Hemorrhoids are an unfortunate, yet fairly common circumstance that sometimes occurs in women during pregnancy. They are caused by varicose, which are swollen veins of the rectum that can be itchy, uncomfortable, and very painful. Often, hemorrhoids range from the size of a pea to the size of a grape, and they can be found inside the rectal area or protrude through the anus. They are typically common during the third trimester of pregnancy, being more likely to occur in women who have already experienced them in a prior pregnancy. Signs of possibly having hemorrhoids include pain or irritation in the rectal area or the presence of a strange lump in that area, as well as possible bleeding and pain during bowel movements. While the symptoms of hemorrhoids are certainly unpleasant, they pose no harm and are common during pregnancies, usually resolving after the birth.
Hemorrhoids are especially common during pregnancies because of the pressure from the enlarging uterus and increased blood flow to the pelvic area and veins, causing the veins in the rectal area to swell and become irritated. Constipation can also aggravate or cause these pregnancy hemorrhoids because the additional strain of your bowel puts pressure on the veins in the rectum which causes them to swell. Since constipation is often common during pregnancy, women who are pregnant are at an additional risk of forming hemorrhoids.
Progesterone, a hormone that increases during pregnancy, can also cause the walls of the veins to relax and swell more easily, which contributes to constipation and the development of hemorrhoids. In addition, the strain of childbirth can also cause hemorrhoids post-partum. They can develop while the woman is pushing during the second stage of labor.
Women are more prone to developing hemorrhoids during pregnancy, but they can be avoided and treated in a number of ways.
1. Avoid constipation
Since constipation is one of the primary causes of hemorrhoids, avoiding constipation will help lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids in the first place. Change your diet so that you’re eating mostly high-fiber foods such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Also, drink plenty of water and participate in regular exercise. You can even ask your doctor about fiber supplements to ensure that you’re getting the necessary intake.
2. Kegel exercises
Doing Kegel exercises daily can help increase circulation in the rectal area and strengthen the muscles surrounding the anus. They can also strengthen and tone the muscles of the vagina and urethra, all of which can help decrease your chance of hemorrhoids.
3. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time
Sitting and standing for a lengthy amount of time puts pressure on the rectal veins and keeps the blood from returning to the lower half of your body. Try to move around for a few minutes if you have to sit for a long period of time, and try to lie on your side to take the pressure off of that area.
For some immediate relief, you can ask your doctor to recommend a hemorrhoid over-the-counter remedy cream or a wipe that can help relieve some of the unpleasant symptoms. These remedies won’t cure the actual hemorrhoid, but they will provide a temporary relief from the pain caused by hemorrhoids.
2. Soak in warm water
Soak your bottom in a tub of warm water a few times each day to stay clean and help ease the discomfort resulting from the hemorrhoids.
3. Use an ice pack
Repeatedly apply an ice pack to the irritated area throughout the day to help decrease the swelling and ease the pain. Cold compresses using witch hazel can also soothe the affected area around the anus.
4. Stay clean
When you have hemorrhoids, it’s important to keep the area clean in order to prevent further irritation. Gently and thoroughly clean the affected area, especially after each bowel movement, and use unscented and soft toilet tissue that causes less irritation than the scented tissues. You can also use pre-moistened wipes as a more comfortable alternative if the regular toilet tissue irritates the affected area, as well as wipes medicated with witch hazel.