Pregnancy is peculiar: nosebleeds

I have always wondered what the police would think if they had to try to solve a bloody crime at my house.  If they used their special cameras and chemicals like they do on Criminal Minds – which, obviously, they would – they would find splatter everywhere and all kinds of different attempts at cleaning. Things would look extremely shifty.

The reality, though, is that all that blood came from something a little less violent than they might imagine.

I get nosebleeds.

Before I started getting nosebleeds, back when I was an innocent little tot, I thought they were mysterious things, reserved for boxers and children who picked their noses too much. There were so many instructions about pinching and tilting and cooling and I was glad that I never had to deal with it because it all seemed very complicated.

And then, in grade eight, a kid whipped a basketball at the head of a classmate in anger. The classmate, not being an idiot, ducked, and the ball caught me squarely in the nose. I bled for two hours.

The instructions were, in fact, confusing. For every person telling me I should lean forward, there was another saying to tilt my head back. Some said to pinch at the bridge, while others encouraged me to let the blood flow freely out of my nostrils. Should I be applying heat? What about a cold pack?

None of it mattered, really – I just continued to bleed.

And from then on out, every winter, my nose dried out and I got daily nosebleeds. Of course, if I nudged my nose at all or gave it a little pick, that didn’t help.  Some of my nosebleeds lasted five minutes, some lasted for half an hour. I tried having it cauterized twice, but that didn’t seem to help. I bled, and I bled a lot.

(And I never really bought any of the instructions. My solution is to catch the blood as it flows with a tissue – while sitting up like a normal human being – and one things slow down, blowing my nose to get out the clot and starting the process over again until there are no more clots. Gross, huh?)

But in the past few years, that trend seems to have slowed down. Maybe I’m just picking aggravating my nose less often than I used to, or maybe it has taken my body ten years to finally heal from the wounds of the elementary school playground.

What that means is that I could have counted on one hand the number of nosebleeds I’d had at the house I now share with my husband. Here, there hadn’t been the same explosive episodes or anywhere close to the same volume of blood. A crime scene here would have been a lot easier to decipher.

But then, pregnancy struck.

It was about week 14, and I started noticing that I was getting nosebleeds at about the frequency I did in my teens. Weird, I thought. And then I turned to week 15 in the pregnancy instruction manual, and there it was; “you may experience nosebleeds in your pregnancy.”

Here’s what’s up. Babies require the production and use of lots of extra blood in the system. Blood plasma increases by about 50 per cent over the course of a pregnancy, so the body is just carrying around more blood. That can be a lot of pressure for some veins, like the delicate ones in the nose. Plus, hormones do crazy things – specifically in this case, an increase in progesterone and estrogen make the blood vessels swell, and guess what? The inevitable happens.

So yes, I’ve certainly had my fair share of nosebleeds in the house this year. CSI, worry not.

(But seriously, if something horrifyingly gory happens to me, please still check it out. I don’t want to have to haunt anyone over unfinished business.)


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