During pregnancy, a pregnant woman’s hormones care constantly changing. These hormonal changes can create any number of symptoms for pregnant women. Hormone changes can even be responsible for a stuffy nose. The hormones, combined with an increased supply of blood, can make the pregnant woman’s nasal membranes swell, become dried out, or even be more susceptible to bleeding. Many pregnant women have a constant runny nose or stuffy nose, but have no other cold or cold-like symptoms to speak of. Part of what makes this especially difficult is that pregnant women should avoid some specific types of medications, because they bring with them certain risks.
Generally speaking, pregnant women should always try to talk to their health care provider before taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications. Many medications create no harm or risk of hard to pregnant women or their babies; however, by talking to their health care provider they can help to avoid any dangers.
Decongestants are, in general, one of the types of medications that have not been sufficiently tested on pregnant women to know whether or not they should take them. This does not guarantee that they pose any risk to pregnant women, only that there have not been studies that demonstrate their safety.
If a pregnant woman has a stuffy nose, there are things that she can do without resorting to decongestants. She can typically use old antihistamines, such as chlorpheniramine, that have been tested to be safe for pregnant women. Many newer antihistamines, such as Benadryl, have not been studied sufficiently. Here again, a pregnant woman should consult with her health care provider.
Using a humidifier at nighttime, rather than medications, helps many pregnant women clear their nasal passages. In addition, a humidifier may help with a pregnant woman’s sleep patterns. In lieu of a humidifier, pregnant women can use the steam of a warm shower to help clear their noses. Keeping hydrated is also important for pregnant women, not only for other reasons, but because it will help to keep their nasal passages good and moist.
There are a variety of saline-based nose drops or sprays that pregnant women might take during pregnancy. Here again, it is best that she check with her health care provider.