On TikTok, parents are sharing a physical change they didn’t anticipate after conceiving: pregnancy nose.
The pregnancy nose videos are simple: They juxtapose a person’s image before becoming pregnant with images of their swollen noses afterward. On TikTok, the hashtag #PregnancyNose has more than 16 million views.
The side effect is not the first surprising physiological change during pregnancy that TikTokers have shared on the platform. One user — colloquially called “the girl with the list” — even keeps a running tab on the less commonly known side effects, symptoms and physical changes that can happen during pregnancy. Pregnancy nose is the latest to capture the platform’s interest.
However, Dr. Shannon M. Clark, a professor in maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, who also has a TikTok account with roughly half a million followers, said the symptom isn’t uncommon. She herself experienced pregnancy nose.
“There’s typical physiological changes of pregnancy that occur in everyone, the first being basal dilation, where you have dilation of the blood vessels of the body,” Clark said. “I had it when I was pregnant with my twins. That’s why my nose wasn’t only swollen but it was more red.”
In videos posted to TikTok, women expressed shock at the degree to which their noses swelled.
One user, while showing an image of herself before getting pregnant, said she “never had a big nose” prior to her pregnancy. While showing her “after” photo, she asked, “Who is that?”
Another user stated, “Talk about pregnancy nose… I morphed into a whole new person.”
Clark explained that the swelling is due to an increase in hormones during pregnancy, which causes basal dilation. She said additional reasons for the swelling are due to an increase in blood flow to help the growing pregnancy. Parts of the body that have a mucus membrane, like the nose, also experience a noteworthy increase in blood flow.
She also warned that while pregnancy nose is a common, harmless change, if a pregnant person is more than 20 weeks along and notices their face and hands beginning to swell, in addition to symptoms like blurred vision and headaches, they should notify their medical provider.
“Those are all signs of preeclampsia,” she said. “Preeclampsia in pregnancy is a complicated condition and needs to be monitored and diagnosed properly.”
Clark also warned that while it’s not always a negative to share conditions like pregnancy nose on social media, she advised those looking for pregnancy advice to take what they see on social media with some skepticism.
She mentioned that she sees pregnancy misinformation on platforms like TikTok, which can scare those who are expecting for the first time.
“Social media can be very helpful when taken with a grain of salt,” she said.
Kalhan Rosenblatt is a reporter covering youth and internet culture for NBC News, based in New York.