Hey hey! It’s everyone’s favorite topic—hemorrhoids during pregnancy! Yeah, right. 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.

Anatomical drawing showing internal and external hemorrhoids. Digital illustration.

Why Do We Get Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy?

  • Pressure: During pregnancy, our uterus and blood volume increases, which puts more pressure on the veins that run through our anus causing them to swell.
  • Constipation: Thanks to pregnancy hormones, our bowels slow down during pregnancy and constipation can result.
  • Prenatal vitamins: 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.
  • Increased blood flow: In combination with the extra pressure from your growing uterus, extra blood flow makes veins more susceptible to becoming inflamed.

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When Do Most Moms Get Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy?

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

To soothe symptoms and properly heal, follow these steps each day.

Every time you go to the bathroom…

  1. Swap dry toilet paper for wet wipes. Instead of using dry toilet paper, try using natural baby wipes to avoid more irritation.
  2. Clean the area with a perineal bottle filled with lukewarm water.
  3. Apply a watch hazel compress. You can get Tucks, which are already pre-made. Or, you can make your own using even cleaner ingredients. To DIY the pads, soak an eye makeup pad in organic witch hazel, then put it on your bum, let it sit for 15 minutes, then dispose. (Note: Some like to freeze the pads first to increase the cooling sensation for added relief.)
  4. Apply a topical solution for continued relief. Some great options include:
    • Coconut oil. It has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that can help with the itching. It can also relieve pain and inflammation and should help hemorrhoids heal within a few days.
    • 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.
    • Herbal balms. Alternatively, you can try a soothing balm, like this one, or an essential oil blend, like this one.
    • Arnica. Apply an arnica gel (or add arnica oil to coconut oil) to the area. Arnica reduces inflammation and heals bruises.

If you’re having a bowel movement…

  • 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. Squatting, on the other hand, lets everything relax. You can try raising your legs up and leaning forward so you’re in a more squat position, or you can invest in one of these.

Here are more tips on how to have a great poop.

At night…

To help your body heal, try a symptom-relieving soak each night. Here are some very effective solutions:

  • Epsom salt: This is a classic remedy that really works. Fill a sitz bath with 1/2 cup of Epsom salt and lukewarm water. Submerge your vaginal and anal opening and soak for at least 5 minutes.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar sitz bath. Some moms find that adding a half cup of raw ACV to a sitz bath really helps; other moms find this stings, so go slowly and stop if you feel extreme discomfort.

How Can You Prevent Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy?

  • 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.
  • Get enough fiber. This is huge! 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.
  • Incorporate healthy fats. 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.
  • Get plenty of magnesium. Along with fiber, magnesium helps keep your stools regular and soft. You can try magnesium-rich foods or incorporate a magnesium supplement into your daily routine.
  • Choose a food based prenatal vitamin. Synthetic vitamins, especially iron, can cause constipation. Food based prenatals are more absorbable and don’t cause constipation.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise gets your blood pumping, your lymph system moving, and gently massages the digestive system.
  • Consume probiotics. Whether in supplement form or from fermented foods, probiotics will help keep everything functioning and flowing.
  • 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.

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.