During pregnancy, if you feel like you don’t recognize your own body, you are not alone! I remember being startled at my own appearance at many stages of my pregnancy. Nothing looked or felt right as everything inside my body shifted to make room for a growing human being. As my pregnancy progressed, my lifelong innie become an outie, veins went varicose and I developed some unwelcome visitors called hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are not dangerous but they are unattractive and can be quite painful. How and why do they develop during pregnancy? As the uterus enlarges, the increased blood flow to the pelvic area can cause rectal veins to bulge, swell and sometimes become itchy. Hemorrhoids can also develop because of constipation. Increased effort and strain when having a bowel movement can inflame the veins in the anus and rectum. Another cause of hemorrhoids is pushing during labor. Thankfully, hemorrhoids often will subside after delivery.
What can you do in the meantime to cope with the discomfort of hemorrhoids? According to WhatToExpect.com, there are many steps you can take:
1. Increase your fiber consumption and water intake to soften stools.
2. Stay active and exercise regularly.
3. Sleep on your side to alleviate pressure on the rectum. Take breaks throughout the day to lie down, even for a few moments at a time.
4. Don’t force bowel movements. It can cause rectal bleeding or anal fissures.
5. Try witch hazel, ice packs, or a lukewarm bath to soothe affected areas.
6. Do kegel exercises while you are sitting at work or driving in the car. I always did kegels every time I stopped at a red light. This increases blood flow to your rectum.
7. Get some good support hose. I wore them every day of my fourth pregnancy beginning at week 10 and it made a world of difference.
8. Ask your doctor before using any hemorrhoid cream or stool softener so you will not put yourself or baby at risk.
Most cases of hemorrhoids due to pregnancy will go away after the baby is born. However, some women do have recurrent cases of hemorrhoids and need post-partum treatment. If necessary, minor surgery will correct the problem. Your ob-gyn can refer you to a specialist who can help.