Here’s How to Avoid Hemorrhoids While Pregnant
Pregnancy can be rough on your body. Adding hemorrhoids into the mix could make things even worse.
If you can avoid hemorrhoids while pregnant, you may find those nine months and the postpartum period more pleasant. While there’s no foolproof way to ensure that you won’t develop hemorrhoids during pregnancy, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.
Practice Healthy Bathroom Habits
Constipation is a common pregnancy problem. Research shows that pregnant people are about twice as likely to be constipated compared to the general population.
The hormones flowing through the body during pregnancy are one cause of constipation. Progesterone causes fecal matter to travel through your colon at a slower pace than normal.
Prenatal vitamins can be another source of the problem. Iron supplementation, in particular, is a culprit. Other medications can contribute to constipation too.
When you’re constipated, your chances of developing hemorrhoids may increase. It’s because of the long stretches spent sitting on the toilet and straining to pass bowel movements. Those actions place a lot of pressure on the veins in your rectum.
One way to fight back against constipation is to head to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge for a bowel movement. You’ll find it easier to pass stool, and your digestive system won’t get as backed up.
Include Fiber in Your Diet
Another way to promote regular bowel movements is to eat a high-fiber diet. Fiber is important all the time, but it can be even more so during pregnancy.
Both soluble and insoluble fiber in the food you eat can help keep things moving properly in your gut.
Fruits and vegetables, including their skins, can be good sources of fiber. Whole grains, nuts, beans and seeds offer fiber too. Processed foods, on the other hand, are typically poor sources of fiber.
The typical recommendation is to consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day when pregnant. If you’re not yet hitting that mark, slowly increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Don’t rush the process, or you may end up gassy and bloated.
Drink Plenty of Water
Eating fiber alone isn’t enough. In order for that fiber to keep moving things along, it needs to be paired with water. If you’re dehydrated, your stool is more likely to become dry and hard.
You may need to drink more water when you’re pregnant than during other times. The official recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. You may need up to 12 glasses daily.
In other words, you should be sure to consume 64 to 96 ounces of fluid every day.
Take a Supplement
You may feel that diet alone isn’t enough to solve your fiber problem and keep you regular. In that case, a fiber supplement, a stool softener or another type of laxative might help.
Always discuss these medications with your doctor before beginning. Not all laxatives are recommended for use in pregnancy. Your medical provider might recommend a prescription product or an over-the-counter one.
Watch this video for important supplementation guidance from a nurse:
Watch Your Weight Gain
Constipation isn’t the only thing that contributes to hemorrhoids in pregnancy. As your fetus grows, it puts a strain on your pelvis and rectum. The pressure can lead to inflamed hemorrhoids.
It’s normal and appropriate to gain weight during pregnancy. Not only is the fetus growing, but the placenta and the amniotic fluid contribute pounds as well.
Your goal shouldn’t be to avoid pregnancy weight gain in pursuit of hemorrhoid prevention. Rather, it should be to keep your weight gain within recommended guidelines. For most pregnant people, that means gaining between 25 and 35 pounds.
Your doctor can provide personalized advice about the amount of weight gain that’s right for you.
Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
The muscles in your pelvis provide support for your rectum. By strengthening those muscles, you’ll become less prone to hemorrhoid development.
Kegel exercises are often recommended for toning pelvic floor muscles. Not only are they good for strength-building, but they can also promote healthy blood flow to the rectum and the surrounding area.
This video offers tips on doing Kegel exercises when you’re pregnant:
Pregnancy can leave you feeling tired and worn out. But if you want to avoid hemorrhoids while pregnant, it’s a good idea to keep moving every day.
Staying in one position for too long can increase the pressure on your rectum, which might contribute to hemorrhoids. Don’t sit for long stretches, but also, don’t stay standing for long stretches. Even if you're busy at work or home, prioritize frequent position changes.
Also, try to get gentle exercise every day. Low-impact activities like walking or water aerobics are good for toning and circulation. Yoga is another option for pregnancy fitness.
Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy and Beyond
As hard as you try to avoid hemorrhoids while pregnant, this problem can still crop up. Fortunately, many pregnancy hemorrhoids resolve on their own after delivery.
If your hemorrhoids continue to give you trouble, treatment might be in order. Consider minimally invasive hemorrhoid removal with rubber band ligation. This quick procedure will have you back on your feet in just a day or two. It’s an ideal option for busy new moms.
The Adler Ligator (AL 9000) offers the latest in hemorrhoid banding technology. Visit our Adler Ligator information page to learn how this instrument could help you become hemorrhoid-free.
As with all medical issues, your physician is the ultimate source as to what procedure best fits your needs. Discuss all options and get a second opinion if you have any doubts. These articles are intended to be a source of general information only.