Pregnancy hemorrhoids. They're like regular hemorrhoids, but a billion times worse because, you know, you're pregnant. It's like how getting the wrong Chipotle order is bad enough, but when that happens during pregnancy, it's like the gates of hell have swallowed you whole. But if you know how to avoid pregnancy hemorrhoids, it can make it less devastating to get a burrito without guac. (Just kidding, nothing can fix that.)
The awful thing is, pregnancy hemorrhoids are fairly common. According to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), symptomatic hemorrhoids accompanied by itching, pain, and bleeding develop in one third of all pregnant women. Initially, these are treated with increased fiber and water in a woman's diet, but if the hemorrhoids progress, some women may require surgery or endoscopic therapy to treat them.
So how can you avoid stocking your bathroom with Preparation H or preparing for surgery? The American Pregnancy Association noted that the absolute best way you can prevent pregnancy hemorrhoids is to avoid being constipated. According to the association, hemorrhoids are related to constipation. When combined with increased pressure on the rectum and perineum as you try to have a bowel movement, hemorrhoids are likely. The same information compiled by the ACG also noted that constipation also occurs in one third of all pregnant women, making it another common complaint, and now it's just a big circle of wanting to have a bowel movement, but being in too much pain to do it.
I know; I'm not painting a pretty picture of pregnancy and you're probably a little panicky about being constipated and experiencing hemorrhoids. But luckily, there are a few things you can do. First, you'll want to make sure you're preventing constipation as best you can. Mayo Clinic suggested eating adequate amounts of fiber (fill up that Chipotle burrito with the black beans, y'all), drink plenty of water, make sure to do some kind of physical activity like going for a walk each day, and talk to your doctor about fiber supplements or stool softeners to avoid too much pressure on your rectum during a bowel movement.
If you are constipated, it's OK. But the American Pregnancy Association recommended that when you do have a bowel movement, try not to strain. Talk to your doctor about what things you can take to help with constipation other than pushing or trying to force a bowel movement that can result in hemorrhoids.
Pregnancy hemorrhoids may be common, but they are avoidable. Eat plenty of fiber and get some practice walks in with that new stroller and you should be OK. Postpartum hemorrhoids, however, are a whole new ball game. (I know. You have so much to look forward to.)