There’s no need to be embarrassed if you think you have piles. While they don’t sound and look like the nicest thing ever, they’re really common and won’t affect your pregnancy
You’re pregnant, you’re waiting to meet the little person growing inside you and you definitely don’t want piles. But, unfortunately piles (or haemorrhoids, as they’re also known) are relatively common during pregnancy.
That doesn’t mean to say that they’ll stop you enjoying your pregnancy, as there are lots of ways that you can help ease the effects.
What is it?
Piles (also known as haemorrhoids) are inflamed veins that develop in or around the lower rectum and anus. They’re common during pregnancy because all of the hormones rushing around your body cause your veins to relax.
And the weight of your baby puts pressure on your veins, too.
What symptoms are there?
You’ll probably be able to feel the piles around your anus, as they’re really lumpy. This area may be itchy, ache or be sore – particularly when going you go to the toilet.
They shouldn’t cause too much pain, unless they bulge outside of your anus, which will cause the muscles to tighten around them.
‘They may bleed a little and they can make going to the toilet difficult or even painful,’ explains Jane Munro, from the Royal College of Midwives. You may notice some discharge and feel like your bowels are full even after going to the toilet.
How is it treated?
While you can’t instantly get rid of piles, there are lots of ways to ease the effects, including sticking to a healthy diet and lifestyle plan.
‘Eat plenty of food that is high in fibre, like wholemeal bread, fruit and vegetables,’ advises Jane. ‘Make sure you drink plenty of water to help prevent constipation, which can make piles worse.’
You should also avoid standing for long periods and exercise regularly to improve your circulation. Don’t worry about harming your baby doing this as there are plenty of safe ways that you can exercise safely while you’re pregnant.
‘Some people find it helpful to press a cloth wrung out in ice water against the piles, to soothe the pain,’ says Jane. ‘Unfortunately, you’ll need to push back in any piles that stick out using a lubricating jelly.’
When should a doctor be consulted?
If nothing seems to be easing your discomfort, see your GP who may prescribe medicines and ointments to can help soothe the inflammation.
Your piles should resolve themselves within a couple of weeks of you giving birth but see your GP if they don’t.