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Pregnancy: Hemorrhoids and Constipation

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Pregnancy: Hemorrhoids and Constipation

Overview

Constipation and hemorrhoids are common problems during pregnancy.

Constipation

Constipation causes less frequent and more strained bowel movements. The bowels commonly move more slowly when you're pregnant. And iron in prenatal vitamins also can cause constipation during pregnancy.

Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins at the end of the large intestine (anus). They are often external. This means they stick out of the anus. They can also be internal. This means they are inside the lower intestine.

Hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy, because:

  • The enlarged uterus puts pressure on a large vein called the inferior vena cava. This vein drains the veins of the large intestine.
  • Constipation causes fewer and more strained bowel movements.

Pain, itching, and bright red blood on your stool are common symptoms of hemorrhoids.

Reducing constipation

If you're constipated during pregnancy, try these tips to make going to the bathroom a little easier.

  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Eat more fiber.

    Vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains are good choices.

  • Have a set time to "go."
  • Don't push too hard during a bowel movement.

    Try to relax and let things happen naturally.

  • Move more.

    Walking can help get things moving.

  • Talk to your doctor or midwife if you're constipated a lot.

    They may recommend a stool softener.

Easing hemorrhoid pain

Here's help for the pain and itching that these swollen veins can cause.

  • Wipe your bottom gently.

    Try baby wipes instead of toilet paper. You can also use a squirt bottle after a bowel movement.

  • Soak in a tub or a sitz bath.

    A sitz bath is a bowl-like basin you put over a toilet seat and fill with water. Add baking soda to help with itching.

  • Use ice.

    Try an ice pack. Or put crushed ice in a plastic bag, and cover it with a thin towel.

  • Avoid sitting for long periods.

    Sit on softer chairs. If you have a U-shaped nursing pillow, try using that now to sit on.

  • Talk to your doctor or midwife.

    They can help if hemorrhoids still bother you or if you're constipated. They may recommend a stool softener or a cream.

Credits

Current as of: July 11, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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