What could cause rectal bleeding during pregnancy?
Rectal bleeding can be caused by hemorrhoids, commonly called “piles”. Piles occur in the space that joins your rectum to your anus (anal canal).
Piles can become itchy and cause you to feel uncomfortable, but they shouldn't cause you any pain.
Among other known causes of rectal bleeding is a fissure, or a small tear, in the anal canal. This type of fissure can cause you a lot of pain and some women have been found to suffer from both an anal fissure and piles.
Constipation is one of the main causes for anal fissures, and during pregnancy, they tend to worsen.
Is rectal bleeding common in women going through pregnancy?
Bleeding from the anus is a bit common when reaching the end of the last trimester of pregnancy:
Around 1 out of 4 women gets piles by the end of the third trimester
Around 1 out of 100 women can develop anal fissures in late pregnancy
Anal fissures are a lot more common after the first pregnancy – one in seven women has one!
Piles or an anal fissure won’t affect your baby. It’s very rare that rectal bleeding means there’s a problem during pregnancy. Regardless, just like with any bleeding during pregnancy, you should always tell your doctor or midwife about it. Then, they will be able to figure out the cause.
Is there anything I can do to stop rectal bleeding?
Anal fissures and piles are commonly caused and worsened, by constipation. Maintaining healthy habits and having soft and easy to pass stools can help to solve the problem.
Try these suggestions:
Make sure to always have a lot of fiber in your diet: these include, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole wheat bread and cereals as well as fruits and vegetables.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water every day.
Even if it’s just a short, brisk walk, make an effort to exercise regularly.
As soon as you feel the urge, go to the bathroom, as waiting can make your stools harder and drier.
During bowel movements, anal fissures can be quite painful. This could mean developing a fear of going to the toilet. However, having at least one bowel movement per day will allow the fissure to heal more quickly.
If possible, try to spend time on the bathroom without disruptions, so you can relax more.
Anal fissures normally heal by themselves within a couple of weeks, but on occasion, they can take more time to resolve. Anal fissures can return if the cause – constipation – isn’t treated.
If the problems with constipation persist, ask your physician or midwife to give you a laxative that is safe during pregnancy.
Piles usually disappear or at least shrink if the pressure on them is taken off, although this can be difficult to do when pregnant. You might need to wait until after delivery for your piles to improve or resolve.
What can I do to reduce the discomfort brought on by rectal bleeding?
After your bowel movement, gently and thoroughly wipe. Use alcohol and fragrance-free, moist wipes, which might be considerably more comfortable than using plain toilet tissue. When drying, make sure you pat, rather than rub.
To help with the sore feeling after going to the toilet, it may be useful to soak in a warm bath.
Paracetamol is worth trying if the pain lasts for hours after having your bowel movement. However, it’s unknown how effective paracetamol is as a painkiller. If you suffer from pain that is difficult to control, go to your doctor or midwife again. Your doctor may recommend an ointment to soothe the area before you have a bowel movement.
Anal fissures, as painful as they are, should go away once your body readjusts after giving birth, and after constipation resolves.
Talk to your midwife or healthcare provider if constipation continues to be a problem. They can give you some advice regarding lifestyle and diet changes, and they can also prescribe a laxative or stool softener if necessary.
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