How To Deal With Hemorrhoids After Birth

It’s common for women to develop hemorrhoids during pregnancy and after childbirth, especially when they have a vaginal delivery. However, you can still develop hemorrhoids after a C-section. 

Hemorrhoids are common in pregnancy and childbirth due to constipation and the extra pressure your pregnancy puts on the anus, rectum, and blood circulation.

Some women may notice they started to develop hemorrhoids in the weeks before their baby's delivery. Regardless of when the hemorrhoids occurred, finding an effective remedy is important.  

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Overview of hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are enlarged or inflamed veins that appear as swollen lumps in the anus and rectum. Hemorrhoids can be external or internal. 

External hemorrhoids

External hemorrhoids occur in the anus. They appear as swollen red or purple lumps under the skin. 

The symptoms of external hemorrhoids are:

  • Itching around the anus

  • Hard and tender lumps around the anus

  • Anal pain when sitting or going to the toilet

Internal hemorrhoids

Internal hemorrhoids differ from external hemorrhoids since they’re inside the body, deeper in the rectum. Due to their different location, the symptoms are slightly different. 

Symptoms of internal hemorrhoids are:

  • Bright red bleeding from the anus after a bowel movement (pooping)

  • Typically painless unless they prolapse and strangulate (when internal hemorrhoid bulges out of the anus and the blood supply cuts off) 

Postpartum hemorrhoids 

Postpartum hemorrhoids are hemorrhoids that form after childbirth. Some women develop hemorrhoids during their pregnancy, especially in the weeks leading up to delivery. 

Up to 85% of pregnant women deal with hemorrhoids, so it's not uncommon. Still, many women worry about treating these hemorrhoids.¹

Since many hemorrhoid treatments require over-the-counter medications or topical creams, it's understandable why many women are concerned. After all, as with any medication, it may pose a risk to your unborn baby, or it might not be safe to use while breastfeeding. 

It's always best to obtain your treatment from your doctor or pharmacist. That way, you can double-check with them to ensure it's safe for your baby. 

Causes of postpartum hemorrhoids

The primary cause of postpartum hemorrhoids is the enlarging uterus: 

  • Changing your blood vessels

  • Increasing pressure in your abdomen

  • Compressing the rectum, leading to constipation and straining

A 2022 study found various other factors associated with postpartum hemorrhoids. This include:²

  • Constipation during pregnancy 

  • History of perianal disease 

  • Instrumental delivery 

  • Straining during delivery for more than 20 minutes 

  • Giving birth to a baby who weighs more than 8lbs 6oz (3.8kg)

Symptoms of postpartum hemorrhoids 

The symptoms of postpartum hemorrhoids are similar to those of regular internal or external hemorrhoids. 

These include: 

  • Pain

  • Rectal itching

  • Bleeding after a bowel movement

  • Swelling around the anus

External hemorrhoids also can commonly thrombose (become blocked by a blood clot) during pregnancy and after childbirth, which can cause severe and sudden pain. 

Although hemorrhoid symptoms can negatively affect your quality of life, they are treatable. Pregnant women tend to have good access to healthcare, including obstetric gynecologists (OB/GYNs), who will understand postpartum hemorrhoid symptoms and how to manage them. 

Treatments and remedies 

Recommended treatments and lifestyle changes include:

  • Laxatives or stool softeners (to reduce straining) 

  • Increasing the fiber content in your diet 

  • Maintaining healthy toilet habits 

Healthy toilet habits include:

  • Not delaying trips to the bathroom

  • Avoiding sitting on the toilet for too long

  • Avoiding straining when passing stool 

Experts also state that topical treatments for hemorrhoids (creams or gels) have not been assessed for safety in pregnancy; however, as they’re topical, your body is unlikely to absorb much of the treatment.

It’s best to consult your doctor or pharmacist before trying any of these options. 

If your hemorrhoids require surgery, your doctor will consider this decision carefully. Since some surgical procedures can be pretty invasive, your doctor may avoid surgery until it’s safe to do so after childbirth or lactation. 

Home remedies

One home remedy you can try is a sitz bath. A sitz bath is a warm tub of water that you sit in to soak the hemorrhoids. You can add Epsom salt to the sitz bath, but this is optional. 

Another home remedy is a small ice pack. Ensure you wrap it with a cloth or paper towel before applying it to the area to avoid the risk of ice burns. 

When to see a doctor 

If your hemorrhoids persist for longer than one week, it’s best to seek advice from your doctor. If the swelling or pain worsens before then, don’t hesitate to seek help. 

Can postpartum hemorrhoids be prevented? 

Unfortunately, it can be challenging to avoid postpartum hemorrhoids entirely. That’s because there’s increased intra-abdominal pressure on the anus and rectum during pregnancy. 

If you have a history of hemorrhoids or perianal disease, mention this to your doctor in case they can offer further advice or assistance. 

Generally, some things you can do to avoid hemorrhoids include:

  • Increasing fiber in your diet or taking a fiber supplement

  • Avoiding constipation

  • Taking a stool softener 

  • Avoiding straining during bowel movements 

  • Avoiding sitting on the toilet for extended periods

The lowdown

Postpartum hemorrhoids refer to hemorrhoids that occur after childbirth. However, it's also possible to experience hemorrhoids during your pregnancy. These types of hemorrhoids may persist for some time after the birth of your baby, as it takes time for your body to recover. It’s a good idea to speak to your doctor to find out which treatment options are suitable for you. 

People also ask

How long do postpartum hemorrhoids last?

For most women, the problem resolves shortly after birth. In some cases, hemorrhoids may persist for weeks unless you seek treatment. 

How can you get rid of postpartum hemorrhoids?

While the problem may resolve itself, you can try several treatments if the hemorrhoids don’t go away. For example, stool softeners or laxatives may help. 

Can hemorrhoids be permanent after childbirth? 

If you have a history of hemorrhoids or perianal disease, you may have recurring hemorrhoids. However, when the same hemorrhoids persist, see a doctor for further treatment and advice.

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