Rectal bleeding

■ 3rd trimester

Rectal bleeding is a very important sign that always requires evaluation. Fortunately, bleeding from your anus rarely indicates a problem with your pregnancy, and because of the age group of pregnant women, it's rarely related to serious colorectal disease either. Most often rectal bleeding is caused by hemorrhoids, which are fairly common during the last trimester and in the weeks following delivery (see also Hemorrhoids).

Another possible cause of rectal bleeding is a tiny crack or cracks in the anus (anal fissure). Fissures are usually caused by constipation, another common problem during pregnancy. Anal fissures are usually quite painful.

■ Prevention and self-care for rectal bleeding

Hemorrhoids and anal fissures are often caused and irritated by constipation, so your best strategy is to stay regular. For tips on avoiding constipation, see Constipation.

■ When to seek medical help for rectal bleeding

Always report rectal bleeding to your health care provider. He or she will want to check out the cause of the bleeding and may recommend another treatment for hemorrhoids. Bleeding accompanied by diarrhea with mucus and abdominal pain may indicate the possibility of an inflammatory bowel.

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