Pregnancy and pooping — not the best combination ever. While you’re probably battling pregnancy constipation and those god awful massive pregnancy poops, you may also notice that sometimes there’s a bit of blood in your toilet offerings. Even when you’re not pregnant, blood in your poop can indicate some serious stuff, everything from ulcers, colitis and polyps, to even colon cancer. But how serious is bleeding when you poop during pregnancy? Here’s what it means, according to OB-GYNs, and thankfully, it’s potentially not as serious as you may think.
Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, an OB-GYN at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells Romper that most commonly, especially during pregnancy, blood in your poop is from hemorrhoids — AKA one of the most annoying and irritating things about pregnancy, in my opinion. Ouch. Why are pregnant women more susceptible to getting hemorrhoids? Ruiz explains, “Pregnant women are susceptible because of the increased circulating blood volume. The colon motility is also slowed down due to the hormones of pregnancy. This creates firmer stool, which leads to more straining, causing hemorrhoids. The stool will have streaks of bright red blood.”
What exactly is a hemorrhoid? I know we certainly feel them — and they feel like awful, painful little bubbles from hell that simultaneously burn and ache while being itchy somehow — but what is it that’s hanging out down there, torturing us with every wipe of the toilet paper and even when we’re sitting down? The Mayo Clinic explained that they’re “swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum” and they can become engorged from straining when you poop. And as we all know, pooping during pregnancy can be no small feat, especially when there’s a baby and your uterus weighing down on your intestine and those pregnancy hormones are making you constipated.
So while streaky blood from your hemorrhoids is normal, other reasons for blood may not. Ruiz warns, “Lower intestinal bleeds are more serious and will not be blood streaks [like when bleeding from hemorrhoids], but frank bleeding. Upper gastrointestinal bleeds are dark in color and also serious.” But more likely than not, if you’re pregnant, you’re probably experiencing bloody poop from hemorrhoids. Now what can you do about them? Personally, I’ve had really good luck with those Preparation-H wipes with aloe and witch hazel during my pregnancy so far. Dr. Yvonne Bohn, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, suggests taking a "sitz bath," and soaking your bum in water for 20 minutes. “Hemorrhoidal creams that contain a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory agent help,” she tells Romper.
So how can we prevent these awful hemorrhoids — and in turn, hopefully prevent bloody poop? Bohn says you can prevent constipation during pregnancy by “increasing water intake, eating fiber-rich foods, taking a fiber supplement, using a stool softener, and exercising.” A Romper article reported that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said stool softeners, like Colace, are safe for pregnancy, just make sure you talk to your doctor beforehand.
Thankfully, if you’re having some bloody streaks in your poop during pregnancy, it’s typically not too serious, but you can thank pregnancy hormones, the weight of your uterus and the baby, and the slowing down of your intestinal tract. Try to drink more water, use a stool softener, get some walking in, eat fiber-rich foods and even take a fiber supplement to prevent pregnancy constipation. Then hopefully, you won’t have to worry about those terrible hemorrhoids and the bloody poop that sometimes comes with them.
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