Pregnancy Congestion: How To Survive A Stuffy Nose While Pregnant

First step: hydration.

by Scary Mommy
Originally Published: 
pregnant woman with stuffy nose, pregnant woman, pregnant belly
comzeal/ Getty

Congestion during pregnancy may not sound like a big deal — until you have it, that is. Turns out, breathing is kind of essential to being a human and all. And with a tiny new baby pressing on your diaphragm, a constant stuffy nose can make the whole inhaling and exhaling shebang pretty hard.

Plus, once that morning sickness subsides, congestion can keep you from tasting all those delicious pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Or, you know, that pint of frozen yogurt. After all, we’re eating a balanced diet.

Luckily, there are some pretty good ways to help you alleviate all those congestion symptoms.

What is pregnancy rhinitis?

Don’t worry; congestion is just another super weird but totally normal symptom of pregnancy. It’s called pregnancy rhinitis.

What causes pregnancy rhinitis?

It’s all those hormones in your body creating more mucous and screwing with your schnoz. Also, because there’s so much more blood coursing through your veins while pregnant, blood can flow to the nasal passages and expand your veins. The increase in blood flow can make your nose feel gross, and aside from congestion, can also give you nose bleeds. Fun times!

Does pregnancy rhinitis affect the baby?

Thankfully, pregnancy rhinitis does not directly affect your baby or your delivery. But it could impact a pregnant person's ability to get a good night's rest. People tend to feel the brunt of their pregnancy rhinitis in the evenings, making it hard to fall asleep and get the rest they need.

How can you treat congestion when you’re pregnant?

There are some great, natural ways that will help alleviate your pregnancy congestion.

  • Hydrate: Yes, you’re already running to the bathroom a billion times a day, but drinking water does help your nose from getting even more stopped up. So keep that little bottle of water near and dear.
  • Get a humidifier: Dryness can really make your congestion worse. So whenever you can, be around a working humidifier. Or two, or three. Fill your house with luxurious mist and walk through it like the mysterious badass you are. You can even add a relaxing essential oil to help you sleep better, as long as it doesn’t irritate your nose.
  • Elevate your head while sleeping: As bad as congestion is when you’re walking around just trying to live your pregnant life, it can get downright suffocating when you’re lying down. So make sure to prop your head up. Maybe invest in a luxurious pregnancy pillow? After all, it’s important to get as much sleep as possible before your little one comes along and (very adorably) steals all your precious sleep.
  • Get a move on: Turns out, exercise helps with congestion. Which, we know, is easier said than done, especially when you’re struggling to breathe. We definitely would not recommend a Cross Fit class, but a brisk walk or a prenatal yoga class can do wonders.

What are some other natural remedies you can use to treat pregnancy congestion?

  • Try nasal irrigation: Let’s face it — neti pots seem gross. But also, they can be magical creations that help your nose breathe freely. Seriously, pregnancy is already gross enough, why not give it a try. Just be sure to keep that baby super clean and only use filtered water in it.
  • Use saline drops: Saline drops are basically water and salt, so they’re totally pregnancy safe. You can even make your own solution by mixing 1 cup of warm water with 1/8 tsp salt and a tiny pinch of baking soda. Oh, salty, salty relief.
  • Get some nasal strips: As mentioned above, sleep is super important. Nasal strips might not be a turn-on for your bedmate, but they will help you breathe better at night.

What congestion medicine can you take while pregnant?

Consult your doctor before you take any medication, as they may recommend the safest over-the-counter decongestants. And make sure to check back in with your doctor if your rhinitis gets too severe.

How long does pregnancy rhinitis last?

The good news is that pregnancy rhinitis will disappear completely about two weeks after you give birth, even though that may feel like it’s eons away when you’re in the middle of your pregnancy. But we’re here to tell you, you will breathe like a human again.

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