Perhaps one of the most annoying pregnancy or postpartum nuisances, hemorrhoids affect around 50% of all pregnant people and there’s no need to be embarassed about asking for help dealing with them. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum which are similar to varicose veins. Hemorrhoids have a number of causes and may result from straining during bowel movements or from the increased pressure on these veins during pregnancy (especially in the third trimester).

If you didn’t have hemorrhoids during pregnancy, they may appear soon after birth and existing hemorrhoids could be made worse. You may experience pain, rectal itching, or even bleeding after a bowel movement. There are ways to ease the discomfort and help shrink the hemorrhoids. 

  • Try a sitz bath (a basin filled with warm water) or soak in warm water 2-4 times a day. You might choose to add healing herbs or essentials oils. 
  • Apply witch hazel! Pro tip: soak baby wash cloths or cloth wipes with witch hazel and store them in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Apply directly to the hemorrhoids and change them out as needed. The witch hazel and cold will help shrink the hemorrhoids. 
  • Creams, ointments, suppositories and sprays as well as stool softeners are also available over-the-counter and can produce short term relief. Most area hospitals will send patients home with treatment options if asked. Be sure to talk to your provider before begining any treatments.
  • Avoiding sitting upright (especially for long periods of time) to prevent hemorrhoids from worsening. Try laying on your side.  If sitting upright is unavoidable, you can use a pillow or soft cushion. 

Your doula can help you prepare and prep for the possibility of hemorrhoids and other unexpected inconveniences or hurdles. We’re not just for birth support, we’re here for pregnancy and postpartum support, too!

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