What to Do With Postpartum Hemorrhoids?

Postpartum hemorrhoids are a very common condition that's usually endured in silence due to the great amount of discomfort it causes.
What to Do With Postpartum Hemorrhoids?

Last update: 31 January, 2022

Postpartum hemorrhoids are one of the most common discomforts that women keep quiet about, mainly out of embarrassment. It’s a condition that’s located in a very intimate part of the body, which causes multiple discomforts and greatly affects the quality of life.

As soon as the diagnosis is received, it’s essential that the patient follows each and every one of the doctor’s instructions. Otherwise, it could compromise their health, complicate the condition, and delay recovery.

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids (or piles) are the product of inflammation and dilation of the veins in the rectal area. Their size can vary considerably: They can be the diameter of a pea or as large as a grape. Now, depending on their exact location, hemorrhoids can be:

  • Internal. If located just above the junction between the anus and the rectum.
  • External. If they’re located just below the junction between the anus and the rectum.
A woman sittinng on a toilet holding a roll of toilet paper.

Contrary to what you may think, postpartum hemorrhoids don’t appear at the time of delivery but long before delivery. In general, they usually cause some discomfort as early as the third trimester, but it’s true that their intensity increases after delivery.

In general, the effort involved in pushing during labor and the pressure exerted by the baby on the blood vessels in the pelvis are factors that predispose women to this condition. Both situations hinder adequate venous drainage and promote dilation of the rectal veins.

The causes of hemorrhoids

The causes of hemorrhoids can be very varied. Generally, they’re associated with situations that lead to an increase in pressure inside the abdomen and hinder adequate venous flow. Some of the most common causes of postpartum hemorrhoids are the following:

  • Constipation
  • Lifting too much weight during pregnancy
  • Repeated straining during bowel movements
  • Straining during childbirth

The most common postpartum discomforts caused by hemorrhoids are as follows: Pain, burning, itching, and a feeling of rectal fullness. However, you should avoid at all costs trying to relieve them with any measures that haven’t been recommended by your doctor.

A naked woman witting with a flower between her legs.

How to cope with postpartum hemorrhoids?

In order to properly cope with postpartum hemorrhoids, it will be essential to follow each and every one of your doctor’s instructions strictly. However, with regard to the measures to be carried out at home, the following should be taken into account:

  • Don’t manipulate the area with your hands or any other object.
  • Perform sitz baths with warm water and neutral soap to clean the area.
  • Under no circumstances should the area be rubbed to relieve itching.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber.
  • Maintain good hydration, with at least one and a half liters of water a day.
  • Practice an adequate exercise routine to avoid constipation.
  • Don’t dry with toilet paper. It is preferable to lightly dab with a clean towel or cotton.
  • Avoid using tight underwear and sanitary napkins.
  • If your doctor suggests it, you can take ibuprofen to relieve pain. However, the dosage and timing must be respected.
  • Go to the bathroom when you feel the urge to urinate/defecate. Don’t hold back for fear of pain. In the long run, the longer you wait, the more traumatic the recovery process will be.

The medical treatment of hemorrhoids

Treatment of hemorrhoids depends on the severity of the condition and the general condition of the patient. In most cases, hemorrhoids cause mild discomfort that can be relieved with conservative measures. Studies recommend the application of cortisone ointments in the anal region for a maximum of 7 to 10 days.

Similarly, in mild cases, the use of anti-hemorrhoidal creams and suppositories containing lidocaine is also useful. These can reduce pain and itching in the anal region. However, severe, recurrent and large hemorrhoids usually require ligation and certain surgical procedures for removal.

When to seek medical attention?

Postpartum hemorrhoids usually heal after a couple of days of home care. However, it’s best to seek medical attention if, after a week, the condition persists or intensifies. Similarly, heavy rectal bleeding, lightheadedness, and loss of consciousness usually require professional attention as soon as possible.

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  • Ansari, P. Hemorroides (almorranas). Manual MSD (Versión para público general).
  • Staroselsky, Arthur et al. “Hemorrhoids in pregnancy.” Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien vol. 54,2 (2008): 189-90.