The result of pregnancy is a beautiful, precious baby. It's just the most amazing time of your life. Hmmmm, right. It's not always charming sista! The journey there can sometimes include a few unpleasant experiences. One of these unpleasant experiences is having to deal with hemorrhoids during pregnancy. Imagine your butt hole just taking on a whole alien personality of it's own. That's right. Maybe it starts to feel like it's turning inside out. Not to mention a little itching. Maybe your starfish has started to bleed a bit when you go number two. So. Not. Cute.
Just keeping it real! Take this as a public service announcement because you, yes you mommy to be, can possibly avoid this, or at least help it out if you've already started to become a "victim" of hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are varicose veins in the rectum that flair up under pressure. When women begin getting hemorrhoids during pregnancy, they may be confused as to why they are occurring, what they could've done to avoid them, and how they can treat them. Thankfully, there are answers to all of these questions.
Why Do Pregnant Women Get Hemorrhoids?
Pregnant women are more prone to getting hemorrhoids for a few different reasons. The main reason is constipation, but there are several reasons why you may become constipated. One of the reasons for constipation and hemorrhoids during pregnancy may be the increased levels of the hormone progesterone in your body. This hormone helps to soften your cartilage, joints, and ligaments to prepare for the birth of your baby. However, another side effect of increased progesterone levels is the relaxing of your vein walls. This can make it harder for you to push out your stools, because everything is so "relaxed" down there, causing you to strain more and create hemorrhoids.
Another cause of constipation, and therefore hemorrhoids, is the increased pressure on the lower half of your body, and specifically your rectum, from your enlarged uterus and fetus. This pressure can increase your risk of getting hemorrhoids when trying to have a bowel movement because the veins swell.
Iron supplements that are recommended by some doctors during pregnancy can also add to problems with constipation and hemorrhoids. Iron is notorious, like crazy infamous for causing this so not cute side effect of being preggo! This is because your body may not be used to the higher doses of iron, causing the excess iron to go from your small intestine to your large intense, where it mixes with bad bacteria to cause bloating, gas, and constipation. It creates hard, dry, dark, and tarry stools.
So, How Can I Avoid Hemorrhoids?
If you haven't already received the gift of hemorrhoids during pregnancy, but are worried about getting them, thankfully there are things that you can do to avoid them altogether.
One thing that you can do to avoid hemorrhoids is to keep your stools as soft as possible. This can be done by eating a diet that is high in fiber. Drinking a lot of fluids throughout each day can also help to keep your stool soft and loose. At least two liters of water a day. If need be, you may even want to talk with your doctor about using a stool softener to help soften your stool as well. Metamucil, or some fiber supplement, is great for keeping the flow flowing. Ask your physician what they recommend for you.
Another way to avoid hemorrhoids is to gain the appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy and avoid excess weight gain. The more weight you gain during pregnancy, the more pressure you are putting on your rectum. A great way to keep your weight gain on track, and also stop stool from becoming hardened, is to exercise regularly throughout the course of your pregnancy. Walking greatly helps move everything downward and keeps you regular. You should be walking and exercising into your third trimester anyways, unless instructed otherwise.
Lastly, get a foot stool for the potty. This is not new to lots of people, but seems like in the USA it's becoming more known. A popular brand is Squatty Potty, but you can get any generic kind from Bed Bath and Beyond, or even Target. Having a foot stool when going to the bathroom helps move things along faster and easier because it positions you in a natural squat position and eliminates straining and decreases pressure on the veins.
- drink lots of water
- avoid constipation by increasing fiber
- eat fiber full foods like dried apricots, prunes, vegetables, brussels sprouts, lentils, etc.
- walk and exercise as advised by your doctor
- get a foot stool for the potty
How Do I Treat Hemorrhoids Once I Have Them?
If you already have hemorrhoids and would like to reduce the pain and irritation that they are causing you, then there are a few different things that you can try. One main thing that you need to do is start all the above asap. Water, walking, and fiber up!
Now if the water and fiber isn't helping and you feel like you're at the point of no return, try a few things such as an ointment and keep the area clean and soothed. One way to do this is after your go to the bathroom, take a shower, and let very warm water soothe your soreness. Wash with a mild no-fragrance soap and let that warm water calm things down for you.
After drying, apply witch hazel astringent. It is mild, alcohol free, and soothes. Tucks brand makes witch hazel pads and they are amazing. Apply ointment after, such as Preparation H, or something similar. Use only cotton undies.
Ointment, witch hazel, and a butt washer are a mom's best friend to keep hemorrhoids at bay. Put some witch hazel and warm water in the peri bottle. This one by Fridababy is awesome. All ordered from Amazon so you don't even need to walk in a store.
If you are experiencing prolonged irritation more than seven days you can switch from the ointment to coconut oil, or go back and forth from the ointment to coconut oil. If you are really having issues, try a Sitz bath where you can soak your bum.
You may also want to talk to your doctor if it has really become worse or you have thrombosed (clotted) hemorrhoids. A little bright red blood is common with hemorrhoids, but you still should talk to your doctor if it is more, extended for a long time, and especially if you are older than 40.
If none of these methods seem to help, then talk with your OBGYN about pregnancy safe options.
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