Hip Pain During Pregnancy
As if pregnancy isn’t hard enough—headaches, morning sickness, diabolical food cravings, and leg cramps—many women find that hip pain also rears its ugly head at some point during pregnancy.
Haven’t experienced it yet? Hopefully, you won’t. But if you’re one of the many pregnant women who has found herself bent double in hip pain and wondering why oh why, this article is for you.
We’ll give you the skinny on what causes hip pain and what remedies actually work. After all, you don’t have time for another pregnancy woe while you’re trying to enjoy this fleeting time in motherhood. Let’s get straight to it.
In this article:
- What Causes Hip Pain During Pregnancy?
- Is Hip Pain Common During Pregnancy?
- Home Remedies To Relieve Hip Pain During Pregnancy
- When To Call A Doctor
What Causes Hip Pain During Pregnancy?
As your pregnancy advances, usually in the second or third trimester, you may experience hip pain. This is because, during pregnancy, your body releases hormones that loosen connective tissue in the pelvis in preparation for labor.
But this isn’t the only reason you may have hip pain. Change in your posture coupled with the weight of the uterus can be a contributing factor.
Even your sleep position can cause hip pain. As your due date approaches, you may find it harder and harder to sleep in any position other than on your side. Unfortunately, this can cause hip pain due to added pressure on the pelvis. However, side-sleeping is a necessity for other medical reasons including proper circulation for your growing baby.
In some cases, pregnant women experience sciatic nerve pain, which generates from inside the pelvis and radiates out to the lower back, buttocks, hips, and thighs. If you experience a jolting sensation on one side of your buttocks and leg, this may be the culprit for your hip pain.
Believe it or not, there’s more. According to a study conducted by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Louisiana State University’s Medical Center, yet another lesser-known cause of hip pain could be a decrease in bone mineral content. Luckily, this loss is reversible and, while it can cause considerable pain, is not a threat to your long-term health.
Lastly, round ligament pain could also be a cause. Unlike the other potential causes we’ve mentioned, round ligament pain is mostly experienced in the second trimester. Associated with quick movements or changes in position, round ligament pain is considered a normal part of a healthy pregnancy, as these ligaments stretch in support of a growing uterus. The byproduct? Fleeting pain as these ligaments “catch up” with your movements.
Wondering why your hip pain seems to be worse in second, third, or fourth pregnancies? Studies show that, with each subsequent pregnancy, hip pain seems to increase in frequency and intensity. No matter what the reason for your pain, though, you are certainly not alone.
Is Hip Pain Common During Pregnancy?
It is absolutely normal to experience hip pain during pregnancy. During your second and third trimesters, your body is changing, growing, and preparing for the eventual birth of your baby. In other words, there’s a LOT going on inside that body of yours.
Ligaments and joints feel the extra pressure of the growing baby and uterus, so don’t worry if, as you approach the end of your pregnancy, this pain increases in intensity and frequency. Is there a point where you should see a doctor? Absolutely, but we’ll talk more about that below.
Home Remedies To Relieve Hip Pain During Pregnancy
As you already know, your options are limited when it comes to finding reprieve from hip pain (or any other malady for that matter) during pregnancy. However, other options can give you relief.
Prenatal massage is known to minimize the hip pain associated with pregnancy. Plus, it gives you an excuse to get that massage you’ve been dying for. Some advice: be sure to find a massage therapist familiar with pregnancy and the unique challenges it introduces.
Frequent, low-impact exercise can also contribute to the minimization of hip pain. But, don’t get started on a workout plan until you’ve consulted your doctor. He or she can help you avoid movements that could make the problem worse.
You can try taking a warm (not too hot) bath or applying a warm compress to the area causing you pain. Also, focus on good posture throughout the day and, when you climb into bed in the evening, lay on your side with a pillow between your knees to stabilize the hips. You may be surprised how much this simple method relieves your pain.
Some other remedies include:
- Wearing low-heeled or flat shoes
- Reducing weight-bearing activities if possible: climbing stairs, standing/walking for long periods.
- Avoiding standing or leaning primarily on one leg: sitting down to get dressed.
- Avoiding movements involving hip abduction: getting in/out of cars or baths, squatting.
Be sure to consult with your OBGYN before you use any topical cream, medicine, or heating pad—no matter how desperate you may get.
When To Call A Doctor
If your hip pain becomes unbearable, and the methods outlined above don’t seem to be giving you any relief, it may be time to see a doctor. Even though hip pain is a natural occurrence in most pregnancies, there could be other issues exacerbating the problem.
Sciatica pain, for example, is common during pregnancy, but there are other factors that could contribute to this pain. The bottom line: the more you tell your doctor about what you’re experiencing, the better and more accurate the treatment you can expect to receive.
Last, but certainly not least, if your hip pain is accompanied by pressure and you haven’t yet reached the 37th week of your pregnancy, you should contact your OB. You could be experiencing preterm labor. If you’re ever concerned that the pain you’re experiencing is beyond the norm, a call to your doctor is in order. Even if you’re wrong, it’s best to be cautious for the sake of not only your health but also the health of your baby.
- Carrie Busch