HEMORRHOIDS DURING PREGNANCY
Hemorrhoids. It is a subject that nobody talks about easily. But it can cause so much nuisance, especially during/after pregnancy, that it deserves serious attention. Around the time your baby is born, hemorrhoids are a common problem with often unpleasant symptoms. In some women, the hemorrhoids can cause problems even years after pregnancy. How can hemorrhoids be prevented and how do you treat them if they do pop up? Good to know for a maternity nurse, because quite a few midwives are confronted with it – unfortunately.
HIGH PRESSURE IN THE ANUS DURING PREGNANCY
What exactly are hemorrhoids? Hemorrhoids are stretched and swollen blood vessels on the inside of the rectum, just before the anus. For the most part, hemorrhoids are located on the inside of the anus. Hemorrhoids can itch and give you a burning or distressing feeling. The first symptom of hemorrhoids is often a small amount of blood on the stool.
PRESSING WHEN GOING TO THE TOILET OR DURING DELIVERY
Take it easy when going to the toilet, because hemorrhoids occur due to high pressure in the anus and surroundings. This high pressure can mainly be caused by “pressing” hard during bowel movements or during delivery. Sometimes hemorrhoids come out along with the stool, this gives an annoying, oppressive feeling. When the tangle of blood vessels has subsided outside the anus, we speak of external hemorrhoids. In addition, the blood can get stuck in the swollen tissue, making hemorrhoids bleed easily.
A blood clot may also form in veins in the skin around the anus. This is called a ‘thrombotic hemorrhoid’. This too is externally visible and painful. Hemorrhoids are very frequent in pregnant women, an estimated 7 in 10 pregnant women develop them.
THE ACTUAL CAUSE OF HEMORRHOIDS
People still disagree about the actual cause of hemorrhoids. There are a few hypotheses: one looks for the cause of hemorrhoids in the blood vessels themselves, the other in the supporting tissue around them.
Fact is that several factors promote the development of hemorrhoids. Constipation will cause damage to the blood vessels in the outlet of the anus due to the hard stool and prolonged pressing. In particular, a lack of dietary fiber in the food, with as a result the stool becomes too thick and dry, which in turn increases the pressure on the swollen tissue during bowel movements. In addition, sitting on the toilet for a long time is also not recommended.
YOUR HORMONES DURING PREGNANCY AND AFTER CHILDBIRTH
Additional to a tendency to constipation, a pregnancy often creates other reasons for developing hemorrhoids, if you are pregnant the growing uterus causes increased pressure in the abdominal cavity and also the altered hormones in pregnant women play an important role. Especially in the last months of pregnancy, the pressure of the child in the womb creates increased pressure on the blood vessels and during the birth itself that will manifest itself even more. The pressure on the blood vessels that cause the blood to flow back to the heart is counteracted for hours. At this point, it’s possible that the hemorrhoids not only become prominent and even part of the rectum can come out.
I know this sounds horrible, but fortunately, the acute phase of hemorrhoids usually reduces after a week or two. This is due to the fact that the hormonal influences quickly normalize again after giving birth and because the external pressure on the blood vessels disappears after giving birth.
But some women suffer from the residual symptoms of hemorrhoids for the rest of their lives. Some women suffer from ‘skin flaps’, which are stretched anal skin folds that form as a result of the presence of hemorrhoids. Sometimes they are mistaken with hemorrhoids because they can occur simultaneously and are the result of hemorrhoids. But they are actually residual injuries from hemorrhoids.
If a hemorrhoid undergoes a thrombosis, meaning when the blood cannot flow back, it can happen that painful tissue forms. This can occur while you are pregnant or after giving birth. In such cases, one usually goes to a proctologist for further treatment of hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy can be prevented and treated by keeping your stool soft during your entire pregnancy so that you don’t have to “squeeze” too much when going to the toilet. Regular visits to the toilet, in particular, are essential to prevent hemorrhoids. If you feel the urge you really shouldn’t postpone your toilet visit. Regularity and listening to the body are very important here.
To keep your stool soft while you are pregnant, eating enough dietary fiber (bran, brown bread, etc.) and drinking a lot of water (preferably half a gallon or two liters a day or even more) is extra important. Losing weight and sufficient exercise promotes a natural recovery of the hemorrhoids during pregnancy.
The use of laxatives, creams, and suppositories is not recommended because they will eventually lead to a lazy bowel and hypersensitivity reactions.
As long as no complications occur, hemorrhoids can be treated well during pregnancy with cold applications, for example, cold compresses, or a cooling gel on the hemorrhoids. Resting a lot is also important. Some gynecologists also prescribe Phenylephrine with the intention of shrinking the hemorrhoids.
The proctologist or doctor can prescribe a medicine for hemorrhoids that contains flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant substances that protect and strengthen vessel walls. People do not produce flavonoids themselves and are therefore dependent on food containing these substances (for example, red wine contains flavonoids). However, the daily intake of flavonoids is so low that a high concentration is needed to experience the full effects.
The drugs prescribed by the doctor or proctologist, just after the birth, are used in a high dose. If you take these drugs for eight days, the symptoms of hemorrhoids usually disappear.
SUMMARY OF HEMORRHOIDS DURING PREGNANCY
Prevention is key to avoid getting hemorrhoids during pregnancy, meaning drinking lots of water and eating lots of fiber.
If you do get hemorrhoids during your pregnancy, try to rest a lot, use things like cold compresses and visit a proctologist when you have a severe case of hemorrhoids or if you suffer too much discomfort and pain.
I too suffered from hemorrhoids when I was pregnant from my son and I never got rid of them completely, to the point they controlled what my social life, exercise and what I ate.
If you want to know how I got rid of them completely (it’s been a very comfortable year and two months since I was absolutely hemorrhoid-free) CLICK HERE and use the solution I had to search for almost 20 painful and embarrassing years to find. You can thank me later 😉