Pregnancy may exacerbate a medical condition known as hemorrhoids.
Pregnant women may be more susceptible to hemorrhoids and complications can occur that may cause issues during labor or for an unborn or newborn child’s well-being. However, there are tips and therapeutic protocols that can be done to help avoid this from happening.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Medically referred to as piles, hemorrhoids occur when the veins surrounding an individual’s rectum and anus grow enlarged and swollen. The occurrence of piles is common. Nearly 75 percent of all adults will develop the malady at some point in their lives.
The most common associated symptom is pain and itching in the anal area. In certain instances, those stricken will experience bleeding following bowel movements. Less common manifestations include the possibility of a blood clot forming in an impacted blood vessel. Though such occurrences seldom result in serious health consequences, clots can be extremely painful and may require medical intervention to either drain or remove.
How May Pregnancy Exacerbate the Problem?
When a woman becomes pregnant, her uterus increases in size and mass. This expanding organ’s proximity to the rectal and anal regions results in the structure placing pressure on surrounding blood vessels. In turn, associated veins may grow large and become painful.
Additional factors might also contribute to the development of hemorrhoids during pregnancy. Expecting women secrete elevated levels of a reproductive hormone called progesterone. This chemical has been found to relax blood vessel walls, which might make such structures more susceptible to swelling. Pregnant women also experience an increased circulation of blood. These elevated blood levels may place added strain on blood vessels, making the structures more apt to external sensitivities. Finally, the added weight pregnant women carry can also put greater strain on rectal and anal veins.
Complications During Labor or on the Unborn Child
In most instances, hemorrhoids do not pose any significant health risks for the mother or for the unborn child. However, the stress and strain that may occur during labor might exacerbate an existing case.
Tips for Avoidance
While the condition is especially prevalent in expecting women, there are certain strategies these moms can employ that may reduce the chances of it developing, such as:
The inability to execute a bowel movement may result in a pregnant women straining during attempts to do so. The end result could be the emergence or worsening of swollen anal or rectal veins. Constipation may be averted by consuming a diet high in fiber, drinking an increased amount of water and obtaining regular exercise.
Sitting or standing for long periods of time could precipitate stress on impacted blood vessels. Take short frequent walks or change positions to avoid complications.
Should the condition develop, there are remedial measures expecting women can execute to alleviate any associated symptoms including:
Applying Cold and Heat to Impacted Areas
Sometimes, the sensation of cold or heat can ease associated pain and decrease the swelling that has collected in impacted blood vessels. Icepacks may be as helpful, as well as sitz baths with oak bark extract to heal hemorrhoids faster.
Do Not Strain
If experiencing constipation, expecting women are advised not to strain in attempt to force the bowel movement to exit their systems. Straining can provide a major strain on veins.
Use Appropriate Medications
When the pain is more severe, using over-the-counter medication safe for pregnancy and known to reduce swelling and discomfort, such as ointments, suppositories, and tablets, might be recommended.
If the hemorrhoids are very distinct (grade 3 and 4), surgery is usually necessary. However, the doctor must decide by thoroughly weighing the risks and benefits of the operation whether this should be done during pregnancy.
Related Content: The Role of Protein During Pregnancy
Most women recognize that the foods they eat play a huge part in helping their child to grow in the uterus. The quality and composition of foods eaten during pregnancy is just as important as the amount of food eaten. Protein is particularly useful because it helps to form new cells and build the body of the fetus.