When I was pregnant, few things crossed my mind other than baby and looking forward to the years ahead. In the meantime, I knew my body was changing. We can feel it.
But there were some things that I didn’t think to prepare for after pregnancy. Sure, my body changed. Things were different. Getting my old form back would take time. All good.
I took to breastfeeding because of the benefits for my baby. Sure, we supplemented with formula when needed. Aside from all the changes, one thing stuck out. My bowels just weren’t the same.
Disclaimer: TMI warning. I had gone from being Ms. Regular to alternating points of constipation and being overly regular. My poor bottom was not liking it. Sitting was even an issue. I had a true to life pain in the you-know-what. Hemorrhoids.
Barely thirty years old and hemorrhoids were tearing my bottom apart.
Keeping it Regular
I did my best to eat healthy before and after my pregnancy. We all do. And I’m pretty sure that my best was pretty good. But with the changes in hormones, the stresses of delivery, and breastfeeding, it still wasn’t sufficient. As if we don’t have enough to worry about.
Those trips to the bathroom were frightening when the red tinge streaked the toilet paper. But once I figured out the cause, I was determined to get things under control.
When dealing with hemorrhoids, keep comfort in mind. Look for foods high in fiber. Avoid anything that binds you up. Dairy is a big contributor to this. Keep in mind that you’ll need to keep up your intake of calcium, protein and fats while breastfeeding.
There are plenty of supplements and alternatives to dairy that can make up for this dietary change.
But I know that the foods aren’t always enough to keep it regular. Sometimes you’ll need to add in a supplement to help move things along. What to look for: over-the-counter preparations containing psyllium or magnesium are safe for breastfeeding moms. Luckily, we have plenty of respected brands to choose from in this category.
On the contrary, avoid supplements containing mineral oil, phenolphthalein, bisacodyl, or castor oil. Why? Because these ingredients can pass through the breast milk to baby, and may cause tummy discomfort in your little one.
Unfortunately, there are many well-known supplements that rely upon these ingredients. Like anything else, always read labels.
Avoiding Hemorrhoid Rage
It’s not easy keeping your cool. Hemorrhoids hurt. Sitting. Walking. Standing. Hot days. Without a doubt the daily acts of life do little to make hemorrhoids easy to bear.
Now, words like “cooling relief” or “suppository” entered my vocabulary. After all I’d been through over nine months of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and now mom life, this was the last thing I thought of.
First, I tried the easy things. Soft pillows under my bum. Very nice. For the first time in what seemed forever I felt pampered. I avoided that aisle in the pharmacy though. Just couldn’t get myself to do it.
My vanity gave in because of the discomfort. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was pleasantly surprised at all the choices before me, caving in to the many ointments and suppositories on the market. If you’re so inclined, even try a sitz bath.
Other options include light exercise. It’ll help stimulate bowel function. For me, the pushing associated with constipation caused my issues. Break out the stroller and get moving with baby. I do admit that sometimes the pain made it very uncomfortable. Still, I mommied on.
Is Preparation H Safe?
All right. It’s time for the question you all want answered. So, after trying the remedies above I was still feeling the burn. I looked and looked, and decided on Preparation H. As a child, I remembered seeing it in the medicine cabinet (am I getting old?).
I asked the pediatrician, and she gave the all clear. Like anything else, I was worried what would happen if it entered my milk.
Preparation H is considered safe while breastfeeding. I was relieved when I found out that there were no studies indicating that it passed from mother to infant via breast milk. I was thrilled in the least! My bottom was ready to move on from this dark episode of motherhood.
So, yes, Preparation H is safe while breastfeeding. However, it could affect milk production.
Preparation H and Milk Production
Take a look at the label for Preparation H. In that small print you’ll notice two of the active ingredients are phenylephrine and pramoxine.
Most likely you know pramoxine by its more common name: hydrocortisone. It’s a local anesthetic that helps take the sting out of hemorrhoids. That instant relief you get from the Preparation H? That’s the pramoxine doing its job. There is no lactation information available for pramoxine, but many physicians consider it safe for use by nursing moms.
Phenylephrine, on the other hand, is technically a decongestant. Its role in Preparation H is to shrink the inflamed blood vessels that are the source of your pain in the rear.
While there are no studies that show its impact upon children of nursing moms, it does pass through breast milk. However, the level of the drug that finds its way into breastmilk seems to be insignificant.
There are studies suggesting that phenylephrine can decrease milk production. However, no human studies exist. Studies performed using animal testing confirmed these findings. Whether or not this impact is applicable to nursing mothers remains unknown.
In light of this, some moms may want to take a closer look as to whether or not Preparation H is safe for them. While there are some indications of potential adverse effects, doctors consider it to be more than safe for nursing moms to use.
Like anything, we moms have plenty of choices to make. No one can make that decision for you. If you’re sitting and reading this, chances are you’ll think it’s worth it.
For more information about breastfeeding, check out the Mom Advice Line Breastfeeding knowledge base.
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Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer screen when the kids are occupied or sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.