Hemorrhoids are also known as varicose veins in the rectum. They can become itchy, uncomfortable and painful. While they may not make you comfortable now, they are considered common and harmless. In fact, more than half of pregnant women get them, especially those who are in the second to third trimesters.

Hemorrhoids are blood vessels in the rectum that have become unusually inflamed and swollen. Their sizes can range from the size of a pea to a grape. They can be found inside the rectum. However, there are cases wherein they protrude through the anus. In some cases, hemorrhoids can cause rectal bleeding, especially when you are removing your bowel.

In most cases, hemorrhoids that have developed during a pregnancy period will start to resolve after you give birth, especially if you take extra precautions to avoid becoming constipated.

What makes pregnant women prone to developing hemorrhoids?

Pregnancy does not only make you prone to developing varicose veins in the legs but also varicose veins in the rectum or hemorrhoids. There are several reasons why this happens. One reason would be the increased pressure that the expanding uterus places on the inferior vena cava and the pelvic veins. With the increase in pressure, there is slow return of blood from the lower limbs. Moreover, this causes the increase in pressure on the veins, resulting to more dilated and swollen veins.

One condition that can aggravate hemorrhoids during pregnancy is constipation. Another reason why pregnant women develop hemorrhoids is due to the increase in the production of progesterone. Progesterone is a pregnancy hormone that causes the walls of the veins to relax, resulting to the veins’ ability to swell easily.  In addition, the same hormone also contributes to constipation, as this slows down the intestinal tract. There are some cases that hemorrhoids will develop after giving birth, as this result from pushing during labor.

What are the signs of hemorrhoids?

If you have hemorrhoids when pregnant, you will probably notice irritation or pain in your rectal area. There are cases that you will be able to palpate a weird lump in your anal area. In severe cases, you will likely bleed when you are moving your bowel.

This condition may be diagnosed by your health care provider after a thorough physical examination. Further tests may be indicated if a more serious digestive disease is suspected.

How to treat hemorrhoids during pregnancy?

If you have hemorrhoids while pregnant, there are several things that you can do help relieve this symptom. Here are some effective ways to treat hemorrhoids during pregnancy.

  • Apply an ice pack to the affected area. To ease the pain associated with hemorrhoids and to relieve some of the swelling, you can apply an ice pack to the affected area several times in a day. Ice will help decrease the discomfort and swelling associated with this pregnancy symptom. Some women apply cold compresses that are saturated with witch hazel, as they find this option more soothing.
  • Soak your bottom in warm water. Another effective way to treat hemorrhoids is to soak your bottom in warm water for about 10 minutes several times each day.
  • Alternate cold and warm compresses on the affected area. Another way to treat this pregnancy symptom is to try alternating cold and warm compresses. This will help soothe the pain and reduce swelling on the affected area.
  • Keep it clean down there. If you are removing your bowel, you should always make sure that you keep the affected area clean right after. You can use unscented and soft toilet tissue, as this causes less irritation. Warm water and mild soap works great, too.
  • Take doctor-prescribed medications. If your discomfort is severe, you can seek consult from your health care provider. You can ask your health care provider for any safe topical anesthetic or any medication that can help relieve this pregnancy symptom. This way, you are guaranteed that you will be using medications that are safe to use while you are pregnant.

How to prevent hemorrhoids during pregnancy?

Prevention definitely is better than cure. If you have not developed this pregnancy symptom yet, there are a number of ways that you can do to help prevent hemorrhoids from developing. Here are some of these ways.

  • Avoid constipation. The first thing that you need to do to avoid the development of hemorrhoids is to avoid constipation. You can do this by eating a high fiber diet and drinking plenty of water. In addition, you should also get regular exercise that is appropriate for pregnant women. If you are already constipated, you should seek consult from your health care provider. You can ask for a prescription on a fiber supplement or perhaps a safe stool softener.
  • Don’t strain when doing the number two. You shouldn’t wait when you have the urge to have a bowel movement. Moreover, you should avoid straining and lingering on the toilet as this will add pressure on the affected area.
  • Do kegel exercises regularly. You should also practice doing Kegel exercise daily. This type of exercise can help increase the circulation on the rectal area. Moreover, this can strengthen the muscles on the anal region, decreasing the chance of developing hemorrhoids while you are pregnant.
  • Avoid sitting and standing for long periods of time. You should also avoid standing or sitting for prolonged periods. If your job involves sitting most of the time, you should consider getting breaks every hour or so. You should stand up and walk for a few minutes every hour.

When should you call your health care provider?

If you are bleeding from your anus due to hemorrhoids, you should consult your health care provider right away. Moreover, if your efforts to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with this pregnancy symptom do not work, you should consult your doctor. This way, your health care provider can examine you and provide you with alternative treatments for this pregnancy symptom.