Hemorrhoids are a common complaint during pregnancy. As the baby grows, it puts more and more pressure on the area and the baby’s head also presses against the inferior vena cava of the mother. The vena cava returns blood to the heart from the lower extremities and the hemorrhoidal area. If the blood flows more slowly, it can back up, giving rise to an engorged hemorrhoid (which is also a vein). . At the same time, other pregnancy-related issues add to the discomfort. Straining from constipation, for example, can also cause hemorrhoids and exacerbate the pain these inflamed tissues cause.
When a woman comes into our office for hemorrhoid treatment during pregnancy, our first goal is to understand exactly how serious her condition is. Then, we put a plan in place to do everything we can to bring her relief without surgery.
Most people do not need invasive treatment for their hemorrhoids. This is true of pregnant women, as well. Most people respond well to noninvasive, in-office and at-home treatments, and their hemorrhoid pain fades within a week or so.
What Are The Most Common Noninvasive Treatments?
Some people try to treat their hemorrhoid symptoms on their own, but pregnant women should always talk to their obstetrician or a hemorrhoid specialist before using any topical creams or other medicated treatments. We help women get the relief they need as quickly as possible by helping them put a plan in place to reduce inflammation, lessen pain, and allow for speedy healing.
Cure and Prevent Constipation
Constipation during pregnancy can exacerbate hemorrhoids. We may prescribe stool softeners, and advise diet modification to include high fiber fruits and vegetables, and an increased water intake.
Use the Bathroom When You Need to
Any time you feel the urge, you need to go to the bathroom. If you do not go when your body gives you signals that your bowels are ready to move, problems can occur. Backed up stool causes even more pressure on the anus, and may even worsen constipation. Hemorrhoids can make defecation painful, but constipation will only worsen the pain.
Utilize Sitz Baths
Sitz baths can help swelling and reduce your pain. They are also a great way to stop muscle spasms. Luckily, you do not need to get into the bathtub for a sitz bath. Instead, we can help you acquire a tub that fits over your toilet seat. Simply put some warm water in the tub, and soak the affected area for 15 minutes each time have a bowel movement, as well as other times during the day when you need relief.
Use Recommended Medications
There are over-the-counter treatments for hemorrhoids, but we do not recommend pregnant women use any of these topical medications unless we prescribe them. We may be able to offer creams, suppositories, or wipes that will not cause harm to you or the baby, but we need to take your medical history and fully understand the details of your case first.
Alternate Cold and Warm
Ice packs, when applied in short periods of 10-15 minutes, my help to reduce swelling of inflamed external hemorrhoids. Be careful to protect your skin from damage by wrapping the ice packs in a towel. You can alternate this cold treatment with a warm sitz bath, to help ease your discomfort.
You need to keep the area clean, but you also need to be careful to treat this sensitive skin gently. Many people keep a spray bottle of warm water to help them clean up after a bowel movement, and others opt to just hop in a warm shower instead of wiping. Be careful not to wipe dry with a towel, either. Pat the area, or use a warm hair dryer or other type of fan to dry off before you put your pants back on. Do not put soap on your anal area. Soap can be extremely irritating.
Stay as Active as Possible
Depending on pregnancy complications, you may be on bed rest or off of your feet most of the time. If so, it is important to follow your obstetrician’s instructions. However, if you can engage in some light activity, it is best to do so. Go for a slow walk around your neighborhood, or a lap around the local shopping mall. If you do need to sit for extended periods, look for a soft spot instead of a hard surface. This can help to relieve the pain and swelling from hemorrhoids.
When Is Hemorrhoid Removal Necessary?
Sometimes more invasive treatment is unavoidable. This is relatively rare, since hemorrhoid surgery is only needed for the most severe cases. However, our surgeons have the skill and experience necessary to perform a procedure for prolapse and hemorrhoids (PPH) or hemorrhoidectomy during pregnancy if nothing else offers the same level of relief. This may occur if you experience no improvement after noninvasive treatments, uncontrolled bleeding, or a prolapsed hemorrhoid that cannot be replaced manually.