Hemorrhoids & Pregnancy 101: A Guide to Dealing with Hemorrhoids When Pregnant
Posted on 11 December 2017
Hemorrhoids & Pregnancy 101: A Guide to Dealing with Hemorrhoids When Pregnant
What exactly are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, also called piles are quite common in most adults today with research stating that nearly 3 out of 4 adults suffer from the condition from time to time.
The condition is also very popular in pregnant mothers and will usually become profound in the third trimester of the pregnancy.
Hemorrhoids, which may result from straining during bowel movements and a number of other risk factors, will usually manifest with varicose and swollen veins in the lower rectum and anal area.
They often cause itching, pain and discomfort and/or bleeding.
In some cases, a clot may be formed in a hemorrhoid.
These clots can be extremely painful and may need to be incised and drained in order to treat the condition and bring comfort to the patient.
Pregnancy is one of the risk factors associated with hemorrhoids due to the increased pressure in these anal and rectal muscles in the period of conception, they are also associated with constipation and bowel movements.
As the volume of blood in these areas, the uterus begins to press against the pelvis.
This causes the veins in the anus to enlarge into clusters, and due to the sensitivity of pregnancies, these hemorrhoids have to be handled in a sensitive and professional manner.
Fortunately, a number of lifestyle changes and treatment options will help many mothers deal with the condition and symptoms effectively.
A postpartum home care program "revealed a significant difference between the two groups in terms of the use of supplements, birth control methods, postpartum depression, breastfeeding problems, constipation, and fatigue" (1).
Hemorrhoids and Pregnancy
Hemorrhoids are the cause of much discomfort in most patients who deal with the condition.
With hemorrhoids often comes pain, itching, discomfort, and even bleeding.
And as if the discomfort of your growing belly isn’t enough, many women have to deal with these symptoms as a result of their pregnancy.
Hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy for several reasons:
- Increase in pressure. During pregnancy, the uterus grows as the baby develops. As the uterus grows, it puts an increase of pressure on the pelvic veins. The vena cava, in particular, is greatly affected. This vein is located on the right side of the body and it receives blood from the lower limbs. As the pressure increases, the veins below the uterus can experience a slowing of the blood flow. This causes the veins to dilate and swell.
- Constipation. As you may know, constipation is one of the leading causes of hemorrhoids. And, during pregnancy, women are at an increased risk of constipation. This can cause hemorrhoids because of the strain that often exists during bowel movements (2).
- Increase of hormones. Progesterone is a hormone that increases as you go through your pregnancy. Unfortunately, progesterone can contribute to constipation and cause the walls of your veins to swell more easily.
How do I know if I have Hemorrhoids when I’m pregnant?
There are a number of signs and symptoms that may point to Hemorrhoids during pregnancy.
Some of these are dependent on the location of the hemorrhoids, but generally include:
- Itching or Irritation in the rectal or anal region
- Presence of blood in small amounts during bowel movement
- Swelling around the anus
- Painful or stinging sensations or discomfort around the anus
- Lump, which may be painful or thrombosed, near the anus. These are referred to as thrombosed hemorrhoids.
In the cases of internal hemorrhoids which occur inside the rectum, hemorrhoids are usually not visible and may not be felt as they rarely cause discomfort.
These hemorrhoids may only be noticed or felt when straining to pass a stool as the hemorrhoid surface becomes damaged and may bleed.
Our how to get rid of internal hemorrhoids guide can help you get the relief you need.
Sometimes, straining may push these internal hemorrhages put through the anus, thereby resulting in a condition referred to as prolapsed or protruding hemorrhoids, and can be accompanied with pain or irritations.
External hemorrhoids will usually manifest under the skin surrounding the anus and may itch or bleed when irritated.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids as earlier mentioned forms as a result of blood pooling in an external hemorrhoid, thereby clotting and resulting in severe pain, inflammation and swelling around the rectal and anal areas.
Are Hemorrhoids dangerous while pregnant?
Hemorrhoids pose no immediate danger to both fetus and mother during pregnancy.
Asides the accompanying pain, irritation and discomfort that is experienced by mothers in the period of their conception to birth, hemorrhoids have not been shown to cause complications during childbirth or significant complications to the health of the babies.
