Haemorrhoids during pregnancy have become a pervasive problem. Is there anything you can do to ease the pain they bring?
As you’re excitedly counting the days to your baby’s arrival, you’ve probably noticed all your body’s changes. Some are pleasant, like that beautiful pregnancy glow most people talk about — but some are unexpected and even painful, such as haemorrhoids, otherwise known as piles.
It is quite a common problem here, with one in three people suffering from piles, and Singapore has even been touted as the “piles capital of the world”!
Pregnant woman having pelvic pains
Haemorrhoids often occur after the age of 30, with over half of those aged 50 and up displaying symptoms, but pregnant women and new mums are also particularly susceptible to it.
So what exactly causes haemorrhoids, and what can you do to avoid this painful problem during and after your pregnancy?
Haemorrhoids During Pregnancy
Haemorrhoids are enlargement of the veins in the rectum. They are very common, especially during pregnancy.
Haemorrhoids can cause pain, itching and bleeding. They may also cause discomfort during bowel movements or while sitting.
Pregnancy increases the pressure on your veins, so it is normal to have haemorrhoids during your pregnancy. Haemorrhoids develop when there is too much pressure in the veins in your lower rectum, which causes them to swell up and bulge out of their normal position.
It is a swelling, blistering etc., of veins surrounding the anus. Haemorrhoids affect women more than men, usually around 30 to 45 years. This health issue may continue through pregnancy till delivering the baby.
Are Haemorrhoids During Pregnancy Common
Yes, haemorrhoids during pregnancy are common. It’s estimated that up to 50 per cent of pregnant women experience some haemorrhoid symptoms. This is because pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on the pelvic veins, increasing the likelihood of developing haemorrhoids.
As your body changes and grows during pregnancy, it can cause these veins to swell more than they normally would.
Types of Haemorrhoids
Haemorrhoids can be an internal or external problem that develops in or around the anus.
Internal haemorrhoids are when the veins in your anus become engorged with blood and swell. This can cause pain and bleeding and can be painful to defecate.
Internal haemorrhoids can be caused by straining while you poop, which is why they often occur after having a baby or surgery. If you’re pregnant, you might also notice them after having sex.
In addition to being uncomfortable, internal haemorrhoids can lead to other problems like anal fissures or bleeding. If you notice any blood in your stool or have severe pain that won’t go away with over-the-counter medication, it’s best to see a doctor immediately.
External haemorrhoids during pregnancy commonly affect up to 50 per cent of pregnant women. While they may be uncomfortable, they do not pose any risk to the mother or baby.
External haemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels that form outside the anus. They often result from straining during bowel movements but can also be caused by hormonal changes and muscle tension. In pregnancy, these swollen tissues can become irritated by the pressure of the baby’s head on the cervix, causing pain, itching and bleeding.
The most common symptom of external haemorrhoids is bleeding from the rectum after a bowel movement. This happens when the vein becomes irritated and ruptures under pressure from sitting or straining during a bowel movement. Bleeding can vary from a small amount to heavy bleeding, which may stain your underwear or stool with blood.
Itching around your anus is another common symptom of external haemorrhoids during pregnancy because it can cause irritation that makes you want to scratch around this area more than usual.
Some women may experience severe discomfort when sitting down or standing up after going to the bathroom because their enlarged veins rub against their vaginal wall as they move around in their chair or bed while sleeping at night hours; this causes pain and discomfort until treatment is applied.
Image Source: iStock
What Causes Haemorrhoids During Pregnancy
Haemorrhoids can be a painful and uncomfortable problem common in pregnant women due to the extra pressure on your anal region from the weight of your growing baby.
Other causes may include:
- Straining too hard during bowel movements
- Sitting for too long on the toilet
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Being overweight or obese
- Anal intercourse
- Lack of fibre in your diet
- Not drinking enough water
- Lack of exercise
- The iron in your prenatal vitamins may cause constipation which could lead to piles
- Irregular bowel movements
Symptoms of Haemorrhoids During Pregnancy
Watch out for the following signs:
- Bright red blood in your stool or on your toilet paper when you wipe
- Any swelling in your anal region
- Itchiness or irritation around your anus
- Feelings of pain or discomfort
- A sensitive or painful lump near the anus
- Anal fissures and skin tags
Fastest Way to Get Rid of Haemorrhoids During Pregnancy
The fastest way to get rid of haemorrhoids during pregnancy is to try home remedies such as vitamin C tablets or warm baths with Epsom salts.
