What to do about Hip Pain in Pregnancy

Pregnant and experiencing Hip Pain?

I’ve never been pregnant before, this is my first child for both my husband and I. We were both at the time, very excited and very nervous. It’s all part of the process I guess.

Maybe you can relate.

Things were going well, baby was growing at the expected rate and no other complications seemed apparent.

But it wasn’t until my 6th month of pregnancy, I was naturally heavy in weight and circumference, that I started to feel some serious hip pain.

It took some time to actually figure out it was hip pain during my pregnancy. But once we did, both my husband and I set a plan to work through it, and apply some exercises and treatment to alleviate the discomfort.

hip pain while pregnant

I was in great shape before I got pregnant, keeping myself fit and healthy so this was a surprise in part.

However, none of that really makes any difference as your body will give you tell tell signs when things are not quite right regardless of how fit or healthy you are.

What follows below is some useful advice that helped me during my time of pregnancy and the hip pain I was experiencing as a consequence.

I have to be honest, at times I found the feeling of hip pain almost unbearable. It made me anxious and frustrated and scared.

Why me I had thought. But this was definitely down to the fact, I didn’t know anything about hip pain and being pregnant. So basically, I needed to up skill myself which is what I did.

And you know what? Once I knew what I needed to know and what I can do about it, the anxiety left me. I felt so much better both physically and mentally because let’s face it, carrying another human being in your stomach for 9 months, is a big deal.

I hope you find this information useful to your circumstances and apply where it may help you. Please if you have any questions, just ask at the bottom of this post. I’m here.

Oh, and my name is Yvonne, I’m 28 from Auckland, New Zealand.

When women experience hip pain during pregnancy, they aren’t alone. Approximately 20% of women encounter it at some point; while it’s sometimes focused on the back or the side of the hip, in other cases, it’s found in the wider pelvic area.

It might feel sharp or dull, and it may come on suddenly or be gradual.

Hip pain may start at any time during pregnancy, but it’s much more common in the second and third trimesters as the body gets ready for birth. Read on to find out how to prevent and manage pregnancy-related hip pain.

The Article Below has been reviewed by Independent Midwife Kelly Scott. Kelly graduated with a Bachelor in Health Science – Midwifery in 2009 (BHSc). For the last 10 years, Kelly has worked in a range of mother pregnancy settings. She currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand caring for many mums and their babies.

Hip Pain in Pregnancy: What Causes It?

hip pain during pregnancy

Women suffer from hip pain during pregnancy for various reasons, and in most instances, it’s not indicative of a complication or a mistake on their part. Below are five of the most common causes.

• Relaxin:

As its name implies, this hormone relaxes the tissues connecting the bones throughout the body. Its levels increase during pregnancy, causing hip pain, back pain, and pelvic discomfort.

• Weight gain:

As baby and mom gain weight, it puts more stress on the mother’s joints and bones. When weight gain is excessive, hip pain may be more severe. Generally, a woman who was at a healthy weight before pregnancy should gain 25-35 pounds.

• Improper posture:

A woman’s posture may change as she gains weight that’s redistributed around her midsection. Not only that, if the baby prefers one side over the other, it may cause body aches. Wear supportive shoes during pregnancy, and try to minimize heavy lifting.

• Pregnancy-related osteoporosis:

Some cases of hip pain may be due to demineralization in the hip bones, or what’s referred to as transient osteoporosis. While the condition typically disappears after the child is born, it sometimes takes longer to heal.

• Sleeping position:

pregnant sleeping

Side sleepers often suffer from hip pain during pregnancy as fewer sleeping positions become available. However, if it bothers the mother’s hips, she should sleep with a pillow between the knees.

• Sedentary lifestyles:

The nature of a pregnancy depends mostly on the mom’s lifestyle beforehand. Sports and exercise make the back muscles and the spine stronger, and they make the joints more flexible.

All this is great preparation for the strain pregnancy puts on the body.

OBGYNs and other doctors may be able to recommend ways to minimize hip pain throughout pregnancy. If the pain is bothersome, see a doctor right away.

What Does Pelvic and Hip Pain Feel Like During a Pregnancy?

To understand pregnancy-related hip pain, it helps to know where the hips and pelvis are in relation to each other. The pelvis is situated at the base of the spine, and the hips are the joints on either side of the pelvis.

If there’s pain in the hip or pelvic area, it might be hard to tell where it’s coming from. Hip or pelvic pain may feel similar to back pain, especially if it’s widespread, and most women suffer from back pain during pregnancy.

A healthcare provider will make a proper diagnosis.

Early Pregnancy Pain

While it’s uncommon in the first trimester, it’s possible to have hip pain in early pregnancy. When a woman gets pregnant, hormones and ligament stretching causes her body’s center of gravity to change, which may lead to hip pain.

Toward the end of the first three months, a woman may experience pain if she sleeps on her back or gains too much weight.

How Long is Too Long to Deal With Pain?