Occasionally, a hemorrhoid bursts and bleeds. They typically only bleed for about 10 seconds. If that lasts longer, you should likely see a physician.
Hemorrhoids Early Pregnancy Tips
If you experience hemorrhoids during early pregnancy, they will likely continue to progress as you move through each trimester.
By the third trimester, they may be very difficult to ignore. As the weight of the uterus and the baby grow, the increase in pressure will cause your hemorrhoids to get worse.
The best way to handle hemorrhoids in early pregnancy is to use at-home hemorrhoid treatments to try to resolve the pregnancy hemorrhoids.
There are many OTC hemorrhoid medicines you can use to get relief.
Women who can resolve their hemorrhoids in early pregnancy should follow measures to prevent their recurrence.
You can take the following steps to prevent swelling in your veins.
- Take measures to avoid becoming constipated. Keeping your stool soft and having regular bowel movements is important during pregnancy. Staying hydrated is helpful for hemorrhoid prevention, and it is good for you and your baby. Get plenty of fiber and talk to your doctor about the use of stool softeners if you are struggling with constipation. (3)
- Talk to your doctor about healthy pregnancy weight gain and try to stack on track. The more weight you gain, the more pressure there will be on your rectum. Work to avoid gaining more than the recommended weight.
Four to eight weeks after you give birth, your symptoms should subside.
As your hormone levels even out, you should notice your discomfort begin to resolve.
If you continue to experience symptoms, talk to your doctor about more aggressive treatment methods.
Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy can be either internal or external.
While some women are just naturally predisposed to hemorrhoids because of their genetics, pregnancy hemorrhoids are common.
The weight of the baby and the uterus on the rectum causes most hemorrhoids to be pushed out.
This leads to external hemorrhoids or prolapsed internal hemorrhoids. As the pregnancy progresses, the hemorrhoids tend to get worse.
During pregnancy, there are a few symptoms you can watch for that indicate you may be dealing with hemorrhoids. Two of the most common symptoms are pain in the lower rectum or itching at the opening of the anus.
These symptoms will likely be exaggerated during bowel movements. Other symptoms include:
- Increased pressure in the anal area
- The feeling of a lump or mass
Unfortunately, because hemorrhoids are actually caused by the changes in your body during pregnancy, most symptoms will continue until you give birth.
There are several options, however, that can be used to reduce hemorrhoid pain during pregnancy:
- The use of ice packs to reduce swelling and numb the feelings of discomfort. This provides nearly immediate, but temporary, hemorrhoid relief.
- Sitz baths are a great home remedy for pregnancy hemorrhoids. When you sit in a warm bath for 15 minutes, a few times a day, you can soothe the symptoms of hemorrhoids. This also serves as a great time to relax. Read a book. Clear your mind. After a long day on your feet, carrying around extra weight, this treatment option is two-fold.
- Witch hazel hemorrhoid pads deliver a cooling effect that can also reduce swelling. Following a bowel movement, witch hazel hemorrhoid wipes can be used to clean the anus.
- Baking soda can be applied topically to alleviate itching associated with pregnancy hemorrhoids.
- Over-the-counter medications, such as hemorrhoid creams and ointments, can be used to reduce swelling, sooth hemorrhoidal tissue, and numb the area. During pregnancy, it is important to check with your physician to be sure the medication you are planning to use is safe for you and your baby.
- Hemorrhoid supplements may be a good idea as long as they are okayed by your doctor. HemRid Plus is a quality hemorrhoid supplement you may be interested in.
How can I treat hemorrhoids at home while pregnant?
For Pregnant mother, hemorrhoids should be referred to doctors and clinical specialists, but luckily, even before heading to see your doctor, a number of easy and safe treatments can be done from home to help relief the symptoms of the condition.
Try the following for hemorrhoid relief:
- Place some baking soda (apply topically) on the affected area to help reduce the itchy symptoms
- Take a cold or warm bath, applying some baking soda in the water
- Avoid placing any strain or pressure on the anal region
- Avoid sitting or standing for long
- Use medicated pads, like Preparation H or Tucks Medicates Pads.
