There are a few nasty lil secrets about pregnancy that only your closest girlfriends divulge. I was unaware of the "H" factor until a friend who shared my same due date called me and inquired, "I have got the worst hemorrhoids! Do you?!" Sympathetic and embarrassed for her, I was relieved to answer, "heavens no!"

My OB/GYN says that about half of her patients develop the unsightly and irritating condition at some point during the child-bearing stage. Many women deal with them in the third trimester while others get them during labor. Constipated mothers often get them as a result of straining during bowel movements, excess weight gain, and sitting or standing for long periods of time.

To see how mothers can treat or even prevent hemorrhoids,

The March of Dimes recommends the following steps to keep your bum happy.

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day. One to two glasses of fruit juices, such as prune juice, is also helpful.
  • Eat foods high in fiber. Eat raw fruits, vegetables, bran cereals, and other sources of fiber. If you are also suffering from increased gas, introduce fiber into your diet gradually. Wheat bran is a good fiber supplement, since it causes less gas than other fiber-rich foods.
  • Exercise regularly. Walking and engaging in other safe activities for at least 30 minutes per day help the digestive system do its work. Always be sure to find out from your healthcare provider what exercises are safe for you and how long you can maintain your exercise program.
  • Don't delay. Always go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge. When you delay, it becomes harder to pass stool.
  • Don't gain too much weight. Gain a sensible amount of weight. Stay within the guidelines your healthcare provider sets. Excess pounds put additional pressure on your abdomen, increasing your chances of getting hemorrhoids.
  • Avoid long periods of standing or sitting. If you must sit for long periods, get up and move around for a few minutes every hour or so. When lying down, lie on your left side to help take the pressure off.

For relief, try these steps.

  • Soak your rectal area in warm water for 10 to 20 minutes at a time several times a day. At most drug stores, you can get a sitz bath that you can use for this. A sitz bath is a small basin that fits over the seat of the toilet.
  • Ask your healthcare provider about which over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams are safe to use.
  • Use unscented, white brands of toilet paper. Some women find it helpful to wipe the anal area with moist towelettes, wet toilet paper, or medicated pads instead of toilet paper.
  • Keep the anal area clean. Soap isn't necessary and may aggravate the problem. Be careful to gently dry the area after bathing, since moisture can cause irritation.
  • Apply ice packs or cold compresses for 10 minutes up to four times a day.
  • If a hemorrhoid begins to stick out, gently push it back into the rectal canal.