Haemorrhoids or ‘piles’ are swollen blood vessels in and around the lower part of the anus and rectum. When the veins which carry these blood vessels are stretched, they can become very irritated and cause swelling, mucus, itching, bleeding and discomfort.
During pregnancy the female body undergoes extreme changes, both physical and hormonal, which increase the chance of haemorrhoids developing. The extra weight in the abdomen gained during pregnancy applies pressure to the organs below, which in turn increases pressure in the veins around the pelvic and rectal areas.
These haemorrhoids, which can develop both internally or externally, typically improve soon after a woman gives birth but can be very unpleasant and painful in the meantime.
Here to help any woman who may be suffering, Mr Amyn Haji, Consultant Laparoscopic Colorectal and General Surgeon at The Whiteley Clinic shares his expert knowledge on the top 6 ways to cope with pregnancy piles:
1. Drink lots of water!
Mr Amyn Haji Says: “One of the simplest ways to prevent piles during pregnancy is to stay well hydrated. Drinking lots of water can help to prevent constipation, and therefore decrease the amount of straining and pressure on the anal blood vessels when you go to the toilet. I always recommend that my patients drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day to maintain healthy bowel movements. Drinking plenty of water is during pregnancy will also dilute urine therefore reducing your risk of infection.”
2. Keep moving!
Mr Amyn Haji says: “Regular exercise is important because it helps to stimulate the bowels and prevent constipation. Many women find that they become more sedentary during pregnancy. Extended periods of sitting will put more pressure on the veins in your lower rectum - so being active will help to relieve this pressure and prevent haemorrhoids from flaring up.
Low-impact aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, yoga or swimming are best during pregnancy. Avoid strenuous exercises and activities which will increase abdominal pressure or straining. In addition to generally being unsafe during pregnancy, this type of exercise can lead to the formation of haemorrhoids, so take care not to overexert yourself.”
3. Fill up on fibre!
Mr Amyn Haji Says: “Constipation is commonplace during pregnancy. This is due to a sluggish digestive system caused by increased progesterone levels. As a result, there is a tendency to strain more when on the toilet, causing haemorrhoids. A high fibre diet has been known to help prevent and treat haemorrhoids by regulating digestion. By eating a variety of fruit, nuts, wholegrains, pulses, and vegetables, the digestive system will continue to function well, and stools should remain healthy.”
4. Give them a chance to disappear on their own...
Mr Amyn Haji Says: “Haemorrhoids can vary in severity however, in some cases they will disappear on their own within a few days, provided appropriate care is taken and a few simple steps to aid recovery are followed. To prevent haemorrhoids from worsening, drink plenty of fluids and purchase some over the counter medicines – there’s a variety of topical creams, lotions, and gels available. Avoid straining, use wet wipes instead of dry paper, and try dabbing the area instead of wiping.”
5. Talk to a medical professional...
Mr Amyn Haji says: “There has long been a sense of stigma around those who suffer from haemorrhoids, which unfortunately can lead to people feeling very self-conscious about the issue. As a result, many people are left misinformed and confused about what haemorrhoids are, and most importantly, how to get rid of them. It’s important to highlight that there is absolutely no reason for people to feel this way – they are a very common issue experienced by many women, so seeking professional medical help is always advisable if they are affecting your daily life.”
6. Seek treatment
Mr Amyn Haji says: “As haemorrhoids often improve or disappear with time, it is advisable for women to wait for a decent period after giving birth before having any type of procedure to remove them. However, if the problem continues long after childbirth and a permanent solution is required then there are some long-lasting and effective medical treatments available. We offer the Rafaelo Procedure to treat internal haemorrhoids specifically, using the established technology of radio frequency ablation, which gets to the root cause of the condition. The treatment lasts just 15 mins and requires minimal post-operative after-care. It is a walk-in walk-out procedure meaning there is no need for long hospital stays and patients can get back to their normal daily activities very soon after treatment."
Tagged in Pregnancy