- Apply witch hazel to reduce hemorrhoid bleeding or swelling symptoms. There are also specialized witch hazel pads such as Tucks, that are designed to help treat the symptoms of hemorrhoids.
- Use ice packs on affected area to soothe the hemorrhoid pain and control swelling. Hemorrwedge is a great ice pack for hemorrhoids.
- Take a Sitz bath, spending 10-15 minutes with the warm water in the tub. Better Bath Better Body Sitz Bath is an excellent option.
- Applying coconut oil for hemorrhoids is another option you can try.
Tips For Hemorrhoids After Pregnancy
Even if you did not experience hemorrhoids during your pregnancy, postpartum hemorrhoids are common.
After delivery, especially for those who deliver vaginally, many patients develop hemorrhoids.
This is caused from the pushing involved with giving birth.
In addition, many women experience constipation after birth. This can be caused by a lot of the medications provided to patients while they are in the hospital for labor and delivery.
For postpartum hemorrhoids, there are many at-home remedies that can be helpful in alleviating the symptoms. These include:
- Alternating cold ice packs and warm sitz baths. This will reduce swelling, soothe pain and itching, and provide temporary yet natural relief. You may also be able to get some postnatal ice packs to bring home from the hospital.
- Cleanliness is important, especially after you give birth. Ask your doctor for a squirt bottle called a peri-bottle. This can be filled with warm water to clean the area. You can then pat dry to prevent further irritation.
- Make sure all hygiene products you use are unscented and free of dyes.
- Talk to your doctor about going home with over-the-counter treatment options to care for your hemorrhoids.
- Although it may be difficult with a new baby, lie does as much as you can. This will help keep the anal area free of pressure.
- You can use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for temporary relief. Speak with your doctor about the proper dosage. These medications are safe for breastfeeding mothers when used as prescribed.
If you are consistent with your at-home care, you should notice improvement following birth.
If your hemorrhoids continue, or you experience rectal bleeding or irritating pain, talk to your doctor. In some cases, a more aggressive treatment may be necessary. You may consult with a hemorrhoid doctor as well if you have a serious case.
Here is a Video Regarding Hemorrhoids and Pregnancy
What medications and creams can I use for hemorrhoids while pregnant?
A number of over-the-counter medications are available to choose from to help with complications that many arise with hemorrhoids during pregnancy.
Other cases of hemorrhoids that are more severe may require formulations that contain steroids or numbing agents that help top sooth the inflammation.
Pregnant mothers are advised to consult with doctors before embarking on treatment with any medications.
Laxatives and stool softeners such as Maltsupex, Dulcolax and Move It Along! can also be used to ease bowel movements and reduce the stress placed on the anal or rectal areas.
Can I use hemorrhoid suppositories while pregnant?
Although there have not been widespread or significant number of complications experienced with the used of hemorrhoids suppositories during pregnancy, it is strongly advised that these treatments are only administered when necessary.
Some studies suggest that some evidence for malformation and the drugs may also reduce blood flow in the uterine thereby causing fetal hypoxia.
Can I have hemorrhoid surgery while pregnant?
In instances where medical therapies fail to help manage the symptoms and relieve pain, operative interventions may be needed to help treat the problem.
Although many mothers may experience fear for themselves and fetuses, there is no risk for a hemorrhoidectomy and the process is completely safe, brining only the corrective intervention it was intended for and causing no damages to both fetus and mothers.
Make sure you speak with your obstetrician before opting for hemorrhoid surgery when pregnant.
Final thoughts on Hemorrhoids and Pregnancy
Constipation has a direct relationship and is one of the biggest risk factors for developing hemorrhoids.
To prevent this conditions during pregnancy, diet and lifestyle changes should be effected to ensure that there is no constipation and lesser pressure on the rectum.
First, avoid getting constipated by eating foods that are rich in fiber, drink a lot of water and fluids especially prune juices.
Another tip is to ensure that you do not delay going to the toilet to ensure that excess pressure is not placed on your rectum.
Also, try to aim for healthy pregnancy weight gain as being overweight often predisposes mother to having hemorrhoids during pregnancy.