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What is ‘pregnancy nose’? It’s a real thing, caused by hormonal changes

What is ‘pregnancy nose’? It’s a real thing, caused by hormonal changes
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jan 21, 2023

From pregnancy gingivitis to prepartum hair loss and foot swelling, the miracle of life can take its toll on an expecting mom’s body.

But did you know that your nose can even change size during pregnancy? “Pregnancy nose” is not as well-known a phenomenon as swollen feet, but it can affect any mama-to-be … including celebrities!

Chrissy Teigen posted on social media about her experience with pregnancy nose on Twitter back in 2018 when she was pregnant with her son Miles, who is now 4 years old.

More recently, TikTok users have been sharing their experiences with pregnancy nose. User Alex Jacobson at @alexjoelenejacobson, for example, posted this video and got 1.3 million views.

@alexjoelenejacobson # stitch with @savannalynnbeauty #greenscreen my big pregnant nose 😭😂 #pregnancy ♬ original sound – Alex

This condition is common enough that there’s an old wives’ tale attached to it, which says if you experience pregnancy nose, you’re going to have a boy.

What Causes Pregnancy Nose?

While it may sound strange, pregnancy nose has a very simple explanation.

“Hormones of pregnancy — specifically estrogen — increase blood flow everywhere, but especially to mucus membranes of the body,” Angela Wilson-Liverman, a certified nurse midwife and associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told “Today.” “So that increase in blood flow can cause swelling in those areas, or puffiness, which can make the nose appear larger on the outside.”

In an eye-opening video on TikTok, labor and delivery nurse Liesel Teen explains why pregnancy nose is a thing and what expecting moms should know.

@mommy.labornurse Pregnancy nose 101! 🤰👃 #pregnancynose ♬ original sound – Liesel Teen, L&D RN 👩‍⚕️

As Teen explains, when you are pregnant, your body makes more blood. It does this to prepare for the blood loss that will occur during labor and delivery, but also to support the newly growing human inside of you. According to the 2014 issue of Circulation titled the Cardiovascular Physiology of Pregnancy, your blood volume can increase from 20% to 100% compared to your pre-pregnancy levels, with the average mom experiencing a blood volume increase of 45%.

All that extra blood is crucial for you and your baby, but it can lead to swelling throughout your body. While most women experience swelling in their lower body (such as their legs and feet), your face is rich with capillaries that can also expand and swell when your blood volume increases.

The result? Pregnancy nose. Technically, your nose doesn’t get larger — the extra blood simply makes it look wider.


Is Pregnancy Nose Dangerous?

Swelling in your nose is normal during pregnancy. Pregnancy rhinitis, or nasal congestion and runny nose, which also results from nose swelling and inflammation, is also normal.

However, if you notice swelling all over your body, or if it’s sudden and severe, this may be related to your blood pressure levels and you should check with a doctor, since preeclampsia may result.

What You Can Do About Pregnancy Nose

The good news is that your nose will return to its normal appearance in the days after you give birth. After all, your nose isn’t actually growing or changing in size during pregnancy. It’s just the swelling around your nose that makes your nose appear wider.

There are some ways you can reduce facial swelling during pregnancy. To start with, reduce your salt intake and drink more water. Taking in more water reduces water retention, which in turn reduces swelling. Get regular exercise and use a humidifier.

Pregnant woman does yoga

The following tips are generally useful to reduce facial swelling and may therefore help with pregnancy nose.

Consider Your Sleeping Position

Think about it: When you are standing or sitting, your body has to work against gravity to pump blood to your head and upper body. When upright, gravity also helps to send blood back down to your body. But you’re lying flat, your blood has an easier time flowing to and from your head, and it also pools there as there is less force sending it back to your lower body. This means you will have more blood (and swelling) in your face when you wake up.

In addition, facial fluid retention also increases during the night. This is why you wake up “puffy” even when you are not pregnant, but since pregnancy involves more fluid retention in general, the effects could be be more dramatic.

Keepyour head elevated while you sleep, as this can help promote healthy blood flow and keep blood from pooling in your face (this can also help to improve the appearance of under-eye bags and dark circles under your eyes).

“Sleeping on more of an incline will help to drain fluid away from your face overnight,” dermatologist Dr. Nicole Hayre told the Huffington Post.

Cool Your Face Down

In addition, cooling face masks can also improve blood flow.

Washing your face with cold water can also help to boost circulation and get that pooled blood moving. You can also give yourself an “ice facial” which supermodels are known to do before shows: Simply dunk your face into a sink full of ice water for 30 seconds.

“There are many benefits to applying ice water to the skin such as decreasing inflammation and reducing puffiness, also improving the appearance of the skin tone, minimizing the appearance of enlarged pores and improving superficial wrinkles,” cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green told Insider.

Don’t want to dunk your head in ice water every morning? You might consider “ice globes.” These glass tools are stored in the refrigerator (not the freezer), and are used for facial massage whenever your skin is feeling puffy or overheated.

By Bridget Sharkey, for Scripps News

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