Haemorrhoids and Varicose Veins in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of amazing changes and growth. Your body is busily growing a whole new organ, the placenta, producing more blood than it ever has and nourishing a whole new person. These amazing changes can sometimes be accompanied by some not so pleasant ones, including varicose veins that can occur in your legs, vulva or anus. Acupuncture is a safe treatment during pregnancy, and can help relieve the pain and discomfort of haemorrhoids and other varicosities during pregnancy.  

Why do Varicosities happen in Pregnancy?

Changes within the veins are common during pregnancy. The increased volume of blood,  higher levels of progesterone softening the blood vessels and valves and the added pressure of a growing uterus place an extra burden on the circulatory system. Haemorroids, varicose veins and vulval varicosities are all caused by changes in the veins in the anus, legs and vulva respectively. 

Some women have existing varicose veins that worsen in appearance, or feel heavy, bulging or painful. Others who have never had them suddenly find themselves having to manage the pain and discomfort of haemorrhoids. Varicosities are usually mild and can be managed with some lifestyle changes, but they can sometimes become very painful and debilitating and may need further treatment. 

Deep vein thrombosis is a possible complication of varicose veins that requires medical attention. Get in touch with your midwife or medical practitioner urgently if you experience swelling, redness, pain or cramping in your calf or leg. 

Self Care for Varicose Veins

Support your circulatory system and ease the discomfort of varicose veins by

* Exercising regularly. Swimming is great if you find it difficult to be on your feet

* Change position often, especially if you are working at a desk or sitting for long periods

* Raise your legs when you can

* Avoid crossing your legs

* Switch to flat shoes if you are wearing heels

* Stay hydrated

Self care for Haemorrhoids

Haemorroids are often worse during pregnancy as the growing baby puts increasing pressure on the abdomen and surging hormones can cause constipation.  Straining and difficult bowel motions can also lead to fissures, making passing a stool very painful. 

Ease the pain of haemorrhoids and fissures by

* Maintaining a fibre rich diet. Dried fruits such as prunes or figs are easy additional sources of fibre

* Stay hydrated. Drinking water helps keep the stool soft

* Avoid straining when moving your bowels. A small stool under your feet when on the toilet can help by straightening the rectal canal

* Stay active if you can. Exercise supports the digestive system and keeps everything moving

* Apply a cold flannel or sit in a shallow cold bath to ease the burning and itching of haemorrhoids

If conventional management strategies aren’t giving you the relief you need, acupuncture is a safe treatment option. In Chinese Medicine theory, varicosities are explained as a failure of the Qi of the body to sufficiently hold the blood and support the venous system. By nourishing and balancing the Qi, acupuncture gently helps the body to regain equilibrium during the changes of pregnancy.