Many of you may be eager to know how to get rid of hemorrhoids during pregnancy, which are so uncomfortable and often painful! That burning feeling every time you use the toilet is hard to ignore, but it’s a common part of childbearing. While non-pregnant individuals also experience hemorrhoids, pregnant individuals are more prone to develop them because of the changes in your body.
Some individuals manage to keep this issue at bay, while most are not very lucky and develop hemorrhoids during pregnancy. Usually, they develop during the later stage of pregnancy until after childbirth. Understanding the nature of hemorrhoids may not completely save you from it, but it will help alleviate the symptoms.
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids develop when the blood vessels in the rectal area swell due to pressure on the pelvis. This pressure comes from a pregnant individual’s growing uterus. “They are like varicose veins in the legs,” says Dr. Folch-Hayek, OBGYN at Family Health Centers of San Diego (FHCSD). “They are not permanent and go away once the baby is delivered, as the congestion reduces.”
Internal vs External Hemorrhoids a.k.a Thrombosed Hemorrhoid
Internal hemorrhoids develop inside the rectal area while external hemorrhoids develop outside, around the rectum’s opening. While internal hemorrhoids can go undetected with a little sensation, external hemorrhoids, also known as a thrombosed hemorrhoids, are more painful and inconvenient. Among its symptoms include:
- Painful bowel movements
- Bleeding or blood clot
- Burning sensation
According to Dr. Folch-Hayek, “A thrombosed hemorrhoid is not dangerous to the baby, but it can be uncomfortable during pregnancy.”
What Causes Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy?
Several contributing factors lead to developing hemorrhoids during pregnancy. These include the following:
While it’s true that the food you eat can cause constipation, hemorrhoids can still develop even when you watch your diet. This is because during pregnancy, the progesterone hormone level increases, which relaxes your intestinal muscles. A relaxed intestine means a slower metabolism, and a slow metabolism can lead to constipation.
“I advise my patients to drink lots of water and always include fiber in their diet to avoid constipation. If constipation continues despite making these dietary changes, medications are indicated to avoid straining,” says Dr. Folch-Hayek. “I also advise them to make changes in their toilet habits.”
Why should pregnant individuals be mindful of their toilet habits too?
Certain activities, like sitting in the toilet for an extended time, can cause hemorrhoids as well. You may be inclined to play mobile games or read while using the toilet, and time can pass by. This simple activity can lead to congestion and increases the likelihood of hemorrhoids. For this reason, it is best to limit the time you spend inside the restroom.
One of the most likely reasons for having hemorrhoids while pregnant is poor eating habits. Not consuming enough fiber and eating lots of carbohydrates may lead to developing hemorrhoids, just like non-pregnant people do. Milk and dairy products contain high amounts of calcium, which is one cause of constipation.
To avoid this chain reaction, eat right and perform regular physical activities, even minor movements (i.e., walking, light swimming, basic exercises).
Helpful Tips on How to Get Rid of Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy
So far, there are two major causes of hemorrhoids—weight gain and constipation. If you’re wondering how long pregnancy hemorrhoids last, Dr. Folch-Hayek OBGYN says that they start healing as soon as the cause goes away. But there are ways to get rid of hemorrhoids during pregnancy, and several things that you can do to lessen your risk or relieve the pain.
Diet and exercise
Since constipation is a primary factor for developing hemorrhoids, make sure to increase your fiber and water intake. These will help with digestion, which happens slowly during pregnancy. Exercises also help with fluid and blood circulation, as well as speed up the metabolism a little.
If pain is present, Tylenol will help alleviate it. Although it is perfectly safe for pregnant individuals, you should consult your primary care provider to know how to take this medication. Some topical creams that are safe for use during pregnancy may also help ease the pain and itching but, once again, ask your OBGYN for recommendations. “Usually, what we can only do during this time is pain management,” says Dr. Folch-Hayek.
Donut cushions may also provide relief. “They won’t necessarily treat the hemorrhoids, but they help reduce the pressure in the inflamed area and can provide pregnant individuals comfort,” suggests Dr. Folch-Hayek. These soft pillows can also help if you’re having discomfort after childbirth.
There are instances when hemorrhoids during pregnancy are not only uncomfortable but also start affecting bowel movements. In this case, a physical evaluation becomes necessary, especially if the condition persists after delivery.
Manage Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy with the Help of a Prenatal Care Provider
Hemorrhoids are a huge inconvenience. Like you, many pregnant individuals are looking for effective ways on how to get rid of hemorrhoids during pregnancy or alleviate the symptoms. In some cases, an underlying medical condition may be the cause. It is usually easy to address such conditions, but pregnancy makes it complicated.
Pregnancy limits the medications you can take, the food you eat and the beverages you can drink. This means that you cannot use many over-the-counter reliefs without a prescription. You need the help of an OBGYN to make sure that you are making the right choices in treating conditions like hemorrhoids.
Seek a prenatal specialist. Family Health Centers of San Diego has top-notch OBGYNs, prenatal nutritionists and dietitians to help you go through pregnancy with confidence. Find the care you need at FHCSD, which offers comprehensive prenatal care packages that you can rely on 100%.