Taking care of your internal plumbing is a must during pregnancy, even if you haven't given it much thought before now. Changes in hormones and activity levels combined with less activity and a growing uterus can make it challenging to keep everything moving as it should. Constipation can lead to abdominal discomfort, bloating, cramping, and hemorrhoids from straining to defecate. It is best to avoid constipation if you can, but consult your healthcare provider before treating your symptoms if it does sneak up on you, as some medications are contraindicated during pregnancy.
Preventing constipation is key to preventing the development of hemorrhoids. While not the sole cause of hemorrhoids, straining to poop definitely won't help you avoid them and can potentially create them if you are already pre-disposed, so there is plenty of motivation to get your fiber. If you're still having trouble, you can try switching prenatal vitamins or getting a liquid form that might be easier on the intestines. Tell your doctor if you aren't going regularly, so they can offer some possible interventions before things get too compacted.
- Drink Lots of Water — Staying hydrated is essential for staying healthy and regular during pregnancy. Water is a key component to a healthy pregnancy both for your baby and you.
- Eat Lots of Fiber — Eating enough fiber helps keep things moving to stay regular and avoid straining. Fiber is included in many grains and fruits and vegetables. Eating small portions multiple times a day is a good way to get the fiber you need without the gas that can come with it.
- Stay Active — Exercise can keep your intestines on track. Be sure to review your exercise plans with your caregiver and keep things low impact and safe by skipping any exercises that could lead to falling or fainting. Be sure to continue drinking water during activity to avoid dehydration.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectum and anus that can cause pain, itching, and minor bleeding. Pain can worsen when you are sitting, and sometimes you'll see bloody stool or red on your toilet paper when you wipe. Itching and discomfort are also common symptoms of hemorrhoids and could be the first indicators before you know you even have a problem. While avoiding constipation can help you avoid hemorrhoids, it may not always keep them from showing up. Your best bet is to avoid straining by attempting to prevent them by keeping your stool moving regularly. However, should they rear their ugly head, there are a few things you can try at home to treat or relieve discomfort from hemorrhoids.
- Topical treatments can provide some relief from the itching, burning, and discomfort. Some to try include witch hazel or Motherlove Rhoid Balm.
- Soaking your anal area in warm water 2 to 3 times a day for about 15 minutes in a bath or a sitz bath that fits over your toilet can also calm inflamed tissues for some temporary relief.
- Keep your tush clean by showering or bathing daily and cleaning gently with warm water. Avoid harsh chemicals and soaps while cleaning to prevent agitating the area.
- Avoid using dry toilet paper after a bowel movement despite your lifetime of likely doing so. Use wet toilet paper or a toilet-safe, moist towelette that is fragrance and alcohol-free. These kinds of wipes help keep the area clean with less topical agitation.
- For more intense discomfort or swelling, you can apply cold compresses or ice packs to the area.
- If your symptoms are really bad and you don't mind sniggering over your shoulder, a donut-shaped pillow can provide some relief to your bum when sitting.
- American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology - Problems of the Digestive Symptoms
- American Pregnancy Association - Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy
- Mayo Clinic - What can I do to treat hemorrhoids during pregnancy?