I was well aware of many symptoms of pregnancy: the swelling, the achy joints, the moodiness, the hunger, the nausea, the exhaustion. Hell, some people even clued me in on their changing bowel movements, hemorrhoids, and strange bodily fluids. You know, just to warn me. But there was one condition I never knew existed. Not one person told me about it. I didn’t read about it. Nothing. So I was completely unprepared when I surprisingly couldn’t breath out of my nose for (basically) my entire pregnancy. I had never heard of pregnancy rhinitis until I had it — for all three of my pregnancies.
If you have suffered from pregnancy rhinitis, you feel me. And if you aren’t familiar with it, consider this your PSA.
Pregnancy rhinitis is incredibly uncomfortable and frustrating. It makes enjoying good food impossible, and climbing a flight of stairs exhausting. Not to mention you start breathing out of your mouth like a dragon because that’s the only way you can get any oxygen into your enlarged body.
People start giving you the side eye and asking if you are upset because, apparently, breathing heavily out of your mouth makes others uncomfortable. Honestly, it was all I could do not to punch someone in the eyeball whenever they made comments about me trying to keep air into my lungs.
Pregnancy rhinitis can creep up early in the first trimester and usually leaves you congested until after you deliver, because pregnancy isn’t hashtag blessed enough without feeling like you have cotton stuffed up your nostrils for nine months.
Between 18 and 42% of pregnant woman experience this frustrating condition, which is thought to be caused by increased blood volume that occurs during pregnancy to protect the growing fetus. The excess blood can also constrict the small blood vessels in the nose, and all the extra estrogen we are producing causes more mucous, thereby blocking the nose from doing important things like breathing. Smaller nasal passages plus more snot equals one very unhappy mama to be.
If you have been stuffy for weeks on end with nasal drip, runny nose, and coughing with no other symptoms, unfortunately you may have this annoying condition — but check with your doctor for a proper diagnosis, of course.
I literally had a nasal strip on my nose for the duration of my pregnancy whenever I wasn’t out in public. And honestly, there were times I felt like wearing one of the fuckers to the grocery store. When you are as large as the local cows grazing in the pasture, peeing your pants every fifteen minutes, and have food stored in your cleavage, a nasal strip just adds to the already delightful package.
Blowing my nose never helped, and saline nose spray didn’t even touch my congestion. I also went through tubs of VapoRub thinking it would give me some relief, but it did not. Neither did punching my pillow every night because I would wake up and feel like I was choking if my mouth closed while I was trying to catch some precious Z’s.
What did help were hot compresses on my nose, warm showers, chicken noodle soup, and sleeping sitting up (no, I’m not kidding). I didn’t lie down for the last six months of any of my pregnancies. Those pregnancy body pillows will become your best friend if you are struggling — you must get one for yourself, I demand it.
It is also recommended to drink plenty of water (which, unfortunately, I didn’t do), and to use humidifier for some relief. My girlfriend had one going in her house the whole time she was pregnant and she said it helped keep her nose clear.
The good news is symptoms of pregnancy rhinitis should disappear completely about two weeks after you deliver, but you need to be comfortable in the meantime. So go load up on some nasal strips, get yourself a new partner (er, pillow), and tell someone you love they can keep you stocked up on chicken noodle soup. And rest assured, the real relief will come after you deliver your precious bundle.