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Pregnancy is such an exciting period, but not all the time because there are times that it also causes pain and aches as your body changes. Hip pain is just one of the most common side effects of pregnancy, particularly as the baby develops within the last trimester.
For several expectant mothers, it is just a bit of annoyance, but for others, it can interfere with their daily activities and can even lead them to sleepless nights because of pain.
What causes hip pain during pregnancy?
There are several components that cause hip pain during pregnancy which include:
- The pregnancy hormone relaxin. It is because that hormone named relaxin is living up to its name that a lot of pregnant women experience pain in the hip especially during their second or third trimester. This hormone allows the connective tissue to soften and relax. Consequently, the ligaments and sacroiliac joints between your bones which connect your spine and pelvis will start to loosen. This enlarging flexibility in these bones is essential for preparing the baby to move out of your body through birthing process.
- Nerve compression because of the growing uterus also known as sciatica. There are actually two sciatic nerves in one’s body. Both of them run from the lower back region and it connects to the feet. While your pregnancy progresses especially during your second or third trimester and your enlarge uterus puts pressure on the sciatic nerves in the lower part of your spinal canal, you may experience a tingling sensation, numbness, or pain in the thigh, hips, or buttocks. At times, the pain can be so intense that it brings so much discomfort and incapacitates you. As your due date comes closer, the baby will switch its position at your uterus which will then likely to reduce the feeling of discomfort you are having. Although sciatica is common side effect of pregnancy, make sure to mention it to your health care provider if you experience it, because there are other not so common, but severe, causes of sciatica.
- Round ligament pain. During pregnancy, your uterus is expanding from about the same size as an apple to the size of watermelon. The ligaments which surrounds and supports the uterus, connecting it to your groins, which is well known as your round ligaments will have to thicken and stretch and to support that changes, it will hurt a bit, particularly when you at your second trimester. This might bring sharp pains in your abdomen or hips. This pain can be triggered when you suddenly moved, suddenly stands up or sits down, and when you laugh or cough.
- Weight increase. Your extra weight can put much pressure on your pelvis area causing a shift and pain.
- Wrong posture. You will come to appoint that your body will not be in its perfect balance because of the baby’s weight and this can lead to a hip pain.
- Sleeping on your side most of the time, instead of on your back can also cause hip pain.
What can you do to relieve hip pain during pregnancy?
- Stay active. You can change how you do things like sitting down when getting dressed or when ironing clothes instead of standing up as long as you will not do things that will worsen the pain. Stay active and try to find ways to lessen the extra pressure you are putting on your hips. You can try resting on birth ball or rest on your knees and hands to give some weight off of your hips.
- Rest as much as you can. You will find that having a busy day makes it more painful at night. So when we say stay active, that doesn’t mean you exhaust yourself during the day. Use your wisdom and listen to your body to balance your activity during the day.
- Try to use a pregnancy pillow. Your body still needs to maintain a good posture even during sleep. Make sure to have a proper support when sleeping to relieve hip pain. You can provide support to your pelvic bones by using a pregnancy pillow, it is especial pillow that conform the shape of your body and enables to support your lower body. If you do not have a pregnancy pillow, you can also try to sleep on your side with a long body sized pillow on each side of your body to elevate each leg at a time. Some find it effective to sleep in a recliner.
- Change your mattress. Consider the firmness of your mattress. If it is so firm, try to use an egg crate pad that is made of a foam rubber to make it a bit softer. If your budget is sufficient, you can buy a new mattress and be able to choose one that is more comfortable.
- Improve your postures. During pregnancy, you will have to adjust your posture when sleeping several times to adjust with the changes of your body. Aside from using a pregnancy pillow, make sure to avoid crossing your legs when sleeping, which will surely worsen your hip pain in the morning as it increases the pressure in your hips. Try to keep your back and shoulders straight when walking or sitting and avoid slouching.
- Avoid using heels. I know that asking you to let go of your tall statements while you are pregnant may sound too much, but if you want to avoid or lessen your hip pain it may mean putting aside your favorite party shoes until the time your baby is delivered. High heels shoes can put your body balance off and can intensify your hip pain.
- Improve diet and take a supplement. When you are pregnant your bones are wearing off calcium to supplicate the developing baby. Therefore, it is recommended to augment your calcium supply trough supplements and diet which can help alleviate hip pain during pregnancy. It is important to note that over-the-counter pain relievers are not advisable to take when you are pregnant which can cause dangerous side effects.
- Swimming. With the permission from your doctor, you can try to go swimming. It is proven as one of the most effective form of exercise that can provide relief from hip pain. Remember that when you are in the water you are without weight so just being in the water or walking in a shallow pool, it can provide a lot of relief on your hip pain.
- Prenatal exercises and yoga. You can try Pilates and yoga to manage the pain in your hips but before engaging in any kind of exercise, make sure to ask permission from your health care provider. Make sure also that the instructor is certified. When doing the exercises, be careful with your moves as it can also aggravate the pain once you make a wrong move. You can also choose any kind of strengthening exercises concentrating on strengthening your thigh and trunk muscles to help your body manage your weight.
- Use a prenatal girdle. Wearing a prenatal girdle around your hips and under your abdomen can provide great help in stabilizing your hips.
Different kinds of stretches that help relieve hip pain during pregnancy:
The following stretches are recommended by professionals focusing treatment on correcting postural imbalances, strengthening muscles, and supports proper pelvic alignment. These are from the personalized programs for the treatment of pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain.Pregnancy week by week
- Hip flexor stretch. It runs along the front hip and responsible for bringing the upper leg to the front of the body. This kind of stretch is being done while kneeling on your one leg while the other foot is positioned in the front of your body, knee bent. Changing your weight over your front leg helps stretch the Hip flexor on the other side.
- Hamstring stretches. It is the large muscles at the back of your thigh. This is being done while standing or seating and is most applicable during first trimester. While seating, extend your one leg in front of your body while the other foot is resting against your inner knee or thigh of the straight leg then lean toward your extended leg.
- Child’s pose. This kind of routine elongates and stretches your muscles along the spine that is often getting tight when pregnant. Begin in a kneeling position and lowering your body onto your thighs that the lower body will rest over your feet and ankles and also the upper body on the fronts of your thighs. Your forehead rests on the floor and your arms extended outward and your palms on the floor.
- Seated piriformis stretch. This is a small muscle but very important. It spans at the top of your thighbone thru your tailbone. Perform this stretch by crossing one leg over your other leg and bend forward the hip until your stretch is sensed down the back of your buttocks.
Make sure to ask your doctor if you can do the different stretches listed above to make sure that is safe for you. Do not stretch to the point where the pain is located. Avoid holding your breath and bouncing while you are doing the stretch. While doing the stretches and you suddenly feel dizzy, increased pain, or difficulty in breathing, make sure to stop immediately and call your health care provider for advice.
We do understand the discomforts of hip pain and we do hope that all of the suggestions above will serve as your guide in discovering comfort and relief. Make sure to communicate with your doctor more often and let him or know what is happening to your body.
Cheer up, it won’t last very long, hip pain usually go away once your baby is out.