What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen, enlarged veins in the rectum. They’re very common during pregnancy and after childbirth. In fact, almost half of new mothers report symptoms at 4 weeks postpartum. They are also more common after vaginal deliveries than cesarean deliveries.
Hemorrhoids can be internal (usually painless) or external (can be very painful). They typically go away on their own by 6 weeks postpartum. However, with treatment, the pain and swelling should decrease dramatically within a few days.
What are the risk factors for hemorrhoids?
Risk factors for hemorrhoids during pregnancy or after childbirth include:
- Urinary incontinence during pregnancy
- Personal history of hemorrhoids
- Birthweight of newborn > 3800g (8.4lb)
- Straining during delivery for more than 20 minutes
If constipation is causing your hemorrhoids, treating that will help the hemorrhoids heal. To relieve constipation:
- Increase your dietary fiber intake
- Drink more water
- Take a stool softener
To relieve any pain and itching from hemorrhoids, here are some things you can do at home:
- Sitz baths. Also helpful for pain from perineal tearing, a sitz bath is a basin (you can also use a bathtub with a small amount of water) where you sit to soak your bottom in warm water and epsom salts. The recommendation is 2-4 times a day for 10-15 minutes.
- Witch hazel. Apply witch hazel to the hemorrhoids to cool and soothe. You can apply with cotton balls, or buy pre-soaked pads like Tucks pads.
- Hemorrhoid creams. There are over-the-counter creams, ointments, and sprays designed to provide short-term relief.
- Hemor-rite and Anuice or a bag of crushed ice can be used to get immediate relief from pain and swelling.
If the pain does not go away within a few days, contact your healthcare provider.