Stress, pain, fatigue, nausea, backaches, headaches – the list goes on of side effects during pregnancy. We all know that this can be a joyous yet sometimes challenging time to some women, and to make matters worse, hemorrhoid disease is particularly common in pregnant women, specifically during the third trimester, and in new moms. It is estimated that hemorrhoids affect 20 to 50 percent of pregnant women.
The reason that pregnant women become highly susceptible to hemorrhoids is due to the pressure in the pelvic area that results as a woman’s uterus enlarges. This prompts an increased blood flow in the pelvic area that causes the veins in her rectal wall to swell, bulge and itch.
Progesterone, a hormone that amplifies during pregnancy, increases the risk of hemorrhoids in pregnant women. This hormone causes the walls of the pelvic veins to relax, allowing them to swell more easily. Constipation during pregnancy can aggravate and even cause hemorrhoids as well, so it is important to modify your lifestyle behaviors to maintain regularity.
While these hemorrhoids will usually begin to resolve soon after birth, it is important to be aware of the appropriate precautions and treatments you should take to minimize their impact.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy are not inevitable, and the disease can be avoided by taking the proper precautions. Below are some methods that can help reduce your risk of developing a hemorrhoid.
- Avoid constipation by increasing the amount of fiber and fluid consumption in your diet. Fruits, vegetable and whole grains are all good sources of fiber, which is essential in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
- Sleep on your side, instead of on your back, to reduce the pressure on your rectal veins.
- Do not stand or sit for prolonged periods of time.
- Practice good hygiene.
What To Do When You Develop a Hemorrhoid
If you happen to develop a hemorrhoid during pregnancy, you are not alone. ALWAYS call the doctor and seek treatment. These treatment methods can provide relief from the pain and reduce the amount of discomfort you may be experiencing.
- Apply an ice pack to the affected area several times a day to decrease swelling and discomfort.
- Soak in a warm bathtub for 10 to 15 minutes each day.
- Gently clean the affected area after each bowel movement.
- Most importantly, seek treatment from a doctor.
If you are pregnant or recently gave birth and have questions about hemorrhoids, call our office today at (919) 861-9777.