
  • There seems to be a large amount of blood.
  • You are getting nosebleeds frequently.
  • You have swallowed a lot of blood and vomited.
  • You have a fever or chill.

More about the expert:

Dr Mark van der Griendt is a gynaecologist and obstetrician based in Johannesburg. Learn more about Dr Mark van der Griendt here

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