Hey hey! It’s everyone’s favorite topic – hemorrhoids during pregnancy!
Just another one of those wonderful pregnancy side effects we can all look forward to. The good news is that, in most cases, hemorrhoids during pregnancy can be treated easily and naturally at home.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen or inflamed veins in the rectum and around the anus, basically varicose veins in your bum. There are two kinds, internal and external.
Internal hemorrhoids are inside the rectum and usually painless, but may cause some pressure. However, if an internal hemorrhoid prolapses (gets pushed outside) it can be very painful. External hemorrhoids are small lumps outside of the rectum which can be painful and itchy.
Symptoms include rectal bleeding, itching, burning and pain or pressure, a bulge on the anus, bright red blood on toilet paper.
Why do we get hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, our uterus and blood volume increases, which puts more pressure on the veins that run through our anus causing them to swell.
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy can also be a result of constipation. Thanks to pregnancy hormones, our bowels slow down during pregnancy and constipation can result.
Prenatal vitamins that contain synthetic iron may also be to blame. Synthetic iron can be very constipating. The straining that comes along with constipation can cause hemorrhoids to appear.
Finally, increased blood flow because of pregnancy may also be to blame. In combination with the extra pressure from your growing uterus, extra blood flow makes veins more susceptible to becoming inflamed.
When do most moms get them?
Though hemorrhoids can appear at any time, most moms get them in the third trimester or during labor (straining to push a baby out is a lot like straining to have a bowel movement).
Natural remedies for hemorrhoids during pregnancy
Apple Cider Vinegar Sitz bath. Add a half cup of raw ACV to a sitz bath and soak.
Apply coconut oil to the hemorrhoids. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties which can help with the itching. It can relieve pain and inflammation and should help hemorrhoids to heal in a few days.
Witch hazel compress. Soak a pad in organic witch hazel, freeze, and apply to hemorrhoids (great for postpartum too!). These can soothe and heal the inflamed area.
Aloe vera. Apply aloe to the inflamed area for relief. Best to use fresh aloe vera from the leaves of a plant. Whole Foods sells large aloe leaves or you can get a plant at your local nursery. If those aren’t options, be sure to use a pure aloe vera without added chemicals and fragrances.
Wet wipe. Instead of using dry toilet paper, try using natural baby wipes or witch hazel wipes to avoid more irritation.
Acupuncture. If circulation is to blame for your hemorrhoids, acupuncture can help get things moving. Acupuncture can also improve muscle function, which can help with pregnancy hemorrhoids.
Arnica. Apply an arnica gel (or add arnica oil to coconut oil) to the area. Arnica reduces inflammation and heals bruises.
How can you avoid getting hemorrhoids during pregnancy?
Choose a food based prenatal vitamin. Synthetic vitamins, especially iron, can cause constipation. Food based prenatals are more absorbable and don’t cause constipation.
Drink lots of water! You need lots of water during pregnancy, and if you aren’t drinking enough your body will reabsorb water through the colon leaving dry stool that’s hard to push out. You want to keep your daily doo at a 4 on the Bristol Stool Chart.
Eat a healthy diet. Make sure you are getting plenty of fiber from whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Soaked chia seeds can be wonderful to keep the bowels moving. Don’t forget to include healthy fats as these keep the bowel lubricated. Good sources include virgin coconut oil, pastured butter, raw olive oil, and avocados.
Exercise regularly. Exercise gets your blood pumping, your lymph system moving, and gently massages the digestive system.
Squat to do your doo. Squatting is the natural way to poo. Sitting, or worse, leaning back, pinches the intestines so your stool gets stuck. It puts a lot of pressure on the rectum where squatting lets everything relax. You can try raising your legs up and leaning forward so you’re in a more squatty position or you can invest in one of these.
Here are more tips on how to have a great poop.
Consume probiotics. Whether in supplement form or from fermented foods, probiotics will help keep everything functioning and flowing.
Do you need to see a doctor?
You don’t usually need to see a doctor for hemorrhoids. Natural remedies will usually take care of them in a few days.
If you’ve tried all the aforementioned remedies and pregnancy hemorrhoids symptoms persist, call your midwife or doctor.
If you have severe symptoms like more than a smear of blood, a lump on the rectum, or have rectal pain, call your midwife or doctor.
How about you?
Did you have hemorrhoids during pregnancy? How did you find relief? Share with us in the comments below.