Piles or haemorrhoids are basically varicose veins – inflamed blood vessels – in and around the anal passage. They are very common during pregnancy. They usually appear as small lumps around the opening of the anus, often in the last few months of pregnancy, and are more common in veteran mums.
Straining when constipated can contribute to the development of piles or make them worse. They may also appear after all the pushing involved in a birth.
Haemorrhoids are often quite itchy, and can be painful. They may also bleed after a bowel motion. While piles may get worse before they get better, most will disappear, or decrease in size after the birth. Like varicose veins they may return in subsequent pregnancies.
- Avoid constipation. Drink at least 2 litres or 4 pints of fluid a day and follow our other tips (also on this page)
- Don’t strain when having a bowel movement. Placing your feet on a low foot- stool while on the toilet can make bowel motions easier and less painful.
- Apply pads soaked in witch hazel, or ice packs, to the haemorrhoids (or keep pads soaked in witch hazel in freezer),
- Mix 3 drops of geranium essential oil and 2 drops of lavender oil with 15 mls of KY jelly to use topically on veins or piles.
- An application of wet baking soda may take away the itch, or add some to your bath.
- Buy over the counter medicine, or ask your doctor to prescribe some medication for application. Sometimes it may be useful to use suppositories as well as cream for internal piles.
- Do pelvic floor exercises to improve circulation to the area.
- Keep the perineal area clean.
- Avoid standing for long periods.
- Take warm baths for 10 minutes each day (with a few drops of geranium oil if you like).
During labour and birth, lying on the side opposite your haemorrhoids can help. Delivering your baby in an all-fours position may help to reduce pressure on piles during the birth.