Today’s topic is something that may be a little taboo – we are going to talk about hemorrhoids after giving birth.
So, yes. This is a very common problem and nearly half of all people suffer from it at some point. It is especially common among pregnant women and women who have recently given birth.
However, despite being so common, there is not a lot of people talking openly about it. There seem to be a little discomfort and even shame when it comes to hemorrhoids. But we don’t care!
I myself have suffered a lot with hemorrhoids in both my pregnancies (struggling with it even now – at the time of this writing). Luckily I really don’t care how embarrassing the subject is and I am willing to tell you all about my experience with pregnancy and post pregnancy hemorrhoids.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Here you see hemorrhoids in different stages
Hemorrhoids are when blood vessels and skin tissue in or around the rectal opening become abnormally blood-filled and begin to bulge out.
These blood vessels can be found both inside and outside of the anal opening. So the problems can be either internal or superficial. Read more about the causes of hemorrhoids here.
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids:
- Itching around the intestinal opening
- Pain around the intestinal opening
- Blood on the toilet paper after those toilet visits
- Bulges around the rectal opening
- Leakage of stool or mucus
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Why do we get hemorrhoids?
Those bulges from blood vessels in the intestine often come from pushing too hard. This is fairly common, for example, in a constipation when it can be difficult to empty the bowels.
What happens is that the pressure on the blood vessels becomes too high and as a result the blood vessels begin to bulge outwards.
Once you have had hemorrhoids, the risks of getting it again are actually greater.
If the hemorrhoids are due to constipation, they can be prevented by eating a more high-fiber diet or using anticoagulants.
However, when hemorrhoids are due to pregnancy or childbirth, it is more difficult to prevent.
I know, right? As if we didn’t already have it tough enough as it is.
Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy
Before we discuss hemorrhoids from childbirth, it can also be good to mention that problems can actually already arise during pregnancy.
I myself had a little problem towards the end of my last pregnancy, as it is common to get a little hard in the stomach.
What you should try to avoid at all costs is to press the hardest you can when you go to the toilet (even if it is exactly what you want).
So, as the uterus grows during pregnancy, the blood pressure in the lower part of the body becomes higher. This happens because that extra blood that is in the body accumulates in the uterus.
With higher blood pressure in the region, the tension on the blood vessels increases, which increases the risk of hemorrhoids.
In addition, the pressure increases further when you are pregnant and standing up, as the extra body weight in itself creates a tension against the lower body.
Hemorrhoids during pregnancy can usually be treated in the same way as after childbirth (more on that later in the post), but in some cases they remain until childbirth and then disappear shortly thereafter.
Now we know that hemorrhoids are due to high pressure, it is quite self-explanatory why hemorrhoids occur during a vaginal birth. All that pushing hard to get the baby out is exactly causes that pressure that leads to postpartum hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are a common complication during childbirth, about one-third of all women who give birth vaginally suffer from hemorrhoids. The risk of being affected is especially higher if the baby is big or if you have also suffered from stretch marks during pregnancy.
If you or your midwife notices that you have suffered from hemorrhoids while you are still in the hospital, make sure to ask for some advice about what treatment is best suited for you.
Unfortunately, there is not much one can do to prevent it, although some claim that drinking plenty of water before childbirth can reduce the risk.
How to get rid of hemorrhoids? Well, there are actually several types of treatments to try.
In normal cases, the will hemorrhoids go away on their own after a few weeks, but if you want, there are actually a few things you can do to make the whole thing a little easier on your recovering body.
For example, you can find over-the-counter creams and pills in any pharmacy that can make the hemorrhoids go away faster.
There are several types of treatments to test for hemorrhoids, different ointments may be an option.
Something that can alleviate the problems with itching and pain is to gently try to poke back the hemorrhoid and pinch around it. This along with some over-the-counter ointments are the quickest and easiest ways to get some immediate relief and treat hemorrhoids at home yourself.
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How long do you have hemorrhoids after childbirth?
It can be difficult to know how long it takes for postpartum hemorrhoids to go away. They usually heal after a couple of weeks, but if you also have more complications from the birth, it can actually take longer.
It is important that you talk to your physician or your midwife during return visits that you have been affected so they can give you help and further advice.
What to do with painful hemorrhoids
In some cases, the hemorrhoids become extremely painful. They can become hard and impossible to “poke back”, and the pain eventually begins to really take a toll on your mood.
If you have major problems with doing everyday things such as sitting on hard surfaces, standing, walking or have too much pain, you should seek help.
A doctor can check that nothing unexpected has happened to the hemorrhoids, and they can also arrange a referral to a surgeon who can remove the hemorrhoids in most extreme cases, so you avoid the pain.
Xylocaine can help relieve pain in hemorrhoids.
If you feel that the pain is still bearable but have problems when visiting the toilet, there are over-the-counter painkillers to use.
Xylocaine is a cream that you can apply around the bowel opening before going to the toilet to reduce the pain. Ask your pharmacist for help against hemorrhoids, and at the same time mention that you are newly delivered and if you are breastfeeding, they can give the best possible advice.
BL: I love Peruvian food. Everything from the ceviche to rice and beans, all of the flavors. It has so much depth.
My Experience With Hemorrhoids
I got some pretty severe hemorrhoids after the birth, so bad that I had a hard time sitting for 2-3 weeks afterwards.
One thing I recommend is to ask your physician or your midwife for help right after labor. Ask them to have a look and asses the situation right away if there had been any complications down there.
If things do not look good, you should get your hands on as much ointment as you possibly can. Trust me, you will be so busy with your little one, the last thing you want is to limp to the pharmacy to buy hemorrhoid cream!
The most difficult part was how difficult it was for me to breastfeed while sitting. I had to get creative in finding positions that did not hurt! I was mostly laying down to breastfeed. It was tricky to find a comfortable position which was also safe for the baby, but it worked out fine in the end.
Eventually I was able to sit on a pillow and breastfeed. But that was not an easy transition as it would still hurt if I sit for too long even with a pillow. This time I already got a proper hemorrhoid cushion. It is too frustrating to not be able to sit for weeks. So I think it is completely worth it.
You can find the Hemorrhoid Pillow I got from Amazon here.
Another thing is that it is hard to wipe your behind like you normally do. So, beware… you will be taking a lot of showers.
When you feel it is getting a little bit better, then you can transition to baby wipes and baby oil. These are softer and do not rub against the discomfort when you dry yourself. Bottom line is, you probably won’t be using regular toilet paper for a few weeks after you give birth.
I hope you were able to take some comfort from this post. I think the most important thing is that you know that you are not alone, that there is help to be had and that it will pass in the end! You will be fully recovered enjoying your little piece of love sooner than you think.
Hopefully you now have more general idea what hemorrhoids are and how to treat them in connection with childbirth. Even if the subject is taboo, it is important to talk about it so you can go through this knowing that what you are feeling is hard but it is common and that it does get better. If something feels wrong or if the pain persists, it is very important that you contact your physician right away. Stay strong and congratulations for being an amazing mom.