Pregnancy is synonymous with change. While some changes are rather visible and obvious, others aren’t! But, the symptoms of such changes, apparent or otherwise, can sometimes be a little disturbing!
A general condition that many women experience with the onset of pregnancy is spots of blood in the stool. Blood in your stool can be an alarming sign, and even more so while you are pregnant! But before you panic, find out more about blood in the stool during pregnancy, what it means, and why it happens; read our post below.
Pregnancy is a time for caution, and you will probably try your best to ensure that you are in best of your health, so that your unborn baby is safe and healthy. While spotting some blood in your stool can make you panic, it is not typically serious, unless the quantity is significant or if it is a regular incidence. Consult your doctor about it.
Causes Of Blood In Stool During Pregnancy
Here are a few causes that could lead to a spotting of blood in your stool while you are pregnant:
Most women experience constipation while they are pregnant. It could either be mild constipation or a very severe case where passing stool becomes a painful experience.
If you do not drink enough water or if you do not take enough fiber in your diet, you will most likely suffer from constipation. To make sure that your bowel movements are regular and smooth, try to have a minimum of eight to ten glasses of water in a day, and if possible, even more.
Another reason that could cause constipation while you are pregnant is the medication that you take. Sometimes, a high dosage vitamins during your pregnancy months can also lead to constipation and make it difficult for you to pass stool.
If you are constipated, it could lead to further issues that could cause blood in your stool:
- The blood vessels that are located around your rectal area are known as hemorrhoids. During the final months of your pregnancy, the hemorrhoids can become swollen and lead to pain and discomfort.
- If you are already constipated, you will have to strain yourself more to pass stool. As a result, your hemorrhoids can get bigger than what they are and start to bleed. It is when you may notice blood in your stool.
- If your bleeding is because of hemorrhoids, your doctor will ask you to increase your fiber intake and also ask you to drink more water and fluids. Your doctor may give you a stool bulking agent that will help to soften your stool and will reduce your need to strain while passing bowel movements.
B. Anal Fissures:
- Anal fissures are cracks that form on your skin around the rectum area. When you are constipated, you have to strain harder to pass stool. In most cases, anal fissures occur due to constipation.
- When you continue to strain hard to pass stool, the anal fissures can crack, which can lead to blood in your stool. The fissures are also extremely painful.
- To help ease your pain and discomfort from the anal fissures, your doctor may suggest you go for a warm bath and also increase the amount of fiber you include in your daily diet. If it does not work, your doctor may recommend you try a stool bulking agent that will help to soften your stools and ease the pressure you have to use.
- Also, there are various ointments, such as Nifedipine and Nitroglycerin, which can also help to soothe the affected area and heal your fissures faster. Make sure that you use them only after you have checked with your doctor. In some cases, when the fissures do not heal with any form of treatment, the last resort is to go for surgery. If that is the case, your doctor will ask you to wait till you have given birth and then go ahead with the surgery, if it is still required.
C. Anal Tears:
- Anal tears happen only if you have anal fissures. As you remain constipated, you strain harder to pass stool, and it puts a high amount of pressure on your anal fissures.
- As a result, the anal fissures become bigger and can lead to tears in your rectum area. Due to the same, you can notice blood in your stool.
- Most treatments for anal tears are similar to the treatment for anal fissure.
- A fistula is like a channel from your rectum area to the skin around your anus. In most cases, it helps to discharge a whitish substance, but sometimes, it can also cause bleeding.
- A fistula is often a problem in that particular area, and your doctor will be able to treat it locally. However, sometimes a fistula can also be the cause of a severe type of inflammation in some part of your intestinal tract, and the condition is known as Crohn’s disease.
- To treat a fistula, your doctor may prescribe some antibiotics that will be safe to be taken while you are pregnant. Otherwise, if that is not an option, your doctor can also prescribe certain medications that will help to take care of the Crohn’s disease. In rare cases, if a fistula does not get treated with medication, the doctors may suggest a surgery. However, your doctor will ask you to wait till after the birth and only then have the surgery.
- There are many sacs, or pockets, that project from the wall in your bowel area, and are known as diverticula. In most cases, diverticula develop in the colon as you mature through the years. However, sometimes it is possible to have diverticula that expand and swells because of the constant pressure of the spasms that your colon faces.
