Are Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy Normal? How to Treat Them?

When I was about 6-months pregnant, I thought I was dying because I was bleeding from my rump. I was about to receive an education, as I lay in the OB emergency room, about hemorrhoids during pregnancy.

Before this moment, I thought hemorrhoids were something old men got because they were cranky. I was 26 and didn’t know a thing about these nasty buggers.

But, the giggling ER staff, (yes everyone thought my idea about old cranky men and hemorrhoids was hysterical), was about to give me a crash course.

What ARE Hemorrhoids?

If you’re squarely in the cranky old man school of thought group on what hemorrhoids are, let me educate you. Hemorrhoids are blood vessels that occur in the rectum.

They become swollen, irritated and cranky. The swelling can range from the size of a raisin to the size of a prune.

As if that isn’t bad enough, these bad boys don’t always like to stay inside the rectum and often protrude through the anus. They are itchy, uncomfortable, they make sitting unbearable, and in rare cases, they can make you bleed from your rump.

Enter me into the ER; thinking for sure I was dying.

Somehow the baby had made its way to the wrong cavity, and I was about to be on the “Miracle Births” TV show for being the only woman to deliver a baby out of her rear.

Again, this may be why the ER staff was laughing, but I certainly was not.

Why Are Hemorrhoids Frequent During Pregnancy?

The main cause of hemorrhoids during pregnancy is the increased size of the uterus. The pressure on the intestine and the rectal veins is a common cause of constipation in pregnant women, which then leads to hemorrhoids.

But that is only one of the predisposing factors.

Hemorrhoids-after-pregnancy
Extreme pushing (or straining on the toilet) is a common cause of hemorrhoids during pregnancy

Other causes are the hormonal changes at the beginning of the pregnancy (increased estrogen/progesterone levels), which facilitate the dilation of the hemorrhoids.

As the months go by, the increased size of the uterus and the tendency to reduce physical activity aggravate the risks of developing hemorrhoids. In fact, the increase in blood volume and abdominal pressure can severely affect the stress on the rectal veins, which become prone to swelling.

Hemorrhoids are not only frequent during pregnancy (it is estimated that 30% of pregnant women are affected), but can also occur after delivery, as a result of pushing during labour.

Either way, here are a few tips for you.

How to Treat Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy?

So, now I knew what was causing this horribly distressing issue. I was thoroughly embarrassed for even thinking that the baby had made its way into my colon. But now I had a whole 3-months to go with rectal bleeding and horribly sore bum.

What was I going to do?

Physical Activity

Regular physical activity stimulates bowel movements and reduces the risk of constipation, varicose veins and swellings.

The tendency is to reduce physical activity during pregnancy, for obvious reasons, but it’s never a good idea, especially to prevent and relieve hemorrhoids.

Eat More Vegetables

This didn’t seem like sound advice to me. I was at the ER because I was bleeding from my rectum and the nurse is telling me to get more fiber.

I didn’t know it at the time but straining when having a bowel movement causes hemorrhoids. Eating high fiber foods should ease the flow of a bowel movement and allow you to pass stool without the excess pressure on your rectal muscles.

It’s not only a fix for hemorrhoids during pregnancy, but for hemorrhoids in general, and any type of constipation.

Go To The Bathroom More

It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. I was pregnant, and it seemed like I was already living in the bathroom with how much I was peeing.

However, holding a bowel movement can cause it to be harder to pass. Also, straining can aggravate the vessels and cause hemorrhoids to worsen.

You already know all this if you have read our article on how to relieve constipation.

Hot And Cold

Great therapy for hemorrhoids while pregnant is to apply alternating hot and cold compresses to the area. I found that when I soaked a cold compress in witch hazel, it soothed the hemorrhoids like nothing else.

I would also soak in a warm water tub. If that’s not an option try a sitz bath (trust me it will be your best friend after you deliver so get one anyway).

Keep It Clean

The worst part about having hemorrhoids while pregnant was having to deal with the hygiene aspect. I had the worst kind, so they had protruded and were prone to bleeding.

How was I supposed to keep it clean down there when I could hardly touch it?

I used baby wipes. The medicated baby wipes in the little wipe warmer that my son had gotten in his baby shower.

They were now mine, and they were soothing a very sore bum. The best thing ever was warm baby wipes.

Sleep on Your Side

Don’t sleep on your back (you shouldn’t be doing this after the first trimester anyway). Sleeping on the side helps relieve the pressure on the affected area, which is important especially while pregnant.

To relieve the pressure, I also suggest buying one of those donut cushions and use it when you are home, or even when you drive.

Ask Your Doctor for Hemorrhoid Treatment

During pregnancy everything needs lot of caution, especially when it comes to medications.

Normally, corticosteroids are a anti-inflammatory medicine prescribed for a series of conditions, including hemorrhoids.

BUT…corticosteroids are prohibited during pregnancy. A doctor will know, and will tell you.

You may think, “They need prescription, so the doctor won’t prescribe them anyway“. True, but I want to make sure you know, just in case you had left overs.

Instead, you can use over-the-counter medications like Preparation-H, which can do miracles by reducing the itch and the swelling.

Will Hemorrhoids Go Away After Pregnancy?

Well if you’re like me and have a 3rd-degree tear when you deliver, your hemorrhoids will seem like a pleasant vacation. If you have a normal delivery, your hemorrhoids should start to clear up after you deliver and everything starts to heal down there.

If they are still here at your 6-week postpartum check up,  you may need further medical attention. Talk with your doctor, in rare cases, hemorrhoids after pregnancy may require surgery to fix.

 

As always the internet isn’t a replacement for your doctor’s advice. If you think your baby is coming out of your bum because of the severity of your hemorrhoids during pregnancy, call your doctor.

But, keep the part about making it into the Guinness Book of World Records for first rectal delivery to yourself, trust me on that point.

 

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