6 September 2022

There are numerous changes that your body undergoes during pregnancy. One of them is experiencing hemorrhoids or piles. It is common in people of any age, but pregnant women in their third trimester are at a higher risk of developing hemorrhoids.

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are enlarged and swollen blood vessels in the anus and lower rectum. These veins may rupture, cause bleeding, or slip out of place during bowel movements. They range in size from as small as a bead to as large as a nickel. They can also be inside or outside the rectum.

Multiple factors can cause this condition, including:

  • Age
  • Prolonged straining during bowel movement
  • Pregnancy
  • Family history
  • Obesity

What are the causes of pregnancy hemorrhoids?

Increased blood flow to the pelvic area and pressure from the expanding uterus and growing baby can cause the veins in the anus to swell. Constipation can also cause hemorrhoids in pregnant women because pregnancy hormones can slow down the movement of food through the digestive tract. Also, the prolonged straining to move hard stool can put pressure on the veins in your rectal area, causing them to become inflamed.

Three additional causes of hemmorhoids during pregnancy include:

  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Straining from carrying pregnancy weight
  • Sitting or standing for a long time

How can I lower my risk of developing hemorrhoids?

Your body will undergo a lot of changes during pregnancy. Though hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy, you may want to follow these steps to help reduce the swelling of the veins and avoid its complete formation:

  • Fight constipation – Eat a fibre-rich diet like fresh avocados, prunes, apples, and beans. Do not delay whenever you feel the urge to go to the bathroom. If you are already constipated, you may consult your doctor for a fibre supplement or stool softener you can take. Lastly, choose a food-based prenatal vitamin since they are more absorbable 
  • Get moving – Consult your doctor for a safe exercise routine. You may also want to consider Kegel exercises (pelvic floor exercises). If your work requires sitting at a desk, move around for a couple of minutes every hour or less. 
  • Promote good habits – Drink plenty of water and other fluids. Your body will need to reabsorb water through the colon if you are not drinking enough fluid, causing dry stool that is hard to push out. Lie on your side when you have the chance to get the pressure off your rectal veins. Finally, try to maintain an ideal weight. The more weight you gain, the more pressure will be exerted on the rectum.

What are the options to manage hemorrhoids?

Try one of these remedies if you experience any symptoms of hemorrhoids during pregnancy. You may want to:

  • Get a doughnut-shaped pillow to ease the pressure on your rectal area if sitting is uncomfortable for you.
  • Apply an ice pack to the affected area, as cold therapy can help reduce swelling and bring temporary relief.
  • Use soft, unscented toilet tissues or wipes to avoid irritation in the affected area.

When should I see a doctor?

You should consult your doctor if preventive efforts and home remedies are not helpful. Specifically, get immediate attention if you experience the following together with symptoms of hemorrhoids:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe rectal pain and bleeding

Always check with your doctor before taking any hemorrhoidal medication while you are pregnant. For many women, their hemorrhoids should start to resolve by themselves after delivery. In case they persist even after labour, surgical treatment might be recommended.

Conclusion

Hemorrhoids can be itchy, uncomfortable, and painful. It is just one of the many conditions you might experience during your pregnancy journey. As such, it is crucial for you to choose a women’s health clinic in Singapore that provides the best care for pregnant mothers before, during, and after childbirth. At WS Law Women’s Clinic, we listen to your individual needs and concerns to effectively treat your existing gynaecological conditions.