For a number of reasons, hemorrhoids during pregnancy as well as following childbirth are quite common. Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the rectal area that may protrude outside of the anus or may remain inside and which may cause discomforts ranging from itching to being very painful.
Who gets hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
Women who have never had hemorrhoids could develop this painful and irritating condition for the first time in pregnancy. This is because of the increased volume of blood in the body that is required to nourish the baby and mother’s enlarged blood vessels. This can cause problems such as varicose veins as well as hemorrhoids.
Then there is the fact that the enlarged and engorged uterus puts pressure on the pelvic region, and loosens the muscles there adding to the problem. This is why hemorrhoids are most common during the last trimester of pregnancy.
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are also known to have a genetic element because some women appear to be predisposed to the condition if it runs in the family. Chronic constipation is another factor that predisposes a person to hemorrhoids.
Though hemorrhoids of pregnancy most typically resolve soon after childbirth, sometimes hemorrhoids appear after the delivery if constipation is very severe and particularly if the labor and childbirth have been particularly difficult and traumatic.
Symptoms of pregnancy hemorrhoids
Pain and/or itching in the anal area are common symptoms. In the case of external hemorrhoids the veins may protrude through the anus as swollen looking skin or tissue that is blue or red in color. Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the anus and may itch and bleed but are not usually painful. Women may find that there is bleeding accompanying a bowel movement or that some amount of blood is seen on the toilet paper.
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are generally graded as per the severity of their symptoms; from the first degree where there is no protrusion from the anus but there is some bleeding, through the fourth degree when they protrude, have blood clots and cannot be inserted into place.
Tips to avoid hemorrhoids in pregnancy
Avoiding constipation is the key to preventing hemorrhoids. For this have a diet rich in fiber, drink plenty of water and lead an active lifestyle.
Also go as soon as there is the urge for a bowel movement. The longer you delay the worse it gets. Also don’t linger on the toilet too long and avoid straining when passing the stool because all of this increases chances of hemorrhoids during pregnancy.
Don’t sit or stand for long periods of time. Keep moving around frequently to reduce pressure on the rectum and to improve blood circulation.
If you do get hemorrhoids you can
Apply an icepack alternating with treatment using warm water to reduce swelling and bring relief. Use unscented, soft paper for wiping rather than colored or scented varieties that will cause more irritation.
Cotton pads soaked in witch-hazel are a known remedy for hemorrhoids, but before you try any other remedy or medication for hemorrhoids during pregnancy be sure to consult with your health care provider.