After Delivery Haemorrhoids
Your body goes through a lot during labour, and it’s natural to experience some physical and/or emotional discomfort in the first few weeks after giving birth. The good news is that the majority of these conditions are easily remedied and usually don’t last very long if properly treated.
Read on to find out more about four of the most common conditions experienced after delivery – from haemorrhoids, or piles, after birth to vaginal bleeding – and how to cure them.
Postpartum haemorrhoids (piles after birth)
It’s perfectly normal not to have a bowel movement for a few days after giving birth.
However, having haemorrhoids after pregnancy is very common, with one study finding that 43% of women developed piles after birth. Haemorrhoids are lumps caused by swollen veins in or around the anus. It’s possible to develop them following delivery regardless of whether or not you experienced them during your pregnancy.
You can have both internal and external haemorrhoids after birth – internal haemorrhoids form inside the rectum, whereas external ones develop around the opening of the anus.
In the majority of cases, haemorrhoids disappear on their own within a few days after giving birth. However, it can take a few weeks in some cases.
How long do piles last after birth?
How long piles last after birth will depend on factors such as the size, location, and severity of the haemorrhoids. If they last longer than a few weeks, you should speak to your doctor.
In the meantime, there are several remedies you can try to help alleviate your symptoms and get rid of piles after pregnancy, as well as haemorrhoids after birth treatment you can use.
Causes piles after birth
Haemorrhoids are caused by pressure on the veins in the rectum or anus, which causes the valves inside to weaken and allows blood to pool within the veins. This, in turn, leads to swelling.
When pregnant, the additional weight of the baby on your pelvis can add extra pressure on this area, increasing the likelihood of developing haemorrhoids. During labour – in particular vaginal deliveries – the intense pressure of pushing can also exacerbate or cause piles after birth.
In addition, when pregnant, your body produces more of the hormone progesterone, which causes veins to relax.
What are the symptoms of piles after delivery?
There are a number of different symptoms of piles after delivery. Some are more severe than others, and you may experience any number of them. The most common symptoms of a postpartum hemorrhoid include:
- Itching around the anus
- Pain or soreness around the anus
- Swelling or lumps around the anus (it might look as though a pink pea is sticking out)
- Bleeding bright red blood during bowel movements
- A slimy mucus on the toilet paper after defecating
- Feeling as though you still need to defecate after going to the toilet
How do you get rid of piles after pregnancy?
The good news is that although piles after birth can be irritating and painful, there are a number of home remedies for postpartum haemorrhoids which can help you to feel more comfortable.
Firstly, it can be useful to follow the advice for constipation listed above because the two conditions are often linked.
To get rid of piles after pregnancy, the following at-home haemorrhoids after birth treatment ideas can be very effective:
- Keep the area around your anus clean and dry
- Hold an ice pack wrapped in a clean towel against your haemorrhoids to ease pain or discomfort. A cloth soaked in ice water is a more flexible alternative
- After going to the toilet, use moist toilet paper instead of dry, and pat gently rather than rubbing
- Avoid straining because this can make postpartum piles worse
- Lie down rather than sitting where possible in order to reduce pressure on your bottom
- Take a warm bath to ease any itching or pain
- If necessary, gently push the postpartum haemorrhoid back inside your body (a lubricating jelly can make this easier)
- Sit on a pillow or similar rather than a hard surface for comfort
Depending on the severity of your piles after birth, you might also want to take some medication to treat your symptoms. Painkillers can be useful if you’re experiencing a lot of discomfort or have had an anal fissure after birth, and there are also creams that can soothe the inflammation.
Some of these are available over the counter at your local chemist. Alternatively, you could speak to your doctor about prescription medications.
If you have especially severe pain, are bleeding heavily, notice pus leaking from your postpartum haemorrhoid, or your piles after pregnancy are large or purple, you should speak to your doctor immediately.
There are a number of surgical and non-surgical hemorrhoids after birth treatment options they can recommend. These include sclerotherapy, electrotherapy, infrared coagulation, as well as surgery to cut out your postpartum piles or staple them back inside your anus.
Constipation after birth
It’s perfectly normal not to have a bowel movement for a few days after giving birth. However, some women find that they become constipated for a longer time in the first six weeks or so following delivery.
This condition is characterised by infrequent or difficult bowel movements and can happen regardless of whether or not you experienced constipation during your pregnancy.
It’s also common in women who suffer from a haemorrhoid after birth because of a reluctance to use the toilet due to fear that defecating will cause pain.
There are many different reasons why you might suffer from constipation after delivery. These include dehydration, hormonal changes which can slow bowel function, and the side effects of pain medication you may have been given during labour.
In addition, if you suffered an anal fissure after birth, had an episiotomy, or experienced tearing during the delivery, the resulting pain – or fear of it – may be preventing you from going to the toilet normally.
What remedies are there to treat postpartum constipation?
There are plenty of simple changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle in order to help prevent or treat constipation after delivery. Many of these tips are also helpful if you’re suffering from piles after birth because straining can make a postpartum hemorrhoid worse:
- Drink lots of water (aim for eight to ten glasses a day)
- Increase the amount of fibre in your diet, for example, by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain pasta, brown rice, and pulses such as lentils or chickpeas
- Snack on dried fruit like apricots and prunes
- Add linseed, oats, and wheat bran to your diet
- Start your day with a warm drink
- Cut back on dairy products, such as milk and cheese
- Try to stay active during the day, for example, by taking regular walks, to encourage the muscles in your digestive system to get more active too
- Prop your feet up on a low stool or similar when on the toilet, or raise your knees above your hips if possible, to make it easier to have a bowel movement
- Use the bathroom as soon as you feel the need to because delaying it can be one of the causes of constipation
If you find that the above suggestions don’t cure your postpartum constipation, it might be helpful to try taking a gentle laxative or a fibre supplement.
Remember not to strain or push too hard when on the toilet because this can have the unwelcome side effect of causing piles after birth (see below).
If you’ve had stitches, it’s very unlikely that you will rip them by using the toilet. However, it can be helpful to hold a clean pad of tissue over them when you do for extra reassurance.
After delivery FAQs
What after-delivery symptoms should I be concerned about?
Your body goes through a lot of changes during and after pregnancy, and the majority of symptoms that you experience will be mild. Having said that, there are a few more serious signs to be on the lookout for. If you experience any of the following, contact your doctor:
- Extreme soreness or pain
- Constipation that won’t go away
- Very uncomfortable or worsening piles after birth
- Heavy bleeding (either vaginal or anal)
- Large clots during vaginal bleeding
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Pain in your chest or difficulty breathing
- Swelling, redness, or pain in the calf of one leg (this could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis)
- Severe headaches, vomiting and/or vision problems (these can be signs of pre-eclampsia)
How do I treat an anal fissure after birth?
Straining during childbirth can result in an anal fissure, which is a small tear or cut in the lining of the anus. The most common symptoms of an anal fissure after birth are sharp pain and bleeding when using the toilet.
Many of the ways to ease these symptoms are similar to those discussed above for treating constipation and piles after birth, such as staying hydrated, eating plenty of fibre, keeping active, and not ignoring the need to defecate. If you’re in a lot of pain, don’t be embarrassed to book an appointment with your doctor.
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