What you need to know about piles in pregnancy
Understanding how piles in pregnancy can affect you and what you can do to help
At a glance
- Piles affect around 1 in 10 women during pregnancy
- It becomes more likely in the third trimester
- Piles poses no risk for your baby
What are piles?
Piles (also known by the medical term haemorrhoids) occur then the blood vessels in your lower rectum and anus become inflamed and swollen. When these vessels are swollen they’re likely to cause aggravation and may hang out of the anus after passing a stool.
Why are piles during pregnancy so common?
Anyone can be affected by piles, but you’re more likely to get them when pregnant due to the level of certain hormones in your body. In particular, the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the walls of your blood vessels making piles a lot more likely to occur.
The weight of your baby as it grows, putting more pressure on your veins, along with constipation, a common occurrence during pregnancy, also increases the likelihood of suffering from piles in pregnancy.
Symptoms of piles
With piles, the swollen vessels will become painful and uncomfortable, it’s possible they may hang down during or after passing a stool. Other symptoms include:
- Blood after passing a stool, often visible when wiping
- Itching around your bottom
- Feeling like your bowels are still full and need emptying
- Discharge of mucus after going to the loo
How to avoid getting piles in pregnancy
The good news is that despite it being a common occurrence during pregnancy there are steps you can take to avoid getting piles:
- Ensure you’re drinking enough fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated and constipated
- Eat a diet of food that is high in fibre, including fruit, veg and wholemeal bread
- Exercise regularly to help improve your circulation
- Don’t strain whilst on the loo, take your time or try again later after drinking some water or eating some food high in fibre
How to treat piles in pregnancy
If you have piles there’s a few things you can do to alleviate the symptoms:
- Place a towel of wrung ice cold water on the piles to relieve the pain and irritation around your bottom
- Carefully clean the area around your bottom after going to the loo. It might be easier to use moist toilet wipes rather than toilet tissue. It’ll also help to pat rather than wipe
- You can attempt to gently push the piles back into the rectum using a lubricating jelly or when in the bath or shower
You can also speak to your doctor or midwife who will be able to prescribe any ointments or medication to help soothe the symptoms that are safe to use during pregnancy.
Can piles harm my baby?
There’s no risk to your baby with piles. It’s a very common condition for women during pregnancy or labour and will often clear up in the days and weeks following the birth. If you’re concerned about the length of time you’ve had piles, speak to your doctor or midwife.