As mentioned before, hip pain typically starts during the second trimester of pregnancy, which is normal. However, it’s important to take preventive steps at the first sign of pain.

Document it if possible; note when it starts and where it’s felt. Talk to a doctor to find out what should (and shouldn’t) be done.

Unless it’s recommended by a doctor, don’t take any prescription painkillers. During delivery, pain is normal, but the mom should speak with the delivery doctor if there’s serious pelvic pain.

Home Remedies for Pregnancy Hip Pain

When a mother’s hip pain is particularly limiting or severe, she should consider visiting a pregnancy-focused physical therapist or chiropractor for an evaluation.

Between appointments, though, there are things to do at home to help.

• Yoga: Stretching might provide some relief by loosening tight hip muscles, and yoga is great during pregnancy because it’s a gentle, low-impact exercise. If a mom goes to yoga classes, she should be sure to let the instructor know she’s pregnant.

pregnant with hip pain

• Over the counter pain relievers: Beyond stretches and other exercises, some moms find relief in OTC or over the counter pain relievers. Ask a doctor which ones are best for pregnant women, and at what dosage they should be taken.

For instance, acetaminophen is generally regarded as safe for use during pregnancy.

• Warm compresses and baths: When using temperature to treat pregnancy hip pain, it’s important to use heat rather than cold.

Warmth increases blood flow to the affected area, lessening muscle spasms and decreasing joint stiffness. Use a warm towel or a heating pad for 10-15 minutes at a time, being sure to avoid putting the heating pad on the stomach.

Warm baths may help as well; however, it’s important to ensure that the water is not too hot. Consider stirring in a half-cup of Epsom salts (also known as magnesium sulfate) to release tight muscles.

• Pregnancy massage: A partner or a massage therapist can massage some areas around the hips to minimize pressure and pain.

pregnant massage

Thankfully, leg and side-lying hip massage can easily and safely be done at home.

• Use props: As a pregnancy progresses, sleeping and sitting may become more difficult. Use a body pillow when sleeping and try different sleep positions.

Consider an egg crate or foam mattress topper as an inexpensive way to soften a firm mattress. When sitting, a lumbar pillow will help the tendons in the sides and front of the hips to stay relaxed.

These are just some of the ways expectant mothers can relieve hip and pelvic pain. A healthcare provider or therapist may recommend additional measures.

When to Get Help for Hip Pain during pregnancy

While it’s normal to feel some degree of hip discomfort during pregnancy, women should seek medical treatment if the pain interferes with daily activities. For instance, a mom should go to the doctor if she finds herself avoiding some activities because they cause pain.

Severe pain is typically an indication that something’s wrong. Pressure and pain may be signs of premature labor, especially if they’re accompanied by contractions.

These may feel like stomach cramps that come in ever-shorter intervals, and they often come with abnormal vaginal discharge.

Preventing Hip Pain During Pregnancy

If a mom wants to stop hip pain before it becomes an issue, there are a few things to try. However, it’s important to note that these steps won’t work for every woman.

• Stay active throughout pregnancy. Low-impact workouts, such as swimming, cycling, and walking, are great ways to minimize hip pain.

• Don’t gain too much weight. “Eating for two” is a myth; generally, a woman only needs to eat about 300 extra calories per day to support a growing baby.

• Wear supportive, flat shoes with great arch support every day. Try to sit down as much as possible if pain starts to become a problem.

• Practice proper posture when standing, lifting, or sitting.

• Avoid activities that might aggravate hip pain, such as standing for a long time, lifting heavy things, vacuuming, or crossing legs.

• Buy a pregnancy belt to support the hip joints all day.

pregnancy belt

• Consider regular prenatal massages as a way to keep the muscles loose.

Extra Information: By Kelly Scott – Independent Midwife, Auckland, New Zealand. Relaxin is a hormone produced during pregnancy. Its purpose is to soften and relax the ligaments in your pelvis, as well as soften the cervix in preparation for labour and birth. Your pelvis is not one solid bone but is made up of bones which are joined by ligaments. By softening the ligaments between the sacroiliac joints, the pubic symphysis and the hips joints it allows your pelvis to widen and creates more room for your baby to descend into and manoeuvre through your pelvis during the birthing process. Important information: Although sleeping on your side can cause hip pain, side sleeping is recommended after the first trimester of pregnancy (your left side is preferred). It is advised not to sleep on your back when you are pregnant. Sleeping on your back causes your baby to put pressure on major blood vessels that run to and from your heart, and this pressure decreases blood flow and therefore oxygen to your baby. Sleeping on your back can increase the risk of stillbirth.

In Closing

Thankfully, pregnancy-related hip pain will probably subside after the baby is born.

While hip pain may be part of pregnancy, especially if the delivery date is close, it doesn’t have to be debilitating.

If these stretches, exercises, and other comfort tips don’t bring relief, consider making an appointment with a doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist.