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Weird Side Effects of Increased Blood Volume in Pregnancy

pregnant person sits in an office chair pinching the bridge of her nose with her eyes closed and head down

While increased blood volume during pregnancy is a normal and necessary adaptation to support your growing baby and meet the demands of your body, it can lead to certain side effects. Most of these side effects are considered normal parts of the pregnancy process, but some individuals may experience them more intensely than others. It's important to note that individual responses can vary, and not all pregnant individuals will experience the same side effects.

Here are some common side effects associated with increased blood volume in pregnancy.

Hormonal Changes

Hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen, play a crucial role in pregnancy and contribute to the expansion of blood volume. These hormones promote the relaxation of blood vessels, leading to increased blood flow.

Edema (Swelling)

The increased blood volume can sometimes lead to fluid retention, causing swelling in the hands, feet, and ankles. This is generally a normal part of pregnancy but can be more pronounced in some individuals.

Varicose Veins

The increased pressure on the blood vessels, combined with hormonal changes, can contribute to the development of varicose veins, especially in the legs.


Increased blood volume and pressure on blood vessels can also lead to the development or exacerbation of hemorrhoids, which are swollen blood vessels in the rectal area. Fun times!

Sweat Fest & Heat Wave

With nearly 45% more blood volume in pregnancy, it's natural for you to experience hot flashes or to just feel hot most of the time. You may also experience more sweating that normal. Dress in layers in winter, stay well hydrated no matter the season, and if you are pregnant through summer, well bless you!

Increased Heart Rate

The heart has to work harder to pump the increased volume of blood, naturally leading to a higher resting heart rate. This is a normal adaptation to the increased cardiac output needed during pregnancy.

Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)

While blood pressure typically increases during pregnancy, some women may experience a drop in blood pressure, especially in the first and second trimesters. This can result in dizziness or lightheadedness. If you feel like you're going to pass out, sit down where you are!

Blood Pressure Changes

Blood pressure may decrease slightly during the first and second trimesters but tends to return to normal or even increase slightly in the third trimester. The changes are generally within a normal range, but variations can occur from person to person.

Shortness of Breath

The growing uterus can put pressure on the diaphragm, and the increased blood volume may lead to shortness of breath, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. Eating smaller meals more frequently can help some.


Some women may experience palpitations or a sensation of rapid or irregular heartbeats. This is often a normal response to the increased blood volume and cardiac output. However, if you experience anything that's out of the normal you should report this to your healthcare provider.

Congestion and Nosebleeds

Increased blood flow can cause swelling of the mucous membranes in the nose, leading to congestion and occasional nosebleeds. Nosebleeds, while annoying don't cause any lasting problems and things will return to normal after you give birth.

It's important to discuss any concerns or unusual symptoms with a healthcare provider. While these side effects are generally normal, they can sometimes be indicative of underlying issues, and healthcare providers can provide guidance and monitoring to ensure a healthy pregnancy. If any symptoms are severe or persistent, medical attention should be sought promptly. Regular prenatal check-ups are essential for monitoring both maternal and fetal health throughout the pregnancy.

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Authored by Elizabeth Luke

Elizabeth is the founder and CEO of The Jacksonville Baby Company. Elizabeth and her husband and best friend, Richard are parents to four children. With certifications in Postpartum and Infant Care Support, Childbirth and Newborn Care Education, Lactation Support, and Infant Sleep, she is a wealth of knowledge and has a heart that is passionate about helping parents live their best lives while also ensuring their children are safe, happy, and leading their healthiest lives possible! Consultations are one of the best ways to prepare, contact us today to books!

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