Nosebleeds during pregnancy are fairly common. Although they can be alarming, in most cases there's no need to worry and you should be able to treat a bleeding nose yourself.
Why are nosebleeds common during pregnancy?
During your first trimester the amount of blood circulating in your body increases and your heart works harder. This means that the lining of your nasal passage (inside your nose) also receives more blood. You have tiny blood vessels inside your nose so the increased blood volume can sometimes damage those blood vessels and cause them to burst, resulting in a nosebleed.
Changes in your hormones during pregnancy can also contribute to nosebleeds.
These changes can make your nose feel congested (stuffy) and it might get more blocked up than usual. Your gums may also feel swollen and may bleed.
A nosebleed may last for a few seconds or a few minutes, and can flow from one or both nostrils. The blood flow can be light or quite heavy. If a nosebleed happens at night, while you’re sleeping, you may wake up feeling the blood going down the back of your throat before you sit up. It will then come out of your nose.
Are nosebleeds during pregnancy a cause for concern?
Nosebleeds can give you a fright or be a nuisance, but as long as you don’t lose a lot of blood, they are generally nothing to be worried about. In most cases, a nosebleed won’t harm you or your baby.
How do I stop a nosebleed if I have one?
- 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.
- Spit out any blood that is in your mouth.
- You may also want to 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 can I avoid a nose bleed?
If you are blowing your nose, do so gently and try to avoid large sneezes. You should also avoid picking your nose. You could be more likely to get nosebleeds in winter months when the air is dryer, so you may like to use a dehumidifier in your home to moisten the air.
If you’ve recently had a nosebleed:
- Sneeze with your mouth open.
- Try to avoid bending down or vigorously exercising for at least 12 hours afterwards.
- Avoid hitting your nose on anything.
When should I see a doctor?
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
For more information, or to discuss any concerns you might have about nosebleeds, call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436.
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Last reviewed: June 2021