You can also try eating more fruits and vegetables that are high in fibre, such as apples and carrots.
If you’re struggling with constipation during pregnancy, adding a daily probiotic supplement can help keep things moving (but don’t take them too late in the evening, or you might have trouble sleeping).
If these methods don’t work for you or your symptoms are severe enough to warrant medical attention, talk to your doctor about the treatment options available.
How to Reduce Swelling of Haemorrhoids During Pregnancy
Swelling of the haemorrhoids is one of the most common complications during pregnancy. Pregnant women often suffer from the disease because their body is in a constant state of change.
During this time, it is important to know how to reduce the swelling of haemorrhoids and what you can do to prevent them.
How do you reduce the swelling of haemorrhoids during pregnancy?
Here are some useful tips:
- Eat more fibre-containing foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This helps with normal bowel movements and makes your stool soft enough to pass easily through your rectum without causing any damage to it.
- You should also increase your fluid intake since this may help dilute toxins accumulated in your body due to certain changes occurring during pregnancy. You should drink at least two litres of water per day (preferably filtered or distilled).
- If possible, try not to strain when passing stool or urinating; instead, try squatting on a toilet seat or even using a bidet if possible (it will help relax muscles around your pelvic area). This will allow for easier passage of stool through your rectum without putting pressure on it, which could cause pain or discomfort later on.
How to Prevent Haemorrhoids During Pregnancy
Although any serious complications arising from having haemorrhoids are rare, this painful problem is something which can be prevented.
Take part in some light to moderate exercise during your pregnancy to avoid getting piles
Drink plenty of water and other fluids (juice, milk, etc.) and ensure you’re getting enough fibre in your diet, including lots of whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Light to moderate exercise is recommended for pregnant mums and can help ease or prevent haemorrhoids.
A sedentary lifestyle and sitting on hard chairs/ surfaces for too long can also lead to this common problem.
Avoid straining or pushing too hard when you’re having a bowel movement, as this could cause painful haemorrhoids.
Don’t read a book or play games on your phone while sitting on the toilet, either — save that for when you’re seated comfortably on your sofa or in bed.
When you feel the urge to go to the toilet, try not to hold it in for too long, as this could cause constipation.
How to Treat Haemorrhoids During Pregnancy
If you have haemorrhoids, here are some treatment methods for you to consider:
Stool softeners and fibre supplements
These will help ease your bowel movements to avoid straining or sitting on the toilet for prolonged periods.
Your doctor might also prescribe some special cream or ointment to be applied to the affected area or recommend a sitz bath.
However, this will only offer temporary relief and may not be effective depending on the severity of your problem.
Doctors can advise you on the best treatment for your piles problem
If your haemorrhoids require more treatment, you might have to consider rubber band ligation.
This is when elastic rings are surgically applied above the haemorrhoids to cut off the blood supply, which will cause it to drop off, and if needed, the haemorrhoids might even have to be surgically removed.
Such surgical treatments may require multiple procedures to treat your haemorrhoid problem.
Hemorrhoid Energy Therapy (HET™) Bipolar System
For those not keen on surgery, you may want to consider the latest non-surgical treatment by the PanAsia Surgery Group.
This quick, gentle and efficient treatment uses low-power energy to treat the haemorrhoids without causing collateral tissue damage.
100% of patients surveyed who have experienced this treatment for internal haemorrhoids reported that they felt no pain or discomfort at all.
The HET™ Bipolar System will be inserted into your rectum, and low-power energy is then delivered to the blood supply that feeds enlarged haemorrhoids — this will help reduce the blood volume and the size of the haemorrhoid.
The best part is that the whole procedure only takes a few seconds to complete in a single therapy session!
If you think you have haemorrhoids or are suffering from haemorrhoids, remember to bring this up with your doctor at your next check-up so you can get properly treated.
Did you suffer from haemorrhoids during or after your pregnancy? What did you do to help ease the discomfort and pain? Share your tips with other mums by leaving a comment below!
Updates by Pheona Ilagan
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