Piles in pregnancy

Around 50% of women experience haemorrhoids at some time during or just after pregnancy - so what's the best way to treat them?

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Pregnant and suffering from piles? What a bummer ?

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All kidding aside, this is a tricky one to talk about, as many of us don’t like talking about bum problems at the best of times – let alone when we’re pregnant.

But it IS a fact that almost 50% of mums-to-be will get piles either during, or just after, pregnancy.

“Like a lot of pregnancy-related conditions, piles – or haemorrhoids – are caused by hormonal changes,” says midwife Mervi Jokinen, from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

And as a result, your doctors and midwives have seen them countless of times, so try not to be too embarrassed when you get them checked out.

What is a pile?

A pile, or haemorrhoid, is a swelling of enlarged blood vessels inside or just outside the bottom. It’s basically a varicose vein at the entrance of your bottom.

You may see or feel a lump hanging down outside your anus, or you may have bright red bleeding after a bowel movement or itching. It’s said that they’re usually a similar size to a grape ?

Does this all sound a bit gross? That’s because they are. But piles can also, unfortunately, be extremely painful.

As MFMer JennyJones2 says: “Wow wee I’ve never been in so much pain! I’m 40+6 and the other day was very constipated – tried everything not to strain or push.

“It physically feels like I’ve sat on a bees’ nest. I can’t sit, I can’t stand, can’t walk (can’t tell [my husband] as this kinda stuff freaks him) please help do I do something before labour or after? Will it pop? HHHEEEELLLLPPPP!”

Why do haemorrhoids happen when you’re pregnant?

“During pregnancy the hormone progesterone is released which relaxes the blood vessel walls,” says Mervi.

“Progesterone also makes the bowel relax. Combined with the growing pressure of your baby on your bowel, it’s very common to get a pile or two in pregnancy.

“Especially during the later stages when your baby’s head is pressing down on your bowel.”

She adds: “Many women also get constipated during pregnancy [again often due to those delightful hormonal changes] and this ups your chances of getting piles because you may strain when going to the toilet.”

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How can you make piles go away?

The key is not to suffer in silence, and seek advice from a medcal pro ?

“Speak to your GP or midwife for advice right away,” says Mervi. “There are lots of treatments available that can help ease the discomfort.”

There are loads of medical treatments to try, such as suppositories, creams and tablets…

MFM mum FunkyRabbit says: “I used Anusol suppositories. You can buy them or your GP will prescribe them and they work like a charm. Or you can use the cream version but keep it in the fridge… it’s more soothing chilled!”

While megmum plumps for more of a, shall we say, French method:

“I’m only 19 weeks and have them already! Didn’t get them till much later last time but then I was pre-baby thin and fit! I sit on the bidet with cold water running – blissss. Xyloproct and Anusol from GP are lifesavers though!”

“I used a cream called Analcare,” says Lisa. “It’s a bit pricey but it’s worth it because it worked brilliantly for me. My local pharmacist told me about it.”

Are there any natural remedies for piles?

“I found witch hazel very good,” says Chloe. “So is a long soak in a warm bath with a bit of salt in it. I also tried sitting on a hot water bottle to ease the pain.

“Anusol is also good as it starts to shrink it but you have to keep using it.”

“I had them in my last pregnancy and I drank lots of water, upped my fibre intake and bought a lot of moist toilet paper!” says MrsChaplic. “A warm bath also helps a lot.”

Mervi also recommends avoiding constipation by drinking plenty of water and eating fibre rich foods like wholegrain bread, fruits and vegetables.

Some gentle exercise (if you feel up to it) helps stimulate the bowel, which helps ease constipation, too.

Lastly, try not to squeeze yourself into tight fitting clothing because this can make piles worse. Mind you, skinny jeans are probs the last thing you feel like wearing, anyway…

Piles after birth – what will happen?

You may not have them at all in pregnancy but then develop them after the birth, especially if you had a big baby or a long pushing stage.

After all, there’s a lot of pressure on the bowel during labour, says midwife Mervi.

MFMer annem1982 has seen piles from the other side of pregnancy – and she reckons it’s not too pretty: “I never had piles when I was pregnant, but boy have I suffered since I had my little girl 19 weeks ago. Going to the loo was more painful than giving birth and I’m not joking!

“I’ve tried everything and they’re still there. I’m taking a Dulcoease tablet every night which means my toilet is coming out like water (sorry) but what a bliss it is.”

Rest assured that the NHS website says that, for most, piles post-baby will only last a few days. It also says following the above advice about avoiding constipation is a good plan.

And if you’re noticing symptoms of piles – like bleeding when you’ve been to the toilet – do let your GP know, as, very occasionally, this could be a sign of something more serious.

Have your say

Have you suffered with during or post-pregnancy piles? Did you have a particularly rocky experience with haemorrhoids, and want to share your symptom-solving tricks?

Drop us a line in the comments below!

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