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piles during pregnancy

What are Haemorrhoids / piles?

Haemorrhoids or piles are swollen veins inside your rectum or in the skin surrounding your anus. They’re usually caused by increased pressure on your lower rectum.

When you’re pregnant, the baby puts extra pressure on this area. As a result, haemorrhoids can develop both during and after pregnancy. They’re especially common after vaginal deliveries.

What are the symptoms of pregnancy piles?

As with regular haemorrhoids / piles, symptoms that develop through pregnancy are similar. These include:

  • Painless bleeding from your bottom. You may see bright red blood after you’ve done a poo.
  • Itching around your bottom.
  • Feeling like your bowels still need emptying after you’ve done a poo.
  • A soft, small lump that hangs out of your bottom after you’ve done a poo.
  • Mucus discharge after a poo. You may also find it harder to control your bowels, and sometimes get a little soiling in your pants.

Why do pregnant women get piles?

When you’re pregnant, the volume of blood circulating round your body increases. At the same time, high levels of the hormone progesterone relax the walls of your blood vessels.

The veins below your womb (uterus) are more likely to become swollen and stretched under the weight of your growing baby. This is why you’re more prone to piles and varicose veins when you’re pregnant.

You can also get swollen veins on your vulva, called vulvar varicose veins.

Constipation, another common pregnancy problem, can also cause piles.

Piles during Pregnancy

How Common are piles during pregnancy?

Piles during pregnancy are quite common. One of the things that newly pregnant mums are rarely told about, is that they can become more prone to piles during pregnancy. 

There are a number of reasons why this might occur. Your growing uterus, constipation, increased progesterone and even the position of your baby can have an effect. About a quarter of mums have piles in the weeks after giving birth (Nazik and Eryilmaz 2013, Poskus et al 2014). 

can I Avoid Getting Piles during pregnancy?

The following tips will help you to avoid piles, as well as ease your symptoms:

  • Eat a high-fibre diet, including wholemeal bread, cereal, wholewheat pasta and brown rice, and lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Drink plenty of water every day, so you don’t become dehydrated.
  • Do some exercise every day, even if it’s just a short, brisk walk.
  • Go to the loo straight away when you feel the urge. Waiting can make your poo harder and drier, and more difficult to pass.
  • Put your feet up on a low stool when doing a poo. It may make opening your bowels easier.
  • Don’t strain while on the loo.
  • You could press on the muscular area between your vagina and back passage (perineum) when you’re on the loo. This stimulates a reflex that increases muscle tone in your rectum, and may make having a poo easier.
  • Try pelvic floor exercises, to strengthen the muscles in your pelvic area. This may make having a poo easier, and prevent piles from developing. 

If you still have constipation after trying these tips, you could ask your GP or midwife to prescribe a laxative that is safe to take during pregnancy.

Download our lifestyle brochure for advice on diet, hydration and exercise

How CAN I TREAT MY PREGNANCY PILES?

While electrotherapy isn’t a suitable treatment for piles during pregnancy, there are effective ways to help alleviate the symptoms you’ll be having. Things like a good diet, plenty of exercise and a cold compress can go a long way to making you feel better. We always recommend speaking to your local pharmacist, since there are many treatments available over the counter. Failing that, speak to your GP if your symptoms are particularly painful.

  • Avoid straining. Straining during a bowel movement puts more pressure on your rectal area. To give yourself time to heal, be mindful not to push, strain, or bear down when sitting on the toilet. Try to let gravity do most of the work.
  • Add fiber to your diet. Dietary fiber helps to soften your stool while also giving it more bulk. A high-fiber diet can help treat and prevent constipation, which makes hemorrhoids worse. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated also helps to prevent constipation.
  • Soak the area. Soothe pain and irritation by soaking the area in warm bathwater for 10 to 15 minutes, two to three times per day. You can use your bathtub or a sitz bath.
  • Keep the area clean. Keeping your anal area clean will help to prevent any additional irritation that might get in the way of the healing process. Rinsing the area with warm water should be enough.
  • Use moistened wipes. Moistened wipes are gentler than dry toilet paper. Opt for fragrance-free wipes to avoid any irritation.
  • Apply a cold pack. Use a clean ice pack or cold compress to reduce painful swelling. Just make sure to wrap it in a towel or cloth before placing it directly on your skin.
If your piles continue to bother you, see your GP or give us a call. There’s no need to suffer on, or feel embarrassed about getting help

How long after giving birth should I wait to treat my piles?

That entirely depends on you. In most cases, piles brought on during pregnancy will naturally remedy themselves. electrotherapy treatment during pregnancy could harm your baby and we strongly recommend getting treatment some time after giving birth. How long is up to you – if you’re recovering well and your piles aren’t clearing up, we can help – even if you’re still breastfeeding. 

If you have severe, ongoing problems with piles after childbirth, please get in touch. Our nurses will be able to provide you with free advice over the phone about your treatment options including our home electrotherapy treatment service. 

Electrotherapy, involves using a gentle electrical current to shrink the haemorrhoid(s) and is carried out by a specialist colorectal nurse in the comfort of your home without you having to visit a hospital or clinic. 

advantages of electrotherapy treatment

  • No preparation (e.g. no enema)
  • No anaesthesia
  • Treatment is carried out in the comfort of your own home
  • Non-invasive — no cutting or needles
  • No need to travel to clinic or hospital — our nurses come to you.  
  • Each treatment takes 10-30 minutes
  • 90% of patients who shared their experience resumed normal activities the same day
  • Many of our patients are cleared after one treatment. 

Electrotherapy is a non-invasive non-surgical treatment that can be used to treat internal piles and, for most people, enable you to get back to your life on the same day. If you still have haemorrhoids / piles after pregnancy please get in touch to discuss your treatment options with a specialist nurse.

when to contact your gp

You need to see your GP if: . 

  • You keep getting recurrent haemorrhoid (piles) symptoms such as itching or soreness or prolapsing (a lump coming out from your bottom, usually when having your bowels open). 
  • You experience bleeding from the anus either on the toilet paper or dripping into the bowl. 

You need to see your GP urgently if: 

  • You have piles and your temperature is very high, with symptoms of a fever. 
  • You have pus leaking from your piles. 
  • You experience a large amount of bleeding from your bottom. 

References:  
https://patient.info/doctor/haemorrhoids-piles-pro 
https://nhs.uk/conditions/piles-haemorrhoids 
https://nice.org.uk/haemorrhoids 
https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19852813  

Speak with our nursing team...

to discuss your symptoms and treatment options

Our nurses are available Monday-Friday 9am - 5pm

Treatment for Haemorrhoids, Sarah Diamond

lifestyle ADvice

Suffering with haemorrhoids? Need some advice? View our lifestyle booklet for advice on diet, exercise, hydration to help manage your symptoms. 

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