How to Relieve Anal Fissure After Childbirth

Anal fissure is a common condition that often accompanies pregnancy. As you move through your trimesters, your chances of developing one increase significantly. But the chances are even higher after you have given birth. This is most likely due to the fact you have to strain and push quite a bit to deliver your baby. The additional pressure can cause a tear in the anus lining. While your risk of anal fissure is 1 in 100 while pregnant, risk of anal fissure after childbirth increases to 1 in 7.

What Does It Feel Like?

When a ulcer develops or a tear occurs in the anal canal lining, it is considered an anal fissure. The two main symptoms of the condition is minor bleeding and pain.

  • The bleeding can usually only be seen on toilet paper after wiping or sometimes on the stool.
  • The pain can range in intensity. It is typically at its worst when you are having a bowel movement. It can then subside into a steady and dull pain that lasts for minutes or hours afterwards.

How to Relieve the Discomfort

If you develop an anal fissure after childbirth, you will seek ways to relieve your discomfort. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Take a Warm Bath

Woman in Tub

A warm bath for an anal fissure is also considered a sitz bath. For it to be effective, you must sit in the bathtub in an upright position so you can clean or comfort the rectal area. A warm bath after passing stool is an ideal way to clean the rectal area and anus. This prevents toilet paper irritation, allows the muscles to relax and promotes blood flow to the area.

There is a specially designed sitz bath seat you can get from your doctor or a medical store. The seat is made so that you can attach it to your toilet. You then fill it with warm water for you to sit in. You want the water to be as warm as possible without being hot. Some stiz bath seats have outlets so the water can drain when needed. It is important to add warm water to keep it at the right temperature. If it does not have a way to release the water, change it to keep it clean and warm.

You need to stay seated in your warm bath or sitz seat for at least 10 minutes, but no more than 20 minutes. You want to relax and sit still so that your muscles can relax.

2. Consume Fiber-Rich Foods

High Fiber Foods

When you incorporate fiber-rich foods in your diet, you promote regular and healthy bowel movements. If you suffer from an anal fissure after childbirth, a fibrous diet can make your stool softer and can make passing it easier. This can help the fissure heal faster. Experts recommend women eat at least 21 to 25 grams per day.

There are several types of fiber-rich foods. Examples include fruit like apples, figs, berries, raisins, oranges, and pears. Vegetables full of fiber include green peas, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and potatoes. Whole wheat grains found in whole wheat bread, oatmeal, bran flakes, whole wheat pasta and bran muffins are also high in fiber. You can also choose from legumes like baked beans, black beans and lima beans.

Avoid foods that are hard to digest as they can slow down the digestive process. Examples include tortilla chips, nuts, popcorn and foods that are hard and have sharp edges.

Remember to Drink Enough Water

More fluid intake often equates to softer stools. Drink eight glasses of water each day. Instead of drinking soda, tea or juice with your meal, stick with water. Consuming your food with water will help break it up. Also, have a water bottle with you at all times so when you get thirsty it is within arm’s reach.

3.  Add Exercise to Your Routine

Woman Walking

Exercise helps stop constipation. Constipation is an anal fissure’s worst enemy, causing pain and irritation. Ideally, you should do 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. Speak with your doctor before starting any type of physical activity. Your body goes through a lot of changes during childbirth and you should use caution when adding exercise to your routine. Your doctor can recommend what types are safe for you.

4.  Apply Topical Medications, Steroids and Anesthetics

Topical Cream

Often times, you doctor may prescribe a topical steroid cream to be used in combination with a topical anesthetic. Some of the medications can be found in your local drugstore, but some do require a prescription. Types of topical anesthetics include lidocaine, pramoxine, xylocaine and tetracaine. It is best to talk to your doctor to decide which one is best for you.

  • You apply the cream before passing stool, gently rubbing it on your rectal area. You can use a specially designed wipe or a paper towel.

Suffering from an anal fissure after childbirth can be very challenging. To help ease your discomfort, a steroid is often mixed with the anesthetic cream to help with the pain caused by a bowel movement. It assists by numbing the area and reducing inflammation.

If you are using a cream mixture that includes steroids, you should discontinue use after two weeks. Using a steroid medication for longer than this can thin out the skin and lining of the rectum area, which can lead to further damage to the anal fissure instead of healing it.

5. Try Stool Softeners

Stool Softener

There are several stool softeners on the market that help ease the discomfort and pain you experience from an anal fissure after childbirth. You can talk to your doctor about which type is best for you, especially if you are still breastfeeding. By easing the pain and struggle to pass stool, you allow your fissure to heal.

You should carefully follow the directions on the stool softener label. Do not take more than directed. Pay close attention to the potential side effects. If you experience any symptoms or side effects after use that you are unsure of, contact your physician.

A Quick Note

Sometimes, the combination of home remedies with stool softeners can speed the healing process of anal fissures. Consider a combination of increasing your fluid intake, adding exercise and drinking lots of water along with the medication to achieve maximum relief. However, let your doctor know what your plans are to make sure they are right for you and your situation.

Tips for Anal Fissure Prevention

Don't Ignore Your Urge to Go

When you have to go, then go. Meaning if you need to have a bowel movement, then go to the bathroom and do it. Often, we get busy and wait to go. This practice can really mess up your system. If you put your bowel movements off too often, your body will start to ignore the signs of you needing to go. When you wait too long, your body will have a harder time because your stool will get harder and drier.

Practice Healthy Bowel Habits

To keep your strain and constipation to a minimum, you should try these tips:

  • Give yourself time to have a bowel movement without feeling the pressure of rushing it along or having to sit too long on the toilet.
  • Avoid straining to push your bowel movement.
  • Use dye-free and unscented toilet paper or gentle wipes.
  • Make sure to clean thoroughly every time you pass stool.
  • Ensure that the anal and rectum area are kept dry.
  • Seek medical attention for regular diarrhea.
  • Keep conditions like IBS or Crohn’s disease under control and follow recommended treatments for the ailments.