Haemorrhoids (Piles)


What are these?

These are varicose [swollen] veins, which can be internal [in the lower part of the rectum], and / or external [in and around the anal opening]. They can become enlarged and painful during pregnancy and may occasionally bleed as well.

What causes them?

The pregnancy hormones have a relaxing effect on smooth muscle, which includes the walls of veins. This lack of tone can cause the veins to become congested and enlarged. The incidence of haemorrhoids often increases towards the end of pregnancy, due to the weight of the baby. During labour itself, direct pressure from the babys head as it descends through the birth canal can cause haemorrhoids, even if they were not there beforehand.

What can I do about them?

Avoiding constipation is a major factor. Take regular exercise and avoid sitting for lengthy periods, as this will help improve the circulation.

There are several creams and ointments available which contain a local anaesthetic and are safe to use in pregnancy. These are best used in conjunction with medicine which helps to keep your stool soft so that you do not have to strain to open your bowels, so speak to your GP or midwife. After the birth, most piles will gradually resolve on their own.