Pregnant and sniffly? Swollen and aghast? If you've noticed something strange about your schnauz these days, you're not imagining things. Noses absolutely get runny and swollen when you're expecting. (In fact, you may have noticed the latter in pictures taken at your cousin's wedding.) But why does your nose swell during pregnancy?
The cause depends on which trimester you're in, according to Megan Schmitt, MD, a Park Nicollet OB-GYN who delivers babies at Methodist Hospital Family Birth Center in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Beginning in the first trimester, and lasting into the second, blood vessels expand to send more blood to your baby. "Not only does this happen in the uterus, but it happens all over the body," explains Schmitt in an email to Romper. Blood vessels expand in your nasal passages and sinuses, which gives many moms a runny nose, and can make you feel congested or slightly swollen.
While not preventable, symptoms should ease by the mid-second trimester. Schmitt notes that "there are medications that can help constrict blood vessels and dry things out a bit . . . Over-the-counter antihistamines that people use for allergies, like Allegra or Zyrtec, do this and are very safe to use during pregnancy."
If you develop a visibly swollen nose at the end of pregnancy, you're likely dealing with water retention. "Most women notice the lower extremities of their bodies, usually their legs or their feet, swell . . . [but] women can get swelling in the upper extremities (for example, the wrists and the hands), too," writes Schmitt. Your face can also retain water, which may cause your nose to swell to an annoying degree.
While "the vast majority" of facial swelling is totally normal according to Schmitt, she worries about any sudden swelling located anywhere in the body (face, hands, feet). Sudden or severe swelling can indicate high blood pressure. As you likely know by now, preeclampsia is a serious condition. Because scary preeclampsia and harmless water retention both develop in late pregnancy, it's a good idea to let your doctor know if your nose swells up. You can wait until your next scheduled visit as long as swelling was gradual and you don't have other symptoms.
A swollen nose isn't anyone's favorite part of pregnancy. (Is it?) The good news is that whether you're retaining water or your blood vessels are dilating, it's temporary. Your nose will be picture perfect once more.