What are Pregnancy Hemorrhoids?Pregnancy
That burning ring of fire.
The lyrics to that Johnny Cash song really do ring true for this common pregnancy discomfort. And because it’s everyone’s favorite pregnancy topic—let’s talk about what’s actually going on with your bottom end! Hemorrhoids affect a lot of women during pregnancy, but the good news is in most cases you can easily treat them naturally at home.
There are basically two types of hemorrhoids—internal and external. Hemorrhoids are blood vessels in the rectum that become swollen or inflamed and are basically varicose veins in your bum. Isn’t that lovely? Internal hemorrhoids are inside the anus and are usually painless, but some may cause pressure and be quite painful if they prolapse. External hemorrhoids are swollen veins outside of the rectum which can bleed, be extremely tender, and incredibly itchy.
Hemorrhoids in pregnancy may develop due to the increased blood flow in your body added with the increased pressure of your growing baby in your pelvis, which causes those veins to swell. And thanks to pregnancy hormones, your bowels may slow down and constipation can result. The straining that comes along with constipation can cause hemorrhoids to appear. While hemorrhoids can appear at any time in pregnancy, you are more susceptible to developing them during the third trimester and especially during labour, as you may have strained to push out your baby.
In order to be as proactive as possible in preventing hemorrhoids, try to eat a well-balanced diet high in fiber, drink lots of fluids, and use a stool softener if you’re constipated, so you don't strain while having bowel movements. To relieve hemorrhoid itching or pain, try a warm sitz bath, apply an ice pack, or soak a cotton ball in witch hazel and apply it to the affected area to soothe. Kegel exercises, designed to strengthen the pelvic muscles, can improve circulation in the area. And getting off your feet periodically may also help.
If you’ve tried all the natural remedies and pregnancy hemorrhoid symptoms persist, discuss your options with your doctor or midwife. There is usually a stronger prescription cream that can help alleviate most of the burning and itching. Just remember things will eventually go back to normal!
We encourage you to learn more about our "What in the World" series. Please see our A to Z index for a whole host of pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting information and terminology.
Loree Siermachesky works as a multi-certified labour and postpartum doula, certified Lamaze childbirth educator, certified breastfeeding counselor, certified placenta encapsulation specialist and a certified car seat technician in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. She has had the honour of attending over 1400 births in the last 20 years. She is well-known and greatly respected by the medical providers in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Brooks, Taber, and Calgary. She cares deeply for this profession and even more for her clientele, honoring them in whatever method of birth they choose, or helping them transition to new parenthood as they wish.