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Hemorrhoids. They are not the kind of thing you even really want to think about. Yet, hemorrhoids are are quite a common side effect of pregnancy. Why, and what can you do about them?

What are hemorroids, and what do they have to do with pregnancy?

Hemorrhoids are a variation on varicose veins, in which the rectal veins become inflamed. They can be internal, in which the inflammations stays inside, or external. Pregnancy hormones, an increased blood volume, and pressure on the whole lower area of the body (because of the growing baby and its "baggage", the placenta and amniotic fluid) all contribute to an increased incidence of varicose veins during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids are no exception. Add to this that constipation is also more common during pregnancy and that the hard bowel movements that go along with constipation add to the inflammation, and you understand why hemorrhoids are often an unwelcome guest while you are expecting a baby.

What are the symptoms?

Depending on whether your hemorrhoids are internal or external, you may not notice them for a while. The symptoms include pain and discomfort, which is often worse following a bowel movement, bloody discharge after a bowel movement, mucus discharge, itchiness around the rectum, and bits of skin sticking out.

What can you do about hemorrhoids?

Preventing is better than curing, and the best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to eat plenty of high-fiber foods and to drink enough water always have a glass of water on the go, and don't wait until you feel thirsty. Kegel exercises, not sitting down for long stretches at once, and taking your time to have a bowel movement all help prevent hemorrhoids as well. Once you start showing signs of hemorrhoids, Witch hazel and arnica gels are both anti-inflammatory natural treatments that may help you get rid of your hemorrhoids. A semi-hot bath every day will also help fight hemorrhoids. If you have concerns about overheating during pregnancy, a sitz bath which you put over the toilet is a fantastic alternative to a whole-body bath. Herbal solutions against hemorrhoids will aid your speedy recovery.

For immediate relief, you may find that an ice pack will really help. Have you tried natural remedies and found they did not offer the relief you needed or would you just prefer to bring in the help of conventional medication right away? Make sure that you do not buy over the counter hemorrhoid treatments, because they may not be safe for pregnant women. It is always better to call your family doctor for advice, to make sure your treatment is compatible with pregnancy. Will your hemorrhoids go away after your pregnancy, you may ask?

With the right treatment, they will hopefully go away long before you give birth! If not, hemorrhoids do usually stop being a problem after you have your baby. Some unlucky women will find that the skin bulge that comes with external hemorrhoids does not go away by itself, and these women may need surgery to correct the problem. Don't fret though; this is a very fast and minor procedure. Have you got any questions about hemorrhoids and varicose veins? Why not ask on our second trimester pregnancy forum?