Pregnancy is an exciting phase. However, it involves pains and aches with your body changing. Hip pain is one such common symptom that you may experience. It is the most felt discomfort in late pregnancy phase that is during your third trimester.
For some, it may be a minor problem, but for some others, it can interfere with their everyday activities and cause sleep disruptions. You will usually feel the pain in the back or side of the hip, and it turns worse while standing. The pain aggravates when lifting weights.
What Causes Hip Pain During Pregnancy?
There are many causes of hip pain during pregnancy. It is mainly caused when the ligaments holding the sacroiliac joints, which connect spine to pelvis, loosen.
1. Relaxin Hormone:
You body releases relaxin, a major hormone during pregnancy. It causes relaxation by softening all your joints and muscles. It is released in significant amounts to prepare your body for delivery. It softens the pelvic joints, so that your baby can easily pass through the birth canal at the time of labor. However, the hormone increases your sensitivity to trauma which can result in hip pain.
There are two sciatic nerves in the body. Both originate from the lower back region and connect to feet. When your bulging uterus exerts pressure on these nerves, it can lead to numbness, pain and a tingling sensation in the hips, thighs and buttocks. As you near your due date, the baby changes position, and you may feel less discomfort. Although sciatica is a common sign of pregnancy, you should inform your doctor as it may occur due to other serious causes.
3. Round Ligament Pain:
It is characterized by a throbbing pain in the hip, groin, and abdominal area. The pain increases with any changes or movements in the baby’s position.
4. Transient Osteoporosis:
It is another primary cause of hip pain that afflicts especially in the second and third trimester. Transient osteoporosis causes a temporary bone loss in the upper portion of the thigh bone. It, therefore, leads to the sudden onset of hip pain which intensifies with walking or other physical activities.
MRI scan is usually required to diagnose the condition. The healing process lasts for six weeks, but it sometimes leads to hip fracture.
5. Increase In Weight:
Extra weight from your growing pregnancy can put some amount of pressure on the pelvis causing a shift and thereby pain.
6. Wrong Posture:
It can lead to hip pain, especially during second and third trimester when your body is not in perfect balance due to your baby’s weight.
How You Can Treat Hip Pain During Pregnancy:
Hip pain can be severe enough to cause trouble while you are sleeping. It can also cause stress and discomfort during the day. Here is how you can get relief from the pain and discomfort:
1. Use A Pregnancy Pillow:
Using a full-body pregnancy pillow helps. You may experience hip pain when sleeping because of the poor posture or lack of support in the pelvic area. You can escape from this by using a pregnancy pillow. It adjusts to your body shape and offers excellent support to your belly, back and legs.
If the pillow is not enough, you can use a recliner, especially in the later stages of pregnancy to have control on your body position.
2. Sleeping On Your Side:
In the final trimester, especially when you are getting closer to labor, you should sleep on your side, keeping your knees and legs bent. You can use pillows to support the abdomen and upper leg to find comfort. If sleeping on your side aggravates your hip pain, place a blanket or a pillow to your lower back and sleep against it. It will alleviate the pressure on your hip.
3. Heat Therapy:
When nothing else works, have a warm water bath or apply a hot water bottle on your hip. With advice and consultation from your doctor, you can also get a massage with warm oil to get relief from hip pain. The massage should be very gentle, and your bath water should be warm (not hot).
4. Rest Whenever Possible:
Standing on your feet all day long can aggravate your hip pain. Ensure that you take rest or sit down as much as you can during the day. Try to be in a position that gives you the most needed relief, rest and relaxation. Sitting and sleeping with legs raised and a proper back support will give you relief from hip pain.
5. Prenatal Massage:
Scheduling a prenatal massage eases the pains and aches of pregnancy. A prenatal massage not only relaxes your muscles and de-stresses you but also makes you feel better. Go to a trained therapist so that they know where the exact sore spots lie.
6. Yoga and Pilates:
Both yoga and pilates provide relief from hip and back pain during pregnancy. You can join in a yoga or pilate class in your locality. The instructors will know which positions can stretch, align and relieve your hips and pelvis.
7. Water Workouts:
When you are in the last trimester, you may have to stay off your feet as too much walking or standing will worsen your hip pain. As you are advised to exercise, you can opt for swimming. It relieves the strain on hips and all other joints. When you swim in the water, you feel weightless, and this can take off the pressure from your hip and joints.
8. Iliac Brace:
When you are standing or performing any physical work, you should be wearing an iliac brace or a pregnancy belt. It offers support to your back and midsection. Seek your healthcare provider’s advice on which brand to use.
Some More Tips To Manage Hip Pain In Pregnancy:
- