What are haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids are enlarged and swollen veins in the lower rectum and anus. Haemorrhoids can range from slightly uncomfortable to very painful. They might itch, and can bleed during bowel movements.
Haemorrhoids during pregnancy
Haemorrhoids affect between 20 and 50 percent of all pregnant women. Most women who suffer from haemorrhoids, will develop them during the third trimester. Haemorrhoids are a common postpartum complaint, due to pushing during the second stage of labour.
Pregnant women are more likely to suffer from haemorrhoids for a number of reasons. Increased blood flow to the pelvic area can cause the rectal wall veins to swell and bulge. The enlarged uterus puts pressure on the rectal veins. Pregnancy hormones cause veins and arteries to relax to allow for the increased blood flow. The pregnancy hormone progesterone slows down the intestinal tract which can cause constipation. This all makes pregnant women more susceptible to haemorrhoids.
How to prevent hemorrhoids
There are a number of steps you can take to try and prevent hemorrhoids:
- Eat plenty of fibre – maintaining regular bowel movements is the best way to prevent haemorrhoids. By eating a high fibre diet, you can prevent constipation. Bran cereals, dried fruits, and pears are all high fibre foods. Switching to brown rice, brown pasta and wholemeal bread can also help to increase your fibre intake.
- Stay hydrated – dehydration can cause constipation. You should increase your fluid intake during pregnancy, so make sure you are drinking at least eight glasses of fluid a day.
- Pelvic floor exercises – these can improve circulation to the pelvic area, and can in turn reduce the risk of constipation and haemorrhoids.
- Sleep on your side during pregnancy to prevent pressure on the rectal veins.
- Don’t strain on the toilet. Straining can cause haemorrhoids.
Treatments for hemorrhoids
As well as following the advice above, you could try the following to ease haemorrhoids:
- Apply a cold compress or ice pack a few times a day.
- Soak your bottom in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes after each bowel movement. This will relieve discomfort and can be used as necessary.
- After bowel movements, use wet wipes or moist toilet paper, to clean your bottom.
- Ask your healthcare provider if they can advise any medicines that are safe to use during pregnancy.
If your haemorrhoid symptoms are persistent and severe, or if you are experiencing rectal bleeding, you should contact your healthcare provider.
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.