Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are often a cause of concern for women. You’re sitting on the toilet and notice a painful swelling in your rectum, ranging from pea-sized to almost the size of a grape. It itches dreadfully, it hurts to wipe, and sitting is downright painful. Sometimes, you will notice blood on the tissue when you wipe; other times, you will simply notice the painful bump. Like countless women before you, you have developed pregnancy hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins or groups of veins in the area of the anus. While this condition may range from mildly irritating to extremely painful, it is important to note that it will not harm your baby. Instead, it can make using the bathroom uncomfortable and sitting excruciating.
There are multiple reasons why women are more prone to hemorrhoids during pregnancy—from the increased pressure in the veins due to your growing baby to the ever-present constipation that often bothers women during the later stages of pregnancy. Progesterone and other hormonal fluctuations in your body also can also be a cause. Women who have experienced hemorrhoids in the past are particularly more inclined to develop them when pregnant.
Preventing Hemorrhoids during pregnancy
Thankfully, there are ways to help prevent the development of hemorrhoids during pregnancy. Remember to never strain on the toilet or delay your bathroom breaks. Increasing your fiber intake through fruits and vegetables as well as your daily fluids will help prevent constipation. Sleeping on your side is also another easy way to prevent hemorrhoids—it relieves the pressure on your rectal tissues. Moving during the day is also important. If you have a desk job where you tend to sit for long hours, stand up, stretch and take a few minutes away from your desk. If you have a job that requires a lot of standing, ensure you find time to sit down and relax, which will also help. Kegel exercises are also noted to improve muscle tone in the rectal area and can help prevent hemorrhoid development.
If you do end up with hemorrhoids, there are multiple treatment options available for you. At home, you can use witch hazel pads to delicately pat the surface of the hemorrhoid; this will relieve the pain and help the swelling go down. Sitz baths are also safe and effective. You can purchase sitz baths, which fit into your toilet, from Amazon.com or at your local pharmacy, and a simple 10-15 minute soak daily will help shrink your hemorrhoids. It’s important to remember after a bowel movement, instead of wiping the area of the hemorrhoid, you should gently pat it clean to ensure you don’t further irritate the tissue.
Sometimes at-home treatments don’t work; you should never be embarrassed to approach your physician about this situation. Your doctor may prescribe an ointment or cream to apply to the area. In worse cases, minor surgery can be performed on hemorrhoids that are too large or are bleeding excessively. Typically, however, this condition can be successfully managed through proper diet, exercise and medication.
Hemorrhoids are an embarrassing reality during pregnancy. On top of constant bladder urges during the last trimester, heartburn, and constipation, hemorrhoids are another common development that pregnant women should not be ashamed of. This painful problem is preventable and treatable, and thankfully, it tends to disappear shortly after giving birth.