Although many people do worry more than usual while pregnant, sneezing during pregnancy should not cause any anxiety. Sneezing can occur more frequently during pregnancy but does not usually mean anything is wrong with baby or mother.

Some causes of sneezing during pregnancy include:

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What are the causes of sneezing during pregnancy?

People can sneeze for many reasons while they are pregnant:

Pregnancy rhinitis

Pregnant woman sitting on bed sneezing and blowing her nose.
Pregnancy rhinitis is a common condition that causes nasal congestion.

Pregnancy causes many changes in the body.

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These changes can lead to pregnancy rhinitis, a condition that affects 39 percent of women at some point during their pregnancy.

Pregnancy rhinitis often causes extra nasal congestion.

This congestion can last for 6 weeks or longer during pregnancy and can cause many symptoms, including increased sneezing.

During pregnancy, blood flow to the mucous membranes increases. The nose is full of mucous membranes. The extra blood flow causes the nasal passages to swell, which leads to extra watery discharge and congestion.

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Both the additional discharge and congestion can lead to increased sneezing.

Illness

Pregnant people have weaker immune systems and are more likely to get a cold, flu, or another bug. These illnesses may last longer and be more severe than in someone who is not pregnant.

When a person is not pregnant, their body typically reacts to germs quickly. During pregnancy, the body’s immune system responds more slowly and gently, because it does not want to mistake the baby for something harmful.

Colds are usually harmless during pregnancy, but the flu or any other illness that causes a fever can be dangerous for both mother and baby. Expectant mothers who are sneezing and think they may have the flu or another illness that causes a fever should call a doctor promptly.

Allergies

People who have allergies that cause sneezing and other upper respiratory symptoms when they are not pregnant, will likely still have allergy symptoms while pregnant. Seasonal allergies, such as hay fever and pollen allergies, as well as indoor allergies can all trigger sneezing.

Risks

Pregnant woman with pain in belly.
Sneezing during pregnancy may cause pain around the belly.

Sneezing during pregnancy does not pose a risk to mother or baby most of the time.

Sneezing can, however, be a symptom of an illness or a more significant problem that may affect the baby.

When sneezing indicates a more severe problem, there may be risks. For example, if someone gets the flu, risks might include miscarriage, low birth weight, and premature birth.

People who are pregnant may also find that sneezing causes pain around the belly. While this radiating pain does cause discomfort, it is not dangerous. This phenomenon is known as round ligament pain and occurs as the ligaments stretch and loosen during pregnancy.

How is it managed?

Many medicines that are safe to take while not pregnant are not recommended during pregnancy.

The American Pregnancy Association recommend that pregnant people limit the amount of over-the-counter (OTC) medications they take during pregnancy. This means that many common cold medications that would reduce sneezing are off limits.

Home remedies

Ways to manage sneezing during pregnancy without using medication include:

  • saline nasal sprays
  • neti pots
  • using a humidifier
  • avoiding known allergens
  • using an air purifier
  • treating asthma as directed by a doctor
  • exercising regularly
  • eating a diet rich in vitamins

People should also talk to their doctor about the best ways to avoid getting ill during pregnancy. Most doctors recommend people have a flu shot to prevent the flu while they are pregnant.

When to see a doctor

Pregnant patient looking at clipboard with doctor.
A doctor should be consulted if sneezing is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a fever.

People should see their doctor immediately if they suspect that the sneezing is a symptom of a more significant problem, such as the flu or asthma.

A pregnant woman should also seek immediate medical attention if she has any of the following symptoms or concerns along with sneezing:

  • a fever of 102°F or higher
  • trouble breathing
  • chest pain
  • coughing up yellow or green mucus
  • blowing colored mucus from the nose
  • wheezing
  • loss of appetite
  • inability to sleep
  • a severe headache

Q&A

There are a lot of misconceptions about sneezing during pregnancy. We answer some of the common questions about pregnancy and sneezing below:

Does sneezing affect the baby?

Sneezing during pregnancy will typically not harm the baby.

The baby is well-protected in the uterus, and even a hard sneeze will not affect the baby.

The only time that sneezing may be problematic for the baby is if the sneezing is the symptom of an underlying illness or problem. In these instances, it is the underlying illness that may affect the baby, not the sneezing itself.

Does sneezing while pregnant influence the baby’s sex?

Despite lots of stories, tales, and myths highlighting ways to influence the sex of the baby, sneezing cannot determine or change the sex of the baby.

A baby’s sex is determined at conception by a chromosome from the male’s sperm.

If the man’s sperm has an X chromosome, the baby will be a female; if it has a Y chromosome, the baby will be a male.

Can a pregnant woman sneeze out her baby?

No. A baby will not be born because a pregnant woman sneezes.

While some people may joke about fast childbirth, even those who deliver their babies quickly still go through the labor process. During labor, contractions help guide the baby out of the uterus through the open cervix.

People will still have to push and go through labor or cesarean delivery for a baby to be born.

Takeaway

Sneezing during pregnancy is a frequent occurrence for many.

Most of the time sneezing during pregnancy is harmless. However, if the sneezing is accompanied by other symptoms that might indicate a more significant problem, then it is essential to visit a doctor as soon as possible.