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Preventing and treating hemorrhoids during pregnancy

Baby_bellyIncreased risk of hemorrhoids is a common but very unwelcome part of pregnancy.  So you may be wondering what can you do to prevent them, and what can you do to treat them.

What are hemorrhoids, and why are we more likely to get them during pregnancy?

Hemorrhoids are a result of increased blood flow in pregnancy, particularly to those below your uterus.  These veins can become dilated and swollen, and itch, burn, and bleed.

How can you prevent hemorrhoids in pregnancy?

The key to preventing hemorrhoids is avoiding constipation, which puts extra pressure on your rectum during bowel movements.  To prevent or reduce constipation, you can:

  • Push fluids.  Increase your water take to at least 8-10 glasses a day.
  • Increase fiber.  Eat whole fruits and vegetables, and add other forms of fiber (flax seeds, chia seeds, oat or wheat bran, or other high fiber powder) to smoothies and drinks.  How about a high fiber blueberry pomegranate flax seed smoothie?
  • Eat anti-constipation foods.  Some recommendations are prunes, apricots, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, and figs.
  • Keep moving.  Exercise (as your provider recommends) will keep things moving internally.
  • Do Kegels.  According to About.com, kegels are beneficial because they increase circulation to the area and because they strengthen vaginal and perineal muscles, which will help healing after delivery.

If you have hemorrhoids, what can you do to treat them?

  • Avoid further constipation (see suggestions above)
  • Take it easy – Avoid strenuous lifting, and lie down when you can to take the pressure off
  • Keep the area clean – Using wipes instead of toilet paper will keep the area clean may be more comfortable
  • Use a hemmorhoid balm – Use our Rhoid Balm during pregnancy and after for immediate relief for inflamed tissues.  It’s an all-natural herbal balm with zero toxins and is made with 100% certified organic ingredients.
  • Try a sitz bath – Try our Sitz Bath, Sitz Bath Spray, or Sitz Bath Concentrate to relieve discomfort - and save some for after your baby arrives to soothe sore perineal muscles, too!  Sit in the bath with enough water to soak the area, or on the toilet using a special sitz bath basin. Or use our Sitz Bath Spray directly on the area.
  • Ice the area:  Sitting on an carefully covered ice pack may provide some relief.
  • And finally, don’t despair!   Your hemorrhoids should start to go away once your baby arrives.

Image credit:  Wikimedia Commons

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Tender tush? Some tips for taking care of your perineum after birth

If you’ve had a vaginal birth, taking care of your (likely sore) bottom can be a bit of a job in the early days after your baby’s birth.  Here are some simple things you can do to relieve pain and bounce back quicker:*

Cold compresses.  Many moms use ice packs to reduce swelling and soothe pain in the early hours after birth.  Be sure to wrap cold packs in a soft cloth or other soft material so that the cold pack doesn’t directly touch your tissues. Some moms wet and freeze their pads to create convenient cold compresses.

Sitz baths.  Warm water, especially when infused with healing herbs, can do wonders for tender tissues.  You can make a sitz bath in a bathtub or with a basin that fits over your toilet seat (in the hospital, ask your nurse for help with this).  Added to your bath, our Sitz Bath and Sitz Bath Concentrate soothe sore perineal muscles, reduce swelling, slow bleeding, and help ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids.  Our Sitz Bath Spray can be sprayed directly on your perineum an offers the same relief.  All of our sitz bath products have a zero rating (zero toxins) on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database and are made with 100% certified organic ingredients.

Witch hazel.  Witch hazel is an herb which is soothing to sore, swollen tissue, and especially helpful with hemorrhoids.  You can buy witch hazel soaked pads.  You’ll also find witch hazel in our organic Rhoid Balm, which relieves swelling and itching during pregnancy and after birth, and in our sitz bath products.

Peri bottle.  Many moms who have had tears, stitches, or episiotomies find it soothing to spray their perineum (front to back) with warm water after or during urination.  Peri bottles make this easy.  It can be especially helpful to use a peri bottle while urinating if you have stinging pain when using the toilet.

Medications.  Your health care providers can discuss over the counter and prescription medication options that are safe for breastfeeding.  If you have additional questions about pain medications and breastfeeding, you can call the Infant Risk Center for free information from a knowledgeable and breastfeeding-friendly pharmacist.

* This post is not intended as medical advice.  For medical advice, seek the recommendations of your health care provider.

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