That other thing you brought back from the hospital
Unforeseen side effects on your journey to motherhood #103…
“Hemorrhoids” are that one awkward topic that woman kin have no shame in bringing up to total strangers. No one blinks an eye when a new mom takes 5 to 10 minutes to sit down in her seat with her trusty doughnut pillow. “You got the Hemorrhoids, aye?” let’s talk.
Hemorrhoids have plagued men/women from the earliest days. From ancient Babylonian kings to Napoleon Bonaparte. The itching, swelling, burning discomfort, and sometimes bleeding, can lead to severe discomfort and irritable behavior. Although hemorrhoids affect both men and women, they are in fact quite common during pregnancy and affect up to 50% of all pregnant women.
Hemorrhoids (Piles) are varicose veins of the rectum that have become swollen and engorged with blood. They vary in size and may appear as internal hemorrhoids (harder to see), or external hemorrhoids (right out there in the open).
It’s not you, its nature. As it applies to mothers, Hemorrhoids usually happen as a result of extreme pressure; whether from carrying extra weight (pregnancy), or straining the surrounding muscles (pushing too hard). In fact many new mothers do not have any sign of hemorrhoid discomfort until days/weeks after labor, most likely obtained during the pushing process. To make things worse, many women take pre-natal pills during pregnancy and continue through the breast feeding phase. Prenatal pills are known to create constipation and harder stools making it more difficult to pass a bowel movement without straining.
Pregnant women also have higher levels of relaxin, which helps loosen the muscles and ligaments of the pelvis to assist in growth and childbirth. Relaxin also affects the veins and capillaries, making the vein walls of the rectum looser and more susceptible to retaining fluid. Relaxin can remain in your system for up to a year after childbirth and throughout breastfeeding.
Hemorrhoid help for pre-natal or postpartum moms…
If you are pregnant or just had a baby and notice pain during bowel movements and/or feel swelling near your anus, you might have hemorrhoids. Here are some tips to ease any discomfort while the hemorrhoids heal:
✔ Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time
✔ Soak in a warm tub or “sitz” bath
✔ Apply chilled witch hazel pads to the affected area
✔ Your health care provider might recommend an over the counter topical hemorrhoid medication for temporary relief
✔ Drink lots of water and maintain a high fiber diet to avoid constipation and strain during bowel movements
✔ Avoid any activities that involve penetration of the rectum
✔ Your physician may suggest stool softeners to assist with passing bowels after labor
If your Hemorrhoids do not go away or if symptoms become severe, there are surgical solutions available such as:
- Rubber band ligation- in which a rubber band is placed around the base of the hemorrhoid
- Sclerotherapy- injection of a chemical solution around the blood vessel to shrink it.
- Infrared light coagulation- Heat created by the infrared light cause scar tissue, which cuts off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid.
- Hemorrhoidectomy – occasionally recommended for extensive or severe hemorrhoids to remove them completely.
Always, always, always check with your doctor to decide the best therapy for you.
Good luck, and be sure to pass this information along to the next unsuspecting total stranger.