Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are particularly common.
Also known as piles they can be described as clusters
of swollen veins found at the anal opening (external
hemorrhoids) or near the beginning of the anal canal
(internal hemorrhoids). Like all other forms of varicose
veins, hemorrhoids are caused by increased pressure
which sooner or later destroys the valves in the veins.
What makes hemorrhoids during pregnancy more common
compared to other times is partly because of increased
abdominal pressure and partly due to constipation
(a frequent problem during pregnancy).
What actually happens is the blood collects
in the veins
, then the walls get stretched
and when pressure of bowel movement (BM) is applied,
a rupture and bleeding occurs. The slowdown in blood
flow causes a clot to result which increases both
swelling and pain.
• The most notable symptom is bright red blood during
a bowel movement either on the toilet paper or on
the stool or in the toilet bowl.
• Swelling or a soft lump at the anus which can feel
itchy and painful
• Passing of mucus after bowel movement
• Painful bowel movements
During pregnancy constipation exacerbates
and you can end up having piles. Other factors which
worsen hemorrhoids during pregnancy include:
• Excessive straining during BM
• A sedentary lifestyle and no exercise
• Sitting for long periods as this can increase the
pressure in the veins of the anus
• Eating too many sweets
• Diet lacking in fiber foods
• Excessive weight gain
Unfortunately hemorrhoids commonly occur in the final
trimester and can continue to be a problem even after
having your baby. Fortunately hemorrhoid during pregnancy
is a temporary complaint but may return when you become
pregnant again. Self-care measures to help
lessen the impact of hemorrhoids during pregnancy
include the following:
• Avoid straining and avoid hurrying during BM.
• Check with your doctor on a suitable bulk stool
softener. Stick to natural versions such as psyllium
• Try to establish a regular pattern of BM same time
• Lie on your left side for about 20 minutes every
four-six hours. This will lessen the pressure of the
main vein on the lower half of your body
• Rest with your legs and pelvis higher than your
• Take a hot sitz bath for a few minutes 2-3 times
• Clean the anal area gently with soft moist toilet
paper or wipes after each bowel movement
• Apply ice pack or cold compress to the anal area
• For external hemorrhoids apply a cotton ball soaked
in chilled witch hazel to the area
• Avoid standing and sitting for long periods of time.
Instead move around to bring relief
• Practicing kegel exercises can help prevent hemorrhoids
or from worsening it
• Include walking in your regime especially if you
have a sedentary job or lifestyle to keep constipation
• Eat plenty of high fiber foods such as fresh fruits
and vegetables, dry fruits such as prunes, whole grain
cereals and bread.
• Drink plenty of water and liquids to increase roughage.
Give prune juice a try
• Avoid caffeine, refined foods and spicy foods in
The final word
Ointments and creams may not bring much relief to
hemorrhoids contrary to popular belief and instead
can cause allergic reactions in some people. Pregnant
women in particular should consult their doctor before
taking any OTC remedies. In mild cases hemorrhoids
do not require treatment other than taking basic steps
to prevent it from worsening. However if hemorrhoids
persist or recur they may need to be cut, tied or
frozen out. If you have lasting pain or discomfort
and home remedies do not seem to do the trick, check
with your doctor on what may work.