Rectal bleeding during pregnancy can be pretty common, especially during the third trimester of pregnancy and immediately after giving birth. Bloody stools during pregnancy are typically caused by hemorrhoids, which are swollen blood vessels in the rectal area. These hemorrhoids can either be inside the rectum or protruding outside the anus. These blood vessels can bleed when you strain too hard when moving your bowels, when you are passing hard stools, or when you rub your anus when wiping or cleaning it off.
A less common cause of bloody stools during pregnancy is the presence of anal fissures, which are painful cracks in the anus. These anal fissures can be due to the passage of hard stools during pregnancy, since constipation is also very common among pregnant women.
If you happen to have blood in stools during pregnancy, there is usually no reason to panic if it is caused by constipation. This will resolve on its own once you address the problem of constipation. However, you may need to consult your physician if severe bleeding occurs. It is also important to consult your obstetrician once you see blood in your panties, since you can never be sure whether this blood is coming from your rectum or vagina.
Fortunately, rectal bleeding secondary to constipation can be treated just by preventing constipation in the first place. Simple dietary modifications will be needed, such as increasing your intake of high fiber and bulk-forming foods. These include whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Fiber will help you pass stools regularly.
Hydration is also very important so as to soften your stools and avoid the passage of hard stools that may cause trauma to your rectum and anus. Drinking at least six to eight glasses of water every day is already enough. You can also drink a glass of fruit juice every day.
Another way to prevent constipation is through regular exercise. You can engage in daily walking exercises, or you can enroll in yoga classes if you have the time. Contrary to what most people think, pregnant women can still enroll in yoga classes if you have the time. Contrary to what most people think, pregnant women can still exercise. Kegel exercises, in particular, are beneficial for both prevention of hemorrhoids and preparation for childbirth. This will not only help prevent constipation but will also strengthen your pelvic muscles in preparation for childbirth.
While you can usually purchase fiber supplements over the counter, it is still important to consult your obstetrician prior to doing so since these can have adverse effects to pregnant women. In fact, you should make it a habit to consult your obstetrician first before taking any kind of medication or supplement during pregnancy. Ask your physician regarding the safe supplements that you can take in order to prevent constipation and subsequently prevent bloody stools.
Behavioral changes are necessary as well. For example, when you feel the urge to defecate, do not suppress this urge. Go to the bathroom at once so as not to develop any problems in passing stools. The problem in putting off bowel movement is that the longer your stools stay in your rectum, the more water is absorbed by the body. As a result, your stools become hard and painful to excrete. By simply following your “gut feeling,” you can already prevent rectal bleeding.
Once you have already developed hemorrhoids, you can still do something to prevent them from bleeding. Putting cold compress on your anal area can reduce the swelling. In fact, alternate hot and cold treatments can be beneficial, such as using an ice pack and a warm sitz bath afterwards.