Most women when they are pregnant will experience hemorrhoids. After all, they affect at least 10% of women during this time. But what are they????
Hemorrhoids are really no more than swollen veins in the rectum. During pregnancy the pressure of the growing fetus on the pelvis and blood vessels can result in irritation and swelling to these vessels. Additionally, progesterone is present during pregnancy and causes relaxation of the vessel walls of the veins causing them to be more prone to swelling.
Hemorrhoids can also be exacerbated by prolonged standing and sitting, straining during bowel movements and constipation (40% of pregnant women are constipated) and present as burning, itching, stinging and in some cases bleeding of these vessels due to all the irritation.
So what on earth is a pregnant mom to do?
Here are 10 tips to decrease the likelihood of getting hemorrhoids and/ or decrease the level of irritation you have if you already have them.
- Increase your fiber intake. Veggies are your friend! Try to eat more raw vegetables.
- Water! Water! Water! You should be drinking 1/2 your body weight in water. So if you weigh 150 lbs, then you should be drinking 75oz of water.
- Avoid prolonged sitting and especially prolonged standing as this adds to increased pelvic pressure with gravity acting against you.
- Use a SQUATTY POTTY! They put you in an optimal position with the knees above the hip, increasing the anorectal angle and allowing for easier defecation (fancy word for pooping).
- Use flushable wipes or moist towelettes to decrease irritation at the anus and keep the area clean.
- If you are still having a hard time with bowel movements, take a stool softener. Talk to your OB or midwife. DO NOT TAKE A LAXATIVE! Laxatives can add to dehydration and the further along in pregnancy you are, cramping and contractions.
- Sitz baths are recommended for increased comfort.
- Cold compress. Try this DIY cold compress:
Take sanitary napkins and wet them with witch hazel. Replace in freezer to chill. Use when needed to decrease discomfort.
- Sleep in a side-lying position. This allows for increased relaxation and also decreased pressure to the abdomen and pelvis.
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises help with increasing circulation in the pelvis and decrease swelling.
Try these things. Any of them or ALL of them, to alleviate your symptoms with hemorrhoids and feel free to contact me should you have any questions…
Yours in health,