Pregnancy: Hemorrhoids and Constipation - Topic Overview
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins at the end of the large
intestine (anus). They often stick out from the anus (external
hemorrhoids). They can also be located on the inside of the lower intestine
(internal hemorrhoids). Bleeding, itching, and pain are common hemorrhoid
Hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy because:
- The enlarged uterus places extra pressure on the
large vein (inferior vena cava) that drains the veins of the large
- Constipation, a common problem during pregnancy, causes
less frequent and more strained bowel movements. The bowels commonly move more
slowly during pregnancy, and iron in prenatal vitamins also can cause
To prevent or ease constipation and hemorrhoids:
- Eat a high-fiber diet (lots of whole fruits,
vegetables, and whole grains).
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially
- Don't strain (push hard) during a bowel
- Increase the amount of exercise you get every day.
To treat the itching or pain of hemorrhoids:
- Keep the anus clean by wiping carefully after
each bowel movement. Gently wipe from the front to the back. Baby wipes or
hemorrhoid pads are usually more gentle than toilet paper. If you use toilet
paper, use only soft, undyed, unscented toilet paper.
- Take warm
soaks in a tub or a
sitz bath. Warm water can help shrink or soothe
hemorrhoids. Add baking soda to the water to relieve itching.
ice pack compresses.
- Avoid sitting for long periods, especially on
Keep your health professional informed of any problems you are having
with constipation or hemorrhoids. He or she may recommend:
- An over-the-counter or prescription medicine to
apply to hemorrhoids to relieve the itching.
- A stool softener to