how to treat piles in pregnancy

As a mum-to-be with a growing baby bump, you'll notice your body changing in lots of exciting, and some not-so-exciting, ways. One common, uncomfortable side effect of pregnancy you might experience is piles, or haemorrhoids. Around ten per cent of expectant mums go through this before their third trimester rolls around, so don't worry – you're not alone.

why do pregnant women get piles?

Piles occur when the soft blood vessels between your anus and your rectum become swollen, and can hang down during or after you poo.

Hormones like progesterone – which you release more regularly throughout your pregnancy – relax these veins, which means the ones on your bottom, especially around your anus, can become enlarged and slightly swollen.

Also, your growing baby is making your veins work harder than usual, which slightly increases the chances of getting piles. Constipation – another common condition in pregnancy – can also bring on the haemorrhoids.

what are the symptoms?

If you think you may have developed piles, here is a small list of symptoms to look out for:

  • the swelling may feel lumpy
  • the affected areas may ache or itch
  • haemorrhoids can occasionally bleed
  • your bowels may feel as though they’re full
  • it hurts when you do a number two
  • there is a mucus discharge after going to the toilet

can i avoid piles in pregnancy?

There may not be any failsafe methods of keeping the piles at bay, but you can take a few measures to reduce your chances of them developing:

  • drink plenty of water to avoid getting dehydrated and constipated
  • go for walks to improve your circulation
  • eat lots of fibrous food like wholemeal bread, healthy cereal and fruit and veg
  • don’t push too hard while on the loo; try putting your feet on a stool, which may make it easier for you to open your bowels
  • when you need to go, go – don’t hold it in
  • pelvic floor exercises can really help – not only do they make it easier to go the loo, but they also boost your circulation

how can i treat my piles?

We know that pregnancy already gives you a lot of aches and pains to deal with, without having to add piles to the list too! There are a couple of steps you can follow to treat your haemorrhoids:

  • dip a towel into ice-cold water and wring it out before gently placing it on the piles
  • it is possible to carefully push the piles back into the rectum, while you’re in the shower or taking a bath, with the help of a lubricating jelly
  • after going to the loo, make sure you gently clean the affected area. Normal toilet tissues may be too rough, so use wet wipes instead – it may be more comfortable to pat rather than wipe
  • have a chat with your pharmacist, GP or midwife to get some suggestions for medications and soothing ointments

what about after i’ve given birth?

A few weeks after giving birth to your little one, you'll usually find that your haemorrhoids – which pose absolutely no risk to your baby – will have cleared up. For further expert reassurance, check in with your GP or midwife.

If your piles make it difficult to sit down after giving birth then try using a handy inflatable valley cushion.