4 Self-Help Tips For Treating Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy
Pregnant? Congratulations! I'm sure you can't wait to see the face of the little one growing inside of you. Then again, I'm also sure your body is undergoing changes you didn't expect to experience, such as - you guessed it - hemorrhoids!
When you see a protrusion down there after using the toilet, it most probably is a hemorrhoid. It may or may not cause pain, so don't assume it's not a hemorrhoid just because it doesn't hurt!
Hemorrhoids: What They Really Are
In case you haven't done your online research yet, let me tell you a little more about hemorrhoids. Put simply, pregnancy predisposes you to hemorrhoids because of the many changes your body is undergoing. For instance, the presence of that growing baby inside you keeps the blood from your lower body from going back up to your heart - and that leads to accumulation of blood in your veins, including those found in your anus. And yes, that can lead to hemorrhoids.
But that's not the only thing about pregnancy that causes hemorrhoids. The hormones keeping your baby happy in your uterus are actually contributing to the problem! Progesterone, which I sometimes refer to as the "pro-baby" hormone, is a known culprit, too.
Progesterone keeps your veins from tightening. Because they aren't as constricted as they used to be before pregnancy, they retain blood more than usual, contributing to the formation of hemorrhoids.
This hormone also leads to the relaxation of intestinal muscles - that's why you probably have a harder time going to the bathroom lately! Unfortunately, your constipation also plays a role in hemorrhoid formation.
If you have hemorrhoids, you are likely to experience any of the following:
- bleeding during bowel movement
- pain, itching, or discomfort in the anal area
- a mass or swollen area in or near the anal opening
- worsening of symptoms/ enlargement of the mass upon straining
Don't worry; it happens to the best of us! Besides, there are things you can do to make sure hemorrhoids don't pose too much of a problem during your pregnancy.
Tips for Treating Hemorrhoids during Pregnancy
Here are a few tips for you so that your hemorrhoids don't become too much of a problem. (If you're still in the early months of pregnancy, follow these tips so that your lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids later on.)
1. Treat fiber and water like your two new best friends
As I mentioned earlier, constipation may help contribute to the development of annoying hemorrhoids. So, stock up on fruits and veggies! Fruits and vegetables contain fiber and water, both of which help prevent constipation.
Remember to drink enough water throughout the day as well, especially during summer. Dehydration leads to hard stools, which might injure any small hemorrhoids you already have - and that can lead to infection.
Also, consider eating fresh fruit rich in flavonoids - oranges, for instance. Flavonoids are phytochemicals found to improve the health of veins.
If following a fiber-rich diet is particularly hard for you, a fiber supplement may help. You may need up to about 30 grams of fiber in total.
2. Apply soothing oils to prevent drying and inflammation
Oils are known humectants - that is, they keep water from evaporating too fast from the skin. Applying natural oils, for instance, helps coat the skin around the anal opening, preventing further trauma and keeping inflammation at bay.
Different natural oils are prescribed for use after each bowel movement. The best oils also possess a natural anti-inflammatory effect, preventing redness, skin irritation, and other consequences of local inflammation.
Note: When looking for natural healing products, look for those from FDA-registered companies. Ask your doctor as well if you may use these products in combination with - or instead of - the medication he prescribed for you.
3. Keep it clean; keep it dry
If using good ol' tissue did no harm in the past, that might not be the case anymore, now that you have hemorrhoids! Use wet wipes instead to prevent further trauma. If you don't want to overspend on wet wipes, try wetting tissue paper before use. Also, go for softer tissue.
Whenever you feel like doing "number two", don't wait too long! Go to the toilet as soon as you can to prevent constipation.
Lastly, soak in a tub of warm water whenever you can. The warm water does wonders for hemorrhoids.
4. Get your butt off the couch
I know sitting alone hurts, but that's not the reason I'm asking you to stand up. Exercise actually alleviates sluggish circulation, including the really, really slow blood flow in those hemorrhoids!
Good circulation prevents the formation of clotted blood. It also ensures that your anal area receives all the oxygen and nutrients it needs to heal itself.
Do you know how to perform Kegel exercises? They're so easy that you can do them even as you're watching TV or washing the dishes! Kegel exercises help prevent hemorrhoids.
To do Kegel exercises, just tighten your pelvice floor muscles for five seconds. (Pelvic floor muscles are what my friends call the "anti-pee" and "anti-poop" muscles - you contract them whenever you want to keep from pooping or peeing!)
Repeat your contractions several times each day. It's like lifting weights for biceps; they help strengthen the muscles down there so that blood flow increases.
Enjoy Your Pregnancy!
These tips are easy as pie! I hope they help you in one of the most exciting periods of your life. And remember, you can always ask your obstetrician what can be done about your hemorrhoids if you feel that the above self-help pointers aren't enough.
Don't let your hemorrhoids get in the way of a wonderful pregnancy. Good luck and enjoy what promises to be the most interesting nine months of your life!