Haemorrhoids are a normal and common complaint during pregnancy and after giving birth, especially after vaginal deliveries. They’re swollen veins inside your rectum or around your anus, and usually caused by increased pressure on your lower rectum.
Ranging in size from a pea to a grape, haemorrhoids can be internal or external. Signs that you might have them include rectal bleeding when you have bowel movement, rectal itching, and pain.
Depending on their size, severity, and location, haemorrhoids can go away on their own, which could take from a few days to several weeks. One of the biggest contributors is constipation, as well as pushing and straining during labour and delivery.
There are several things you can do to speed up the healing process whilst reducing the discomfort.
How to deal with postpartum haemorrhoids
- Add more dietary fibre into your diet Try to eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. This helps to soften your stool, making it easier to pass.
- Drink plenty of water Staying hydrated helps to reduce constipation. If your urine is dark yellow, it’s time to increase the amount of fluids.
- Avoid straining To reduce pressure to your rectal area when you’re on the toilet, avoid any pushing, bearing down, or straining.
- Keep the area clean Rather than using toilet paper to wipe, which can add pressure and irritation, use a peri bottle. It’s design for spritzing water to the area.
- Soak the area To prevent any further irritation, use warm water or a ‘sitz bath’ as often as you can throughout the day, soaking for 10 minutes or more each time.
- Soothe the discomfort Witch hazel, applied with cotton balls, is fantastic for reducing swelling and fighting bacteria. You can spray some in your padsicle, adult nappy, maternity pad, or alongside the peri bottle when you’re cleansing your sensitive areas.
- Reduce swelling with ice Wrap an ice pack in cloth, or make your own ‘padsicles’ by chilling some sanitary pads in the freezer.
- Avoid sitting or standing for long periods Reduce the pressure on your veins by lying down when you’re breastfeeding or resting.
- Do your pelvic floor exercises These exercises also help to strengthen the muscles around your rectum.
- Try to gentle movement Speak to your GP before you do any exercise, but once you’re able to, even a short walk each day will help to boost your energy levels and circulation.
When to see your doctor about postpartum haemorrhoids
If your symptoms don’t start to improve after trying these home remedies for a week, or if you experience any bleeding, pain, or a haemorrhoid has become hard, make an appointment with your doctor for additional treatment. It can be an embarrassing topic, but getting treatment can put an end to the discomfort and avoid any further complications.
If you’re considering using any over-the-counter medications, such as stool softeners, supplements, creams, or wipes, speak to your healthcare professional first, particularly if you’re breastfeeding.