Hemorrhoids After Pregnancy

Hemorrhoids after pregnancy is a common side effect, occurring in the rectal area both during the pregnancy stage and post-delivery. Women that have had them before conception have higher chances of developing them again, though most women acquire them for the first time around the pregnancy period. Most drug stores contain solutions that should help to rectify the situation with minimum hassle, especially if you avoid constipation. However, there are also a lot of home remedies for this annoyance. In severe cases, it is better to seek professional help.

What do Hemorrhoids after Pregnancy Feel Like?

Hemorrhoids, which are medically known as varicose veins, are blood vessels that swell up and cause irritation and discomfort in the rectal area. They are not very large, usually not exceeding the size of a grape, and can be detected when one passes blood during bowel movements.

Besides passing blood, other signs that you might have a hemorrhoid are itchiness around the area or even extreme pain in some cases. Larger hemorrhoids are physically apparent outside the anus, taking the shape of a soft swollen bump. They are simple to treat, and in most cases, they disappear on their own, once the delivery has taken place.

Causes of Hemorrhoids after Pregnancy

During hemorrhoids, your uterus increases in size, which strains the pelvic veins and inferior vena cava (a large vein located on your right side, which receives blood from your lower appendages). When your natural blood flow is decreased, the lower half of your body does not get enough blood, causing the veins below the uterus to enlarge due to the increased pressure.

The reason that hemorrhoids are more common with pregnant women is because during pregnancy they produce a hormone called progesterone, which eases the walls around your veins so that they can enlarge easily. This hormone is also responsible for constipation, which occurs due to a slackening of your intestinal tract. This is why many women experience constipation during pregnancy and even after.

Constipation increases the pressure on your body, which can further aggravate hemorrhoids, so be careful to avoid it. Other reasons why women might develop them would be during childbirth, when they are pushing the baby out of their body. This increased anxiety can cause varicose veins to develop in other parts of the body as well, including the legs and the vulva.

Remedies for Hemorrhoids after Pregnancy

There are a number of things that can be done to ease suffering caused by hemorrhoids, including home remedies. Here is a list of some of them.

1. Apply Ice Pack

Applying an ice pack is a common solution to decrease swelling, so create a small pack for yourself, preferably in soft packaging. Keep this handy and apply it to the affected area multiple times during the day. Some women claim that when witch-hazel is combined with a cold compress and applied, it produces better results than an ice pack by its self.

2. Soak in Warm Water

Prepare a hot bath for yourself and let your bottom half soak in the warm water until you feel that your pain has decreased (usually 10-15 minutes at a time). This will relax your body, putting less strain on your veins, which will calm the swelling. You can choose to do this one of two ways. Either you can sit in your tub or you can prepare a sitz bath.

3. Try a Sitz Bath

A sitz bath is a plastic container that you can fill with water and place over your toilet, allowing you to sit comfortably in it. Sitz baths are available at drug stores and hospitals, so you can purchase one and keep it in your home.

The point is to target your rectal area, so your choice depends on whether you are more comfortable with the former or the latter. Make sure that you repeat this process a few times a day, depending on the level of your discomfort.

Tips and Precautions:

While buying your sitz bath, also purchase a peri-bottle, which is a small plastic squirt bottle that hospitals provide to patients in such situations. Use this peri-bottle to clean yourself thoroughly after a bowel movement. Also, try not to use toilet paper to clean yourself, as it is dry and might increase your pain. Use moist wipes which will be easier on the area, specifically ‘Tucks’, because they contain witch hazel and have been designed particularly for hemorrhoids.

4. Rotate Between Warm and Cold

Try to alternate the two methods mentioned above, as the hot and cold rotations will be more effective than just one. Use the ice pack first to decrease the swelling and then sit in a warm bath, repeating the process throughout your day.

5. Use Soft Tissue

If you have any stitches near the area, be sure to consult your doctor about after-care procedures. If you prefer not to use moist wipes, then make sure you buy toilet paper that is unscented and soft, with no artificial coloring. Scents and coloring will aggravate the situation, so keep that in mind.

6. Avoid Pressure on Rectal Veins

The point is to decrease the strain being placed on your veins, so avoid doing anything that will stress you out or tire you. Do not sit or stand for long periods of time and lie down as often as you can manage- for example, during nursing, reading or TV watching.

7. Take Stool Softener

Regular, soft bowel movements will help prevent further irritation of the hemorrhoids. You can take a gentle laxative or stool softener (whatever your doctor says is safe for postpartum use) to help loosen stools and also to prevent straining during bowel movements. Your doctor may also suggest or prescribe a safe suppository.

8. Try Creams and Pain Relievers

Due to the frequency of hemorrhoids, drug stores now have many creams and pain relief products that you can buy over the counter. It is best to consult your doctor before buying any of these, as they will know which one is best for you. Ask your doctor for a topical anesthetic or medicated suppository that you can purchase to help with your pain.

Also keep in mind that most of these medicines are not meant to be used for longer than a week, because their continued use can aggravate the situation rather than help. If you have any episiotomy or tear in/near the area, consult a medical care expert before applying anything.

9. Take Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen

For women that are breast-feeding, it is very important to remember than any product containing aspirin or aspirin itself must be avoided. If you need something to alleviate the pain, then acetaminophen or ibuprofens are better options. Do not exceed the recommended amount either and if this does not decrease your pain, then call your midwife or physician.

How to Speed Healing of Hemorrhoids after Pregnancy

Here are a few tips to help you heal faster and avoid developing this issue again:

  • Foods and Drinks. Avoid being constipated at all costs by eating a diet that is high in fiber, drinking a lot of water and exercising regularly. You can also ask your doctor to prescribe a stool softener or a fiber supplement.
  • Don’t Hold the Urge. Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge, because delaying can cause the bowel to dry up, making it harder to pass and resulting in you having to strain your body. Do not stay on the toilet for longer than you have to either.
  • Do Kegel exercises. These are meant specifically for your rectal area, help to increase the circulation around the rectal area and are an excellent preventive measure. Performing them regularly helps prevent hemorrhoids, as well as tone and strengthen your muscles after pregnancy.

If the home remedies do not ease your pain or you start to see blood, it is time to call your doctor. Usually hemorrhoids after pregnancy disappear without any help, however in some cases they can become dangerous, so it is very important that you go in for a checkup and consult a professional for treatment. Minor surgery might also be performed in extreme situations.

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