Q&A: Are hemorrhoids during pregnancy normal?
I am 31 weeks pregnant with my first child. I beleive I have hemorrhoids which isn't the funnest thing to have. Yesterday when I used the restroom, I noticed a tiny spot of blood on the toilet paper. As I looked in the toilet I saw a streak of blood which worried me that something was wrong. This is the first time I have had any type of bleeding throughout my pregnancy. Please help me with this troubling situation. Are hemorrhoids during pregnancy normal?
No, hemorrhoids have a funny name but they are not funny! Or fun! Hemorrhoids are dilated veins at the opening of the rectum, similar to the varicose veins that can develop in the legs, but in a more unfortunate location. Anything that increases pressure in that area can predispose to hemorrhoids. Sitting all day, constipation, straining with defecation, and being pregnant are all culprits.
Hemorrhoids can cause itching or pain and you may notice a bump, but they can also bleed, particularly when hard stool comes past. It sounds like the bleeding was probably from the hemorrhoid, particularly if you had just moved your bowels. If you think the bleeding may have been vaginal, that has different implications and (after the first trimester) requires an immediate call to your obstetrical team.
Treatment for hemorrhoids involves avoiding constipation and soothing the area with a topical medication that contains hydrocortisone (like Anusol HC® or Preparation H® with HC). Other soothing treatments include pads like Tucks® that contain witch hazel, and warm soaks in the tub or a sitz bath. Wet wipes may be more comfortable than toilet paper. Stool softeners like docusate may help with too-hard stool, but fiber laxatives like Metamucil®, Citrucel®, or Benefiber® are probably more effective and better for you. Fiber laxatives really work best as a preventive, though. You may need to “empty out” first with Milk of Magnesia® or Senecot®, before going onto a daily fiber supplement.
Hemorrhoids are famous for getting worse before they get better, because pushing out a baby does involve a little straining and pressure. You may have the best luck really attending to treating hemorrhoids after the baby is out and you are working on getting your body back. Do talk to your doctor or midwife about your symptoms and what treatments will be best for you.