- While there is usually no problem, the diverticula may get infected and lead to a condition that is known as diverticulosis. In the case of diverticula, the bleeding often happens at once, and only for one time. You will see a lot of blood together which will stop as soon as it starts. Sometimes, though, you may notice spots of blood constantly over a number of days, and sometimes even for a few weeks. In such cases, the amount of blood will usually be less.
- In only a few cases, diverticulosis can turn into a serious condition where you may need to stay in a hospital or also need to go in for surgery. Make sure that you speak to your doctor if you notice a big amount of blood or notice blood spots for a few days at a stretch.
3. Polyps And Cancer:
- One health concern that is also often related to bleeding from the rectal area is cancer. The benign growths that occur in the colon are known as polyps. Often when the polyps become big in size, they can lead to bleeding.
- There are some types of polyps that can turn cancerous.
4. Proctitis And Colitis:
- The rectum or the colon can sometimes get inflamed and result in the growth of ulcers. Sometimes, both the rectum and the colon can become inflamed at the same time. The inflammation of the rectum is called proctitis while the inflammation of the colon is called colitis.
- There are various reasons that could lead to the appearance of ulcers on the inside surface of the bowel area. As a result of the ulcers, you can also experience bleeding and notice spots in the stool.
- Sometimes, you may experience what is known as a rectal emergency. It is a condition in which you suddenly feel as if you have to pass stool almost immediately. You may also experience diarrhea that will be associated with bleeding in the stool.
- When you experience any of the above, make sure that you talk to your doctor immediately about the same. Your doctor will first diagnose and test to check for the exact cause of the bleeding and identify whether you are suffering from proctitis or colitis. Once they know what the cause of the bleeding is, you will get the right type of treatment.
Symptoms Of Blood In Stool During Pregnancy
Here are some of the symptoms that you will experience along with blood in your stool:
- You may experience pain in your rectal area especially while passing stool. Sometimes, if the condition is severe, you will also have a lot of pain even while you sit down.
- You will be able to spot bright red blood in your stool.
- In some cases, your stool will change color and turn blackish, reddish or even maroon.
- Sometimes, your doctor may ask you to go for a stool test, and the result may come back as positive for an occult blood loss. It means that there is blood present in your stool, but you are not able to see it.
- Some more symptoms that you may experience if you have blood in your stool are feeling dizzy or light headed, feeling confused, or even fainting.
When Should You Tell Your Doctor About Blood In Stool During Pregnancy?
Blood in the stool is quite common while you are pregnant. If you notice just a little amount, such as very few drops of blood in your stool, it is probably not something you need to be worried about! Of course, you should keep your doctor updated about any changes you notice while you are pregnant, so you can mention it on your next visit or over the next phone call. Also, if you are sure that the blood you noticed is only from your rectal area and not from your vagina, it is also not a cause of worry. However, here are a few scenarios when you should definitely call up your doctor and tell them about the blood you saw in the stool:
- If you are not sure where the blood in your stool came from and are worried it could also be from your vagina; tell your doctor about it. Your doctor will perform an examination to make sure that the blood is not coming from your vaginal area.
- If you have not been suffering from constipation and have not experienced any discomfort or pain while passing stools.
- Sometimes, you may experience other symptoms in addition to the blood that you spot in your stool. Check if you feel any pain in the abdomen or your back. Also, see if you feel nauseous or end up vomiting while you also notice blood in your stool. If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure that you inform your doctor about it immediately.
- If you experience much bleeding, instead of just seeing a few red spots in your stool, inform your doctor about the same.
- Call your doctor immediately if you feel any pain or swelling in your stomach when you have also spotted blood in the stool. While your stomach will grow when you are pregnant, you will be able to feel if it is due to swelling.
- If you suddenly experience weight loss without any apparent reason, make sure you check with your doctor about the same. Also, let them know that you did spot blood in your stool.
- Call your doctor if you have a fever or are feeling feverish, in addition to spotting blood in your stool.
- You may also feel that you are losing control over your bowel movements, and may sometimes notice the involuntary passing of stool, even while you are not in the washroom. If this happens, make sure to tell your doctor about it.
- If you are suffering from diarrhea for more than a few days, or if the diarrhea is severe, immediately talk to your doctor about it.
- Another condition in which you need to inform your doctor immediately is if you are not able to pass stool for a few days at a stretch. It means that your constipation is severe, which could lead to other health issues.
Health Concerns Of The Gastrointestinal Tract While You Are Pregnant
When you are pregnant, there are a lot of anatomic as well as physiological changes that happen in your gastrointestinal tract. During pregnancy, your doctor will try to diagnose any such changes as fast as possible, so that both you and your unborn baby remain safe and healthy.
- The many changes that happen in your gastrointestinal tract during the months of pregnancy can also lead to symptoms such as nausea, constipation, gastroesophageal reflux and more.
- In some cases, you may also be suffering from Crohn’s disease, which can make treatment rather tricky.
- It can also get extremely challenging for the doctors to diagnose and start treatment at the earliest, as there are a lot of medical restrictions they will have to follow while you are pregnant. In the case of patients who are not pregnant, the doctors can make use of various tools such as radiologic procedures as well as a host of medicines that can help to heal the condition faster. However, when you experience the same during your months of pregnancy, the doctors will try and avoid the same as much as possible, as it could lead to health issues in the unborn baby.
- To make sure that you do not suffer from severe constipation or any of the other health issues that could lead to blood in the stool while you are pregnant, doctors advise that you take precautionary measures instead of waiting for treatment (1).
Alleviating Blood In Stool During Pregnancy
The first thing you should do when you feel discomfort due to the blood in your stool is to inform your doctor. Once your doctor has spoken to you, here are a few things you can do at home that will put you at ease, even if you continue to spot the blood:
- Clean up properly after you have been to the washroom. Make sure that you clean your rectal area each time after you pass stool.
- Be gentle when you wipe yourself or dry the area, so that you do not cause further damage to the fissures or tears that you may have. Instead of rubbing the rectal area dry, pat it gently.
- If you feel you are too much of pain and discomfort, and if it interferes with you passing stool, ask your doctor there are any pain medications that you can safely take while you are pregnant.
- If you still feel pain and discomfort, ask your doctor to suggest some creams or ointments that will help to heal the skin around your rectal area. There are also some medicated creams that will numb your rectal area so that you will experience less pain while you pass stool.
- Wear clothes that are loose fitting, especially lowers, so that they will not scrape or stretch the skin that is already sore from the fissures or tears.
- Increase the amount of water you drink through the day. If you do not want to drink too much water, you can also include a lot of different types of fluids, such as fresh juices, soups, stews, shakes and such in your everyday meal plan. When you are pregnant, your body loses a lot of water, so it is more important to make sure that you are properly hydrated.
- Increase the amount of fiber you have in your everyday meals, as the roughage will help your stool to become soft and prevent constipation. Most cereals contain a good amount of fiber. Also, one of the richest sources of fiber is bran.
- Make sure to include some amount of exercise and activity in your daily lifestyle. Check with your doctor what all exercises you can do or how much activity is good for you.
- Try and pass the stool after you have had meals, as your colon activity will be at its highest when you have had a meal. It will put less stress on your colon and result in less blood in the stool.
- If you are not able to include exercise in your daily routine, you can speak to your doctor about a fiber mix you can create at home with the doctor’s approval. Take four to six tablespoons full of bran and mix it with a bulk forming agent, such as Psyllium, Polycarbophil or Methylcellulose. Have the mix with one or two glasses of warm water. The mix will help to increase the water content in your body as well as reduce the amount of time it takes for your stool to pass through the colon. Speak to your doctor about the measurements and such before you take it.
- Some probiotic formulas can also reduce the pressure you experience while passing stool that often causes blood in the stool. The supplements will help to change the flora that is present in the colon and may cause an improvement in your bowel function. Probiotics are considered very safe and hence are suggested when you are pregnant. However, make sure you speak to your doctor first and only then go for it.
Foods To Ease Constipation
Here are a few foods you can include in your everyday diet to reduce constipation. Before you do so, make sure to check with your doctor first:
- Garbanzo beans
- Kidney beans
- Black eyed peas
- Sweet potatoes
- Pumpkin seeds
While constipation is a common concern during pregnancy, make sure you take precautions to avoid it, and also observe your stool to look for any spots of blood.
Moms, did you ever experience the same issues as above? If yes, do share your experience here to help other pregnant ladies know more. So, leave your comments in the section below, because we would love to hear from you.