New Health Guide

Should I Worry about Blood in Stool in Pregnancy?

Jan 14, 2018

Seeing blood in stool while pregnant can be an alarming thing. Your body goes through a lot of changes, and sometimes some blood in the stool happens for perfectly explainable reasons. While small amounts can happen at times, large amounts should be checked by your doctor.

Don’t panic! You may have something as simple as hemorrhoids or the usual constipation that occurs in pregnancy. This article will explain why this happens, when you should talk to your doctor about it, and some helpful tips to ease this symptom.

Causes of Blood in Stool During Pregnancy

If you notice blood in stool, you may just be experiencing one of the common pregnancy symptoms related to changes in your bowels. While you should check with your doctor, these things are pretty normal and can be fixed. Here are some things that might be causing this to happen:

1. Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are very common in pregnancy and can occur at any time. They are swollen veins in the anal area that can pop open and bleed. They often protrude from the rectum, and are about the size of a grape or small nut. They are usually caused by the weight of the baby, dry hard stools, or if you strain to have bowel movements. They are often noticed when wiping and blood ends up on the toilet paper. The blood may even make it into the toilet with the stool that passes.

2. Constipation

Constipation is very common in pregnancy due to the bowels slowing down. It is also caused by not drinking enough fluids or not eating enough fiber. The stool can become very hard and dry, causing bleeding with bowel movements. The iron in prenatal vitamins can also lead to constipation.

3. Anal Tears

If you are very constipated, it can lead to an anal fissure. Straining to pass hard stool causes the delicate lining of the anal area to crack and bleed. If this continues, an anal tear can result. Anal tears tend to bleed profusely and you will notice blood in the toilet and the stool you just passed.

4. Diverticulosis

Diverticulosis occurs when you have small pockets in your colon that collect waste from your body, and become infected. This can sometimes lead to bleeding from the colon and rectum. This is not caused by pregnancy, but the condition can worsen with constipation or dietary changes.

5. Anal Fistula

Sometimes an abscess can form in the anal opening. When these heal up a fistula can form in the area. This is where the body forms an opening between the rectum and the outside skin. These can open up and bleed at times.

6. Colon Polyps

Colon polyps are benign growths that grow on the walls of the colon. They tend to be small and most people don’t even know they have them. If they become large and/or inflamed they can break open and bleed. This can cause blood in stool while pregnant.

7. Colitis 

Colitis occurs when the colon develops ulcers that become inflamed and swollen. It can happen anytime and not due to the pregnancy. While the direct cause is unknown, it is believed to be caused by bacteria, viruses, or immune system issues. It can be painful, and the ulcers may bleed, sending blood into stool while pregnant.

When to Contact Your Doctor

A small amount of blood in the toilet or on the toilet paper, may be nothing to worry about. You may notice other symptoms like:

  • Pain in your rectum when having a bowel movement
  • Itching
  • Dark colored stools
  • Spots of blood on your underwear
  • Pain near the rectum when sitting down for long periods

If you suspect the blood may have come from vaginal area, call your doctor right away or go to the emergency room. If you experience symptoms like; dizziness, severe gushes of blood, large amounts of blood in the toilet, call 9-1-1 or have someone drive you to the hospital right away. They may need to test your stool for blood to see where it is coming from.

Tell your doctor as soon as you can if you experience prolonged constipation causing your rectum to bleed, or hemorrhoids that are protruding and large. You should also let your doctor know if you are having diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting with blood in your stool. These can signal infection or chronic conditions that need addressed.

 What You Can Do About It 

If your doctor isn’t concerned about a small amount of blood in stool while pregnant, there are some measures you can take at home for relief. Try these things:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Lack of fluids can cause dry, hard stools. This can scrape the anal area when you pass it and cause bleeding. Drinking plenty of fluids during pregnancy is the best defense against constipation.
  • Eat a high fiber diet. Fiber helps bulk up the stool and will draw in water to help keep it soft. Make sure you eat plenty of foods like; fruits, seeds, whole grains, broccoli, carrots, legumes, and avocados.
  • Walk. Digestion slows during pregnancy. It is the actual pregnancy hormone that slows the speed of the bowel, so that you and baby get lots of nutrients. Walking can help stimulate bowels and get things moving. Gravity will also help stools go downward towards the rectum to relieve straining.
  • Use a rinse bottle with witch hazel. Witch hazel rinses on the rectum can help relieve inflammation, itching and pain from hemorrhoids. It will also help keep the area clean to prevent infection.
  • Take probiotics. Probiotics can help keep the lower digestive tract healthy. They also promote better absorption of nutrients from the intestines, and can help reduce constipation.
  • Sit on one side or the other. If you suffer from painful hemorrhoids, sit on one side of your bottom or the other. Try to avoid sitting straight up and down, as this can add to pressure that increases the amount of blood that stays inside the veins. If hemorrhoids become too large, they can burst open and bleed.

It isn’t uncommon to notice some blood in stool while pregnant. Don’t panic and take the right measures.