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How to Prevent Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy (Yup, It Happens!)
PHOTO BY @RobertoDavid/iStock
  • Having a baby is a joy, and the anticipation for that tiny bundle of miracle can never be equaled. It’s the getting there that is often challenging. Pregnancy symptoms can be painful, uncomfortable, or even embarrassing at times — an inflamed rectum and anus, also known as hemorrhoids, can be all three.   

    Hemorrhoids are quite common in pregnancy. They have the same appearance as varicose veins in the anus area. They may become apparent in the latter part of your pregnancy, around the third trimester, and may get worse as you near your due date. 

    What causes hemorrhoids in pregnancy

    Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are known to affect 50% of women during pregnancy. However, these are not exclusive to pregnancy — in fact, you may already have had them before this time.

    However, a few other factors may contribute to you having them during this time, such as: an increase in blood production overall to support the growing life inside you, hormones, your growing uterus putting pressure to the veins around your anus, and constipation, which is another common pregnancy symptom. 

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    Symptoms of hemorrhoids

    Hemorrhoids can be classified as internal and external based on their location in your body. Some of the signs that you have external hemorrhoids are:

    • bleeding after bowel movement
    • pain during bowel movement
    • swelling of the area around your anus, or a raised area of skin
    • a burning sensation in your rectum

    Internal hemorrhoids usually present no symptoms.

    Constipation and hemorrhoids

    Hemorrhoids usually go away by themselves after childbirth. While you have them, however, constipation could worsen the discomfort you feel. Passing hard stools when you have an inflamed anus is painful, so you want to avoid getting constipated especially during this time.

    How to avoid constipation

    • Drink plenty of water
    • Incorporate fiber into your diet. Avocadoes, raspberries, pears, and vegetables like broccoli, mung beans, and artichoke are good sources of fiber
    • Discuss with your doctor your intake of iron, which could aggravate your constipation

    If necessary, your doctor may prescribe laxatives for short-term relief.

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    How to prevent hemorrhoids during pregnancy

    Because the causes of hemorrhoids are usually beyond your control, here are some tips on managing the symptoms:

    • Exercise, with your doctor’s go-signal
    • In particular, perform Kegel exercises
    • Once you get the urge to move bowels, go at once and avoid straining or sitting on the bowl for long periods of time
    • Sit on a cushioned ice pack for a few minutes a day
    • Use soft wipes and be gentle when handling that area
    • Topical creams may be applied, but check with your doctor which kind is safe for pregnant women

    Most cases of hemorrhoids get better and/or disappear after childbirth, and surgery is rarely recommended to address it. Bring it up with your doctor when you notice hemorrhoids so she can look into it right away.

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