Hemorrhoids, or piles, occur commonly during pregnancy. A hemorrhoid develops in the anus or lower rectum when the veins of the tissues become swollen or inflamed. Pregnancy is a time when hemorrhoids develop easily due to the slowing of the digestive process when estrogen levels increase. The weight of the baby can also put pressure on the intestines, leading to bulging veins and constipation. Prevention methods are advisable during pregnancy. When piles develop, there are several treatment methods safe for use during pregnancy.
A warm bath of colloidal oatmeal or Epsom salts several times per day can help reduce swelling and cleanse the area without further irritating the area. EMedTV.com suggests taking four or five baths per day for at least 20 or 30 minutes at a time.
An ice pack applied to hemorrhoids outside the body can reduce swelling and inflammation. This method can be used for 10 to 15 minutes at a time at least three or four times per day. It is often more soothing to place a soft cloth between the ice pack and the skin due to the cold temperatures.
Hemorrhoid Cream or Ointment
An over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream or ointment can also be effective in reducing swelling, treating pain and relieving itching. Many of these commercial products come with a special applicator for inserting the cream or ointment into the rectum to soothe internal hemorrhoids.
Commercial hemorrhoid pads or cotton balls saturated in witch hazel can have the same soothing properties as the creams. Witch hazel and hemorrhoid pads can help gently cleanse the area, especially following a bowel movement.
Oral Pain Medicine
During pregnancy a health care provider may recommend an oral pain reliever, such as acetaminophen. This medication should only be taken for as long and as often as directed by a doctor.
An over-the-counter stool softener product may be recommended by a health care provider. This product can help add liquids to the stool to make them easier to pass. Hard stools can exacerbate existing hemorrhoids or cause new ones to flare up.
Natural stool softening can be effective as well. During pregnancy it is important to drink eight to 10 glasses of water each day, says BabyCenter.com. In addition to this fluid intake, a woman should monitor her fiber sources as well. Eating fruit and whole grains can help keep the bowels running smoothly. A short, brisk walk and daily exercise can also help keep the bowels moving along.
Taking the weight off the rectum can relieve pressure felt at the site of the hemorrhoids. This can be done by elevating the feet or sitting down after long periods of standing. BabyCenter.com also suggests resting on the left side to promote blood circulation to limit the pressure placed on the rectal veins and to allow the blood to return to the lower half of the body. Another way to reduce pressure is to avoid straining during a bowel movement. A pregnant woman should empty her bowels as soon as she feels the urge. The March of Dimes also suggests monitoring weight gain during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain can only put more pressure on the abdomen and intestines.
About this Author
Sarah Irene holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology. Having written stacks of research articles dating back to 2000 and consulted in a number of settings, she is able to be a resource for a vast range of topics. She has been a psychology instructor since 2006 and has had her work published by LIVESTRONG Health and ParentDish.