As one of Atlanta Birth Center’s newest bloggers (although I’ve been a member of our social media team for a while now… you are a fan of our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter, right?) I figured what better way to begin than at the end — end of the rear variety, that is.
Today we are going to talk about the big H, one of those not-so-fun but common pregnancy ailments many women are often hesitant to talk about: HEMORRHOIDS. This is one post in a series we will continue to share on common pregnancy ailments and tips on how you can cope.
If you have experienced hemorrhoids during pregnancy you may be aware of many women’s tendency to discreetly go about finding a potential solution to this problem. Perhaps you have quietly scanned the suppositories and creams in your drugstore aisle, engaged in covert googling during a quick break at work, or made furtive, early morning phone calls to your doctor or midwife begging in whispered tones for help. Or maybe you’re thinking, “Oh that’s silly; why be embarrassed about something like that?” Truth be told, I am not sure which of these women I was; perhaps I was somewhere in the middle. What I do know is this post is for all of us — the closet hemorrhoid sufferer and the hemorrhoid shout-it-from-the-rooftops warrior alike.
Before my pregnancy last year I had experienced hemorrhoids on occasion, but the extra weight and both straining during bowel movements and having loose stools (I know, I know… but I didn’t promise a post on hemorrhoids would be glamorous, did I?) aggravated my propensity toward the little buggers. I then worked with the guidance of my midwives to compile an arsenal of products to fight my pretty painful case of external hemorrhoids. For some women with hemorrhoids, an underlying issue that can make them much worse is constipation. This can be avoided with plenty of water as well as fiber, prune or pear juice, yogurt and/or probiotics. Magnesium supplementation and over the counter stool softners can help too.
Step 1: Buy a really cute clutch or makeup bag to store your items
This was a must for me because I had to bring my bag with me to my corporate job, carting it back and forth from my cubicle desk to the restroom multiple times a day. I wanted something that would look like perhaps I was just going to powder my nose, not that would imply I was preparing to enter into battle with my bum for the third time that day. My bag of choice was leopard print; pick something you like and maybe even name your new bag. For the record, I called mine my “butt pack” — just not at work because that would have blown my whole nose-powdering cover. And for heavens’ sake, don’t buy a translucent bag, unless you just don’t care who knows what’s going on down there. (If that’s you, I seriously tip my hat to your confident self.)
Step 2: Fill your bag with your weapons of choice.
My butt pack consisted of:
- Witch hazel pads (such as Tucks but you can also make your own, which I did for all my home applications by using a large bottle of pure witch hazel and makeup-type cotton pads from the drugstore)
- Arnica homeopathic gel
- Arnica homeopathic pills
- Aesculus Hippocastanum homeopathic pills
- Geranium essential oils
- Cypress essential oils
- Makeup-type cotton pads
- Anusol gel (available in over-the-counter or prescription version, so ask your midwife or doctor which is right for you)
- Epsom salts (this comes in a large container and you will use this at home, not on the go)
Also, before my situation went from bad to worse I tried Preparation H, which seems to help best, at least in my experience, with more mild cases. You should be able to find all these items by visiting your local drugstore as well as the health and wellness section of a grocer such as Whole Foods.
Step 3: Come up with a treatment plan and stick to it.
Here is what I did:
- Three times per day: Wipe your derriere with one of your witch hazel pads, apply arnica gel externally, let both an aesculus hippocastanum and arnica pill dissolve beneath your tongue, and apply a few drops of geranium essential oils to a makeup-type or witch hazel pad, stick it where the sun don’t shine, and leave it for a couple hours
- Every evening: apply a few drops of cypress essential oils onto a makeup-type or witch hazel pad (make sure you dilute this oil in particular with water and/or witch hazel; I made the mistake of not diluting at first and, boy, can cypress sting!) and do an application of Anusol gel
- At the end of a long, hard day or as needed: take an Epsom salt bath
Step 4: Check with your midwife or doctor to see what other options may be available to you and what should make up your overall treatment plan
Okay, this step should really come at the very top of the pack, way before buying a leopard print clutch. My midwife helped me come up with the largely homeopathic treatment plan outlined above. In my case, this counsel also meant my husband tried to push my hemorrhoid inside my anus. (Yep, you read that right. By the way, how many of you are still with me?) This could have hypothetically provided some temporary relief but unfortunately didn’t work, and we’ll just leave that tale (and tail) at that. I tried a prescription suppository briefly as well but to no avail.
In the end, the hemorrhoids did remain through the duration of my pregnancy, so while it wasn’t a cure-all my kit did enable me to cope with and lessen the intensity of my hemorrhoids. I went from being in so much pain I had to call in to work, to being uncomfortable, to finally just knowing they were indeed still there although they weren’t actively bothering me.
Because my hemorrhoids remained, er, behind, I struggled with fear about making them worse while pushing out a baby. However in my case I found they did not complicate things. I did discuss these fears with my midwife before labor and she assured me my hemorrhoids were nowhere near the degree they would need to be to affect a vaginal delivery. Apparently and thankfully that is rare, although in some extreme cases women may be advised to see a colorectal specialist before labor. As always, please talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.
For those of you who have hung in with me until the (rear) end, thank you. Have any of you experienced hemorrhoids either during pregnancy or as a result of childbirth? If so, what did your treatment regimen include? Also feel free to let me know in the comments what other common pregnancy ailments you’d like to make sure we cover in this series — shortness of breath? Sciatica? Trouble sleeping?
*As with any condition, please only take these tips antecdotally and consult your midwife or physician before compiling your own treatment regimen for any hemorrhoids you may be experiencing.
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