Question: My nose has been stuffed up a lot, and sometimes bleeds for no obvious reason. Should I be worried?

Answer: No, but you’ll want to stock up on Kleenex. Nasal congestion, often with accompanying nosebleeds, is a common issue during pregnancy. The high levels of estrogen and progesterone flowing in your body bring increased blood flow to your mucous membranes in your nose, making them soften and swell.

Your stuffiness will probably get worse before it gets better—which won’t be until after you deliver. You may also experience sinus congestion and a postnasal drip, which may lead to nighttime coughing and gagging. Avoid using medication or medicated nasal sprays, unless your doctor prescribes them. Saline (salt) sprays are safe though and can be very effective.

Congestion and bleeding are more common during the winter months, as your heater will force hot, dry air in your house, drying your nasal passages. You might try using a humidifier to help with this dryness. Another idea is to lubricate each nostril with a small dab of petroleum jelly, applied with a cotton swab. Some women have shared that nasal strips (the kind that prevent snoring) to be helpful in decreasing stuffiness. If you doctor approves, you might take an extra 250 mg of vitamin C, so that you can strengthen your capillaries and reduce your risk of bleeding.

Be careful when blowing your nose, as sometimes a nosebleed can follow an overly energetic nose-blowing. The correct way to blow your nose is to first gently close one nostril with your thumb, then carefully blow out the opposite side. Repeat with the other nostril, continuing to switch until you can breathe through your nose. You can curb a nosebleed by sitting or standing leaning slightly forward. Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the area just above your nostrils and below the bridge of your nose and hold for five minutes.