What Causes Hemorrhoids during Pregnancy?
The joys of pregnancy are usually accompanied by a number of uncomfortable temporary conditions that disappear soon after childbirth. One of these conditions you may experience is pregnancy hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. Some women get hemorrhoids for the first time while they are pregnant. If you have had them before pregnancy, you are quite likely to have them again during pregnancy.
Hemorrhoids may also develop while you are in the second stage of labour and actively pushing and are also a common early postpartum complaint. In most cases, hemorrhoids that developed during pregnancy will begin to resolve soon after you give birth, especially if you are careful to avoid constipation.
Pregnancy makes you more prone to hemorrhoids Your growing uterus puts pressure on the pelvic veins and the inferior vena cava, a large vein on the right side of the body that receives blood from the lower limbs. This can slow the return of blood from the lower half of your body, which increases the pressure on the veins below your uterus and causes them to become more dilated or swollen.
Constipation, another common problem during pregnancy, can also cause or aggravate hemorrhoids due to excessive straining.
In addition, an increase in the hormone progesterone during pregnancy causes the walls of your veins to relax, allowing them to swell more easily. Progesterone also contributes to constipation by slowing down your intestinal tract.
You are more susceptible to hemorrhoids when pregnant, but they are not inevitable. There are ways to prevent them or get rid of them:
- Avoid constipation by eating a high-fibre diet of plenty of whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables, drink plenty of water (eight to ten glasses a day), and get regular exercise.
- Try not to strain when you are moving your bowels as the strain puts pressure on the veins
- Avoid sitting or standing for long stretches of time. At home, lie on your left side when sleeping, reading, or watching TV to take the pressure off your rectal veins and help increase blood return from the lower half of your body.
If you have haemorrhoids, there are ways you can get some relief:
- Apply an ice pack (with a soft covering) to the affected area several times a day. Ice may help decrease swelling and discomfort. Some women find cold compresses saturated with witch hazel to be soothing.
- Soak your bottom in warm water in a tub for 10 to 15 minutes a few times each day. Try alternating cold and warm treatments.
- Gently but thoroughly clean the affected area after each bowel movement using soft tissues.
- Moistening the tissue can help, too. Many women find using pre-moistened wipes more comfortable than using toilet tissue. You can buy wipes medicated with witch hazel that are made specifically for people with hemorrhoids.
- Ask your healthcare practitioner to recommend a safe topical aesthetic or medicated suppository.