It itches, swells, and even bleeds. “It burns, burns, burns” too, but I doubt Johnny Cash had hemorrhoids in mind when he wrote that famous song. Though it may have sounded a bit different if he did!
Pregnancy is a wonderful, awesome thing. With some really uncomfortable side effects -- one of which can be the ring of fire. Some lucky women never experience the wonder that is a varicose vein in your butt, but those who do never forget it.
You’ll know if you have hemorrhoids because you’ll feel swelling and pressure inside your rectum, plus the very familiar itching and burning that we all hear about. What isn’t advertised on those medication commercials is that sometimes the hemorrhoids will make their way outside -- and that’s why it’s so very uncomfortable to sit.
Lucky for you, there are some things you can do to get a little relief, and even prevent hemorrhoids.
There are some things you can’t control, like your body’s increased blood volume and the pressure that your ever-expanding uterus is placing on all those lower blood vessels -- these two things alone can cause hemorrhoids.
But, you can help control one of the other causes: constipation and straining. Drink tons and tons of water (I know the bladder issue doesn’t help this, but do it anyway), eat a super high-fiber diet (lots of bananas and apples, oodles of leafy greens), and do your Kegels! The Kegels will help with blood circulation and help strengthen the rectal muscles, so they can hold in any potentially rogue hemorrhoids.
Treating pregnancy hemorrhoids is pretty much the same for any other kind. It’s mainly focused on relief. Some things that can help are:
- Ice packs: Great especially if you have the external type because the cold will help reduce swelling and numb some of the itch. Sometimes adding witch hazel to a damp ice pack helps.
- Warm water: Soak in a warm bathtub or a sitz bath (some of these even fit the toilet, so you don’t have to worry about climbing in and out of a bathtub).
- Alternate warm and cold: Do the bath for 20 minutes and then an ice pack, repeating the process a few times. If you are very pregnant, you should probably only do this with a sitz bath, because the repeated up and down gets tiring -- and dangerous -- quickly.
- Medicated wipes: Just like baby wipes, except with a topical hemorrhoid medication. Sometimes just plain baby wipes will feel good, but both are an easy way to keep that area really clean without irritating it further.
- Medication: Most OTC hemorrhoid treatments are only meant to be used for about a week. Your doctor can tell you if you may use them longer, or she can even prescribe a topical cream or (gulp) suppository.
If you do all these things and are still completely miserable, see your doctor. If, at any point, you start bleeding from the rectum, see your doctor. If you are still having problems well past delivery, see your doctor. Most of the time pregnancy hemorrhoids dissipate after delivery relieves all that extra pressure. But some cases are persistent enough to require the help of a specialist or surgeon, which is definitely preferable to spending your life savings on Preparation H!
Have you been dealing with hemorrhoids during your pregnancy? What are your tips for relieving that burning, itchy feeling?
Image via Soham Pablo/Flickr