Pregnancy Symptoms Week by Week
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Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy

pregnancy hemorrhoidsIn the third trimester, a common pregnancy symptom that you may experience is hemorrhoids (sometimes called “piles”). Hemorrhoids are common in women who suffer from constipation – which is another normal pregnancy symptom.

What is a Pregnancy Hemorrhoid?

Pregnancy hemorrhoids are varicose veins (which are blood vessels that have become swollen) in your rectal area. Hemorrhoids in pregnancy can differ in size – from a raisin to the size of a large grape. Sometimes, pregnancy hemorrhoids can protrude from your anus. When this occurs, you may notice a soft, swollen mass.

Hemorrhoids are itchy, and often painful. They can even rupture and bleed. Unfortunately, they are pretty common during pregnancy. If you’ve never had hemorrhoids before, you can develop this pregnancy symptom for the first time when you’re expecting. On the other hand, if you suffered from hemorrhoids prior to pregnancy, they are more likely to experience this pregnancy symptom when you’re expecting. Some women also get hemorrhoids in the second stage of labor – the pushing stage.

Causes of Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy

Under normal circumstances, you can get hemorrhoids from straining when you’re constipated. The extra pressure can cause the veins in your rectal area to swell up and enlarge.

When you’re pregnant, you are easily constipated, so this may be why you’re more prone to hemorrhoids. Pregnancy hormones are another reason that you’re more likely to get hemorrhoids. For one, the higher levels of progesterone (a pregnancy hormone) relax the walls of the veins in your body. This allows the veins to swell up, and causes varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and other pregnancy symptoms.

Another reason why you may suffer from hemorrhoids in pregnancy is more physical. As your uterus grows in pregnancy, it places more pressure on your pelvic veins and the inferior vena cava (a large vein on the right side of your body that transports blood from your lower extremities to your heart). This pressure can slow the return of blood from the lower parts of your body, which increases pressure on the veins underneath your uterus and causes them to become more swollen – i.e. causing pregnancy hemorrhoids.

How to Treat Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy

In most cases, hemorrhoids in pregnancy go away after you give birth. However, this pregnancy symptom can be annoying and painful, depending on the severity of your hemorrhoids.

Prevention is key. Because constipation is a factor in the development of pregnancy hemorrhoids, you’ll want to try to prevent constipation at all costs. Tips to prevent constipation include drinking plenty of water, eating lots of high fiber foods (like raw fruits, vegetables, beans), exercising on a regular basis, gain the recommended weight for your body size, and avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time (this promotes blood circulation).

When hemorrhoids occur in pregnancy, there are several things that you can do to relieve the pain, swelling, and itchiness that accompany this pregnancy symptom. Here are a few tips to get hemorrhoid pain relief:

  • Soak your rectal area in warm water. Fill your bathtub with plain water and soak in it a few times a day.
  • Use icy packs or cold compresses to your anus to relieve swelling from pregnancy-related hemorrhoids.
  • Use witch hazel (available over the counter at most pharmacies). You’ll want to soak cotton pads with witch hazel and apply it to your anus.
  • Keep your anal area clean. After each bowel movement, use soft and unscented toilet paper. This may cause less irritation than the scented varieties.
  • Talk to your doctor about using a safe hemorrhoid cream to give you relief.

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