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Constipation, Hemorrhoids and Other Joys of Pregnancy

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Pregnancy related image Photo: Getty Images

No one told you that getting pregnant would lead to more than just pickle and ice cream cravings. Alas, despite the wonderful physical effects of pregnancy--thicker hair, radiant skin, and of course the baby growing within--many women suffer not-so-wonderful symptoms as well.

Nausea, sore breasts, and bloating are well-known symptoms of early pregnancy. But not many women talk about the less glamorous symptoms that can occur as pregnancy progresses, particularly those associated with the digestive system.

Hormonal changes can lead to queasiness and morning sickness, particularly during the first trimester of pregnancy. Passing gas may become a more common occurrence. No, you are not the only one who’s experienced that embarrassing symptom!

In addition, because the uterus is growing, a woman’s stomach and intestines are somewhat displaced during the course of pregnancy. By 40 weeks, the stomach is actually vertical rather than horizontal. These changes can lead to heartburn.

Stomach discomfort is not uncommon during pregnancy. Some women experience loose stool. Others suffer from constipation—almost half of all pregnant women, in fact. A fiber-rich diet—25-30 grams of fiber per day—and drinking at least 10 daily cups of water or other fluids can help keep you regular. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. Prunes and figs are particularly high in fiber.

Getting regular exercise can help prevent constipation. While your exercise regimen may be less intense than it was pre-pregnancy, walking, swimming or practicing yoga three times a week for at least 20-30 minutes can keep your digestive system running smoothly.

Constipation can irritate or even cause hemorrhoids, which affect 20-50 percent of pregnant women. A hemorrhoid is an enlarged, or varicose, vein in the rectum. These varicosities also can result from pressure as the uterus grows and increased blood flow to the pelvis. While not dangerous, hemorrhoids are uncomfortable. They can cause painful bowel movements and burning or itchiness around the anus.

Preventing constipation can help reduce the risk of hemorrhoids.

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EmpowHER Guest

Oh my gosh!!! I had accidentally been using prep h on my sergical incision and was freaking out when I found out what is was. I googled it for information and found that people have been using it for years for incisions. Actually I think it helped with healing, itching and cooled it down.

March 14, 2013 - 4:01am
EmpowHER Guest

Interesting post!
Being a woman is not easy...
I found a ton of info on hemorrhoids on this website:
I hope you'll find it useful as well.

May 12, 2011 - 7:42am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.