Haemorrhoids are a pretty common and natural part of life. In fact, around 50% of adults will have experienced haemorrhoids for themselves by the time they turn 50.
These pesky little lumps are especially after women give birth and are in the postpartum period. It's not exactly a pleasant experience, but it's a common one, affecting around 43% of all women after birth.
If you're worried this is happening to you - don't fret.
Haemorrhoids are easily relieved and treated, especially when you can recognise the kinds of symptoms to look out for.
Here's everything you need to know about haemorrhoids, including how to treat and soothe them.
What are postpartum haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids – also known as ‘piles’ or varicose veins of the anal passage – are swollen and inflamed veins in the rectum and anal passage that can cause bleeding, pain and discomfort.
You may suspect you have haemorrhoids if you can feel sensitive lumps form near the anal area, or if bleeding occurs during bowel movements.
Symptoms can include:
- Rectal itching
- Anal fissures
If you're experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding, or increased bleeding, you should see your healthcare provider.
What causes postpartum haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids generally are caused by increased pressure on the rectum and can occur when a weakness in the side of the anal canal results in a thinning of the lining and enlargement of the veins.
Simply put, they are a pain in the butt!
Veins have valves to facilitate blood flow toward the heart.
When these are weakened for whatever reason (say, after giving birth), blood can pool in the veins and result in swelling, causing varicose veins.
They are very common after a vaginal birth due as a result of pushing.
Furthermore, when the baby is in utero, it adds extra pressure to the rectum area as the baby adds extra weight to the abdomen and pelvic region.
Because of this, haemorrhoids can develop both during and after birth.
How to tell if you have postpartum haemorrhoids
Many women will experience postpartum haemorrhoids; they are incredibly common during pregnancy and after giving birth.
One study found that of 280 women who had given birth, 43% experienced postpartum haemorrhoids.
Another study found that two-thirds of pregnant women have anal symptoms, such as pain, bleeding, swelling and discomfort, during pregnancy and postpartum, especially haemorrhoidal complications and anal fissure.
So, how can you tell if you are experiencing postpartum haemorrhoids?
Well, any discomfort in the rectum region would suggest probable haemorrhoids.
Also, any symptoms of itching, pain, burning and bleedings point to the condition too.
The best way to be sure is to see your doctor.
Treating postpartum haemorrhoids
If you develop hemorrhoids after birth, treating them is an essential part of postpartum care.
Mums need all the energy they can get, and no doubt a constant pain in the bum would take it out of anyone, let alone a mother with a newborn.
It's important to relieve pressure and decrease the painful swelling of the enlarged veins to avoid further discomfort and help yourself along the road to recovery.
For treatment of postpartum haemorrhoids, the first point of call is to see your doctor for their advice and guidance.
Your healthcare professional may prescribe stool softeners, topical medications or haemorrhoid creams to alleviate swelling and ease any pain and discomfort when passing a bowel movement.
Then, there are some home treatment options that may help soothe symptoms and offer pain relief, such as bathing in warm water and applying creams.
A sitz bath is a warm, shallow pool of water that helps to cleanse and soothe the genital and rectum area.
Although you can have a sitz bath with just warm water, some additions, such as sitz salts, can help to soothe pain or itchiness and create a more calming effect.
Kin Fertility’s Sitz Salts (which also can be bought with a tub) are designed particularly to relieve tender and sensitive skin during pregnancy and postpartum.
It’s a super simple solution, made from natural ingredients like Epsom Salts, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and Witch Hazel, made specifically to relieve pregnancy aches itchy stretched skin, haemorrhoids and/or a torn perineum.
Our formula is also vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free. It costs just $30 for a 500g tub.
Postpartum recovery treatment
Postpartum recovery treatments, such as soothing pads and healing foam can help you heal after birth and relieve discomfort in the genital and rectum region.
Kin’s Postpartum Recovery Kit, for example, includes an ergonomically designed peri bottle to cleanse, mesh panties for breathability and comfort, soothing padsicles that cool and ice the area, and healing foam with Witch Hazel, designed to soothe, restore and help heal the area.
Ice packs or padsicles
Ice packs wrapped in a clean cotton towel can help to alleviate symptoms and proved temporary relief.
Place the cold bundle on the rectum area and haemorrhoids in 15-minute intervals to reduce swelling and soothe the area with coolness.
For even easier and more hygienic relief, you can also use Kin's Soothing Padsicles.
With instant crack-and-cool technology, our Padsicles double as absorbent pads to help soak up blood and discharge after birth.
Consider your diet
Postpartum constipation can worsen haemorrhoids by putting extra strain and pressure on the veins in the rectum area.
One study found that the most pressing risk factor for anal pain and haemorrhoids postpartum was constipation.
Also to note, pregnancy constipation is also very common.
For easier bowel movements, it’s all about food consumption.
Opt for fibre-rich foods, such as beans, berries, avocado, apples, bananas, carrots, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, chickpeas, oats, almonds, chia seeds and lentils.
A diet rich in fibre draws water into your stool, making your poops softer and easier to pass.
If you need a little extra, you may also consider adding a fibre supplement or stool softener, which can work from the inside out to help to relieve pain and alleviate swollen veins.
As with any new medication or supplement, talk these through with your doctor.
Avoiding constipation, especially in the first few weeks after a vaginal delivery, is key for your own comfort and healing.
Lastly, drink plenty of water, avoid straining, and if you're concerned about your diet, see a healthcare provider.
Some products may help with alleviating haemorrhoid symptoms, such as Witch Hazel (a key ingredient in Kin's Healing Foam and Sitz Salts) and soothing creams.
Witch Hazel can be applied to cotton balls or pads and then applied to the anal region to cool and soothe. Haemorrhoid creams may also offer short-term relief and reduce pain.
However, as with any over-the-counter remedy, you should talk to your doctor first before starting a new treatment.
Sit on a pillow
Sitting on pillows or padded rings can also help with postpartum haemorrhoids. After birth, the genital area is tender and sensitive, and any added pressure can cause further discomfort.
This is where using a peri bottle to clean the area over toilet paper can also help.
How long do postpartum haemorrhoids last after birth
Fortunately, the answer to ‘Can they go away on their own?’ is yes!
Postpartum haemorrhoids tend to resolve on their own at around six weeks, however, symptoms should decrease within days or fewer weeks before that.
When should you be concerned about postpartum haemorrhoids?
If you experience continued symptoms that are causing you concern, such as prolonged bleeding, pain and swelling, then head to your doctor’s office.
Your doctor is always the best point of call when it comes to any problems your experiencing, included mental stress associated with the symptoms.
A doctor or healthcare provider may also recommend medical procedures to remove or shrink the haemorrhoids if they are not decreasing on their own.