What is ‘pregnancy nose’? Moms go viral for before and after photos

Tyreece Gilligan knew her body would change when she became pregnant. However, she was not prepared for the “shocking” transformation of her facial features.

“When I was three months pregnant, my nose grew three sizes,” Gilligan, 26, of Minnesota, tells .com, adding that her skin also became dry, her body odor changed and her naturally curly hair became flat and frayed.

Although she was self-conscious about her face, Gilligan’s doctor assured her that “pregnancy nose” (when the nasal mucous membranes swell due to increased blood flow and hormones) was normal and likely temporary.

Two weeks after giving birth to her son, Gilligan’s nose returned to its normal size. Today, she can laugh about her discomfort and be grateful to be the mother of a little boy.

Gilligan shared before and after photos of her pregnancy on TikTok, where her video garnered more than 16 million views and hundreds of comments.

  • “My pregnancy nose is a real pain. I’m on my third child and it never gets better.”
  • “I feel this spiritually. I thought it would be nice, but I turned into a potato.”
  • “Same thing! Exactly like it was for me! My son is now 8 years old and my nose is back to normal!”
  • “I refuse to believe it’s the same person.”

According to board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Nicole Alicia Sparks, two hormones that increase during pregnancy are responsible for swelling in parts of the body, including the nose.

“There are a lot of physiological changes during pregnancy, with estrogen and progesterone being key factors,” Sparks tells .com. “Estrogen causes blood vessels to dilate and can make the nose look fuller, rounder or larger, and progesterone increases blood flow to the mucous membranes.”

According to Sparks, not everyone’s nose grows during pregnancy; when it does, it’s usually around the third trimester and usually returns to its original size within a few months. There’s no way to prevent “pregnancy nose,” Sparks adds.

Women with severe swelling, especially in the third trimester, Sparks says, should seek medical attention to rule out pregnancy complications.

New mom Abby Heath also shared a TikTok video of her changing face during pregnancy with the caption: “Normalizing pregnancy nose and swelling.”

Heath, who gave birth two months ago, didn’t realise how much her face, and particularly her nose, had changed until she looked at her pregnancy photos.

“My forehead also swelled up and I had a double chin,” she tells .com. “Everything got bigger and puffier.”

Although Heath’s husband swore he didn’t notice any changes in her face and friends assured her she looked normal, she avoided photos — something Heath says she now regrets, given that her college graduation ceremony took place days before she gave birth.

Heath’s nose is almost back to its original size, he said in a TikTok video.

“Even if my nose doesn’t go back to the way it was, I’m OK with that,” she said. “I feel like even if I keep losing weight and the swelling keeps going down… my body is still going to look different than it did before I had a baby, because I had a baby and my body is supposed to change and that’s OK.”

Becky Hathaway is seven months pregnant with her second child and is already seeing signs of the “pregnancy nose” she had during her first pregnancy.

“I was past 40 weeks and at the time I was living in Florida where it was very hot, which contributed to my (swelling),” Hathaway tells .com. “I was very insecure and thought my facial features were permanently changing. My doctor just said I was bloated.”

Hathaway, whose daughter is now 4, says it took about a year after giving birth for the swelling in her nose to go down.

Remember that pregnancy is a huge period of emotional and physical growth, says Jennifer Meyers, a certified nurse-midwife at Mayo Clinic Health System.

“Just like you don’t notice the rate at which your children grow, you see your face several times a day,” she says. “You may not notice[the size of your nose]until you look back at photos.”

Now pregnant again, Hathaway isn’t bothered by the size of her nose.

“I know it’s temporary,” she says, adding, “I’m giving myself a lot more grace.”

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