Congestion During Pregnancy

congestion during pregnancy

Women experience congestion during pregnancy due to pregnancy hormones.  If you are pregnant and have a runny nose, have suddenly started snoring, or worry you may actually sneeze your head off, you are in good company.  

Some women describe pregnancy congestion as a cold that never goes away.  

The congestion usually starts during your first trimester, but some women don’t experience it until later.


The main symptoms of congestion during pregnancy include

  • Trouble breathing through your nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Postnasal Drip
  • Snoring

The medical term for congestion during pregnancy is Pregnancy Rhinitis, which I think is appropriate since Rhinos don’t look like they can breath easily out of their noses either.  At least I don’t have a horn sticking out of mine …yet.  You can trust that no matter how badly the congestion may be irritating you right now, it will completely disappear within two weeks of delivering your baby!

Here is why it happens.  First your blood volume increases to support the development of your baby.  The small blood vessels in your nose and elsewhere become swollen and fill with extra blood.  In addition, estrogen causes increased mucous production and progesterone thickens the mucous.  Add all of these wonderful pregnancy hormones together and you have swollen tissues, and thicker than normal mucus.  

While all of this is wonderful for your baby, snoring and feeling all blocked up is no fun.  

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Dealing With Congestion During Pregnancy

Now that you are resigned to being a swollen, mucous production factory, here are some tips from the trenches for dealing with it.

Drink More Water

Drink more water.  Yes we know, there is already a bald spot in the carpet from you running back and forth from the bathroom!   Trust me, we have all been there!  

Still, drinking plenty of natural spring water is just what your body needs and will also help thin all of that thick mucous.

Start Rinsing Your Sinuses

Do a sinus rinse, especially at night, to flush out all of that extra mucus before you go to bed.  This will make it much easier to sleep.  

While I was pregnant, I did a sinus rinse in the evening and first thing in the morning.  Not only was I able to breathe again, but I didn’t get my usual winter cold.  

Actually, a nightly sinus rinse is one habit I don’t think I will ever give up.  I’ve found that rinsing my sinuses at night flushes out all of the pollen, viruses and bacteria I’ve accumulated in my sinuses during the day.  At least that is what I think is happening because I rarely ever get colds any more and I haven’t needed allergy medicine since my first pregnancy when I discovered sinus rinsing.  

I even rinse my kids sinuses whenever they have a cold.  Not one of my kids - and I have four - has ever had an ear infection!  I think this is because a sinus rinse, especially one performed with a squeeze bottle, rinses all of the sinuses as well as the Eustachian tubes that connect the throat to the ear.  Kids often get ear infections because their Eustachian tubes don’t drain well, causing mucous to collect, and when mucous sits around, bacteria grows in it.  Yuck!  

Sinus rinsing, especially with a NeilMed Sinus Rinse bottle like I use, gets rid of all of that junk. 

Read more about NeilMed and the benefits of sinus rinsing

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Sleep With A Nasal Strip

Buy a box of nasal strips!  Why?  Because I want to look like a football player or just really sexy in the bedroom?  NOT!  

When I sleep I usually breathe through my nose with my mouth shut.  I hate waking up in the middle of the night because I feel like I can’t breathe.  It is hard to breathe through a swollen nose.

I also don’t like to wake up because my face is wet due to sleeping in my own drool, which is what happens when I breathe through my mouth when I’m sleeping. I also hate waking up due to my own loud snoring.

Remember, you are  sexy, despite all of this and your body is doing very important work! Take it from me, all of these discomforts and indignities we have to put up with while pregnant really are worth it!  

Back to the nasal strips, they hold your nose open wider so that it is much easier to breathe through it, despite all of that swelling and mucous.  Ahhh!  It is so great to be able to breathe again.

Add Moisture To The Air

The last thing I do is to help me deal with the fact that congestion during pregnancy makes my sinuses alternate between being too dried out and too congested.  

On one hand I feel like I need to put lip balm up my nose because it is chapped in there.  On the other hand, I just wish I could breathe thru my nose.  

The humidity level in the air plays a big role in this problem.  

Sinus rinses help since they moisturize your sinuses and the saline solution will help sooth and heal chapped areas.  Still, when the air is dry, try breathing in steam or humidified air.  During the winter, I like to fire up my crock pot or put a pot of water on top of my wood burning stove to get some moisture in the air.  You can also put a humidifier in your bedroom.  

Another favorite I’ve discovered is to infuse essential oils in a diffuser next to my bed. Not only does this help when you have a real cold, but it will also help to loosen and move the mucous in your sinuses.  

At the very least, I personally have found sleeping with a thin sheet over my face helps since my own breath helps to humidify the air I’m breathing.  I can still get air but it is softer.  

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