Hemorrhoids and pregnancy: everything you need to know
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are one of those "annoyances" that no one tells you about, despite affecting more than half of pregnant women, especially after the second trimester.
If you have landed on this post, surely you have already realized this, right?
We often hear about pregnancy as an idyllic stage where a woman feels splendid, beautiful and tremendously happy.
But pregnancy is also nausea, vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, swollen feet, exhaustion and… hemorrhoids.
If that feeling of itching, discomfort and pain has settled in your butt and is not letting you live your pregnancy in peace, stay here. We are going to tell you everything that no one wanted to tell you about hemorrhoids during pregnancy.
What are they? Why do hemorrhoids appear during pregnancy? How long do they last? And, what we know you are wanting to find out, how to relieve hemorrhoids during pregnancy to feel better?
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen veins that are located around the anus and take the shape of small lumps. They can be internal (when they remain in the rectum area) or external (when they appear over the edge of the anus).
The most common symptoms of hemorrhoids are itching, irritation, swelling, pain, discomfort when going to the bathroom and, in certain cases, bleeding associated with bowel movements that can be seen in the toilet or on the toilet paper after cleaning.
The truth is that this alteration is more common than it may seem. And around 40% of women suffer from hemorrhoids during pregnancy . But why do they appear? We see it.
Why do hemorrhoids appear during pregnancy?
The main explanation for hemorrhoids in pregnancy is found in the increase in pressure that the baby exerts on the pelvis.
As your baby grows, your uterus grows with him. This growth causes increasingly stronger pressure on the veins of the rectum and anus, which become inflamed and can become painful.
To this we must add the increase in progesterone , a hormone that relaxes the walls of the veins, making them more prone to swelling.
Additionally, we must keep in mind that during pregnancy blood volume increases by 30% to 50% to ensure that your baby is well oxygenated and has an adequate supply of nutrients.
Consequently, your veins enlarge, something that contributes to the appearance of hemorrhoids during pregnancy.
Other causes that influence the appearance of hemorrhoids during pregnancy are:
Constipation (caused by the pressure of the uterus against the intestine or the consumption of iron supplements during pregnancy)
Sitting or standing for long periods of time
Carrying excess weight .
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy, when do they appear?
It is more common for hemorrhoids in pregnancy to appear in the third trimester, around week 28.
This is when the uterus acquires a larger size, occupying the entire abdominal cavity and exerting greater pressure on the veins.
If in your case you have suffered hemorrhoids before your pregnancy or in previous pregnancies, it is more likely that they will appear earlier, during the first weeks.
They may also appear immediately after labor . Think that, during pushing, our abdominal and pelvic muscles make a titanic effort to achieve expulsion.
This prolonged pressure phase can cause hemorrhoids to worsen or come to light if you have been able to get rid of them until then.
How do I know if I have hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
If you have suspicions, but you are not sure if you have hemorrhoids, we give you some clues to confirm it:
You feel itching or pain around your anus.
You just went to the bathroom, but you still feel the need to poop.
You see blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl after going to the bathroom (sometimes this is the only way to know that internal hemorrhoids exist).
You notice a discharge of mucus after pooping.
You notice bumps on the outside of the anus (in this case they will be external hemorrhoids).
If in doubt, find a mirror and take a look. They are not an image to remember, but health is king, right?
If, even after doing these checks, you still have doubts, tell your midwife at your next visit so she can take a look.
Don't be ashamed of it. You already know that it is very common to suffer from hemorrhoids during pregnancy and midwives are more than used to dealing with them.
How long do hemorrhoids last during pregnancy?
As we have seen, 1 in 4 women suffer from hemorrhoids during pregnancy and, probably you, who are reading this post, are one of them.
But, there is good news. Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are not harmful to your health or that of your baby and are usually a short-term problem.
Most hemorrhoids usually go away on their own after childbirth within a few weeks, although some may persist for months.
It is advisable that, if at any time during pregnancy you notice sudden pain in the hemorrhoid area or unusual bleeding, you should go to the emergency hospital to have it checked out. It is rare, but there is a possibility of hemorrhoidal thrombosis, which must be treated.
How to prevent hemorrhoids and constipation during pregnancy: 10 practical tips
You already know that there are several causes behind hemorrhoids in pregnancy and, although most of them are inevitable - your baby must grow as well as your uterus, generating pressure on your pelvis and intestines - there is something that will help you prevent its appearance. It's about avoiding constipation.
Remember that constipation can aggravate, and even cause, hemorrhoids during pregnancy. When stool is hard, you have to make extra efforts to pass it, and this excessive pressure on the veins in the rectal area contributes to them becoming inflamed.
To get rid of constipation, put these 10 tips into practice:
Start each morning with a glass of water and a teaspoon of flax seeds (they should be soaked for at least 12 hours).
Stay well hydrated . In fact, the European Food Safety Authority recommends drinking 2.3 liters of water per day during pregnancy.
Increase the consumption of foods rich in fiber in your daily diet (avocados, broccoli, artichoke, cabbage, oats, quinoa, lentils, peas, walnuts, plums, kiwis or pears are good options).
Don't hold back the urge to poop and visit the bathroom as soon as you feel the need.
Avoid sitting on the toilet for long periods of time to avoid putting unnecessary and prolonged pressure on the intestine and rectum. Yes, we already know that this little time alone in the bathroom is sometimes our break in the day to relax with our cell phone in hand (especially if there are older siblings at home). But while you are pregnant, you will have to give up this hiding place. Use only the necessary timeto evacuate or pee.
Do not sit or stand for long periods of time . For example, at work, try walking a few minutes every hour.
If you're relaxing on the couch, do so lying on your side to avoid pressure on your rectal veins. Likewise, the most appropriate position to sleep with hemorrhoids during pregnancy is to lie on your left side . This way you will also help oxygen reach the placenta better.
Do Kegel exercises daily to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and help support your rectum. In addition, they will help you improve circulation in the area and prepare the perineum for childbirth .
Stay active and exercise regularly . Simply going for a walk every day helps increase circulation and improve digestion. Having a sluggish intestine does not help fight constipation.
Did you know that the best way to go to the bathroom is to squat? To do this, use a bathroom stool . It allows you to recover the ergonomic position and helps with more efficient emptying, preventing constipation.
What can you do to treat and relieve hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
If, despite your efforts, hemorrhoids have decided to make an appearance during your sweet wait to sour it a little, don't despair.
There are ways to treat and relieve hemorrhoids during pregnancy. We are going to tell you.
Apply natural oils with calendula to the anus to relieve itching, reduce the inflammation of hemorrhoids during pregnancy and facilitate the passage of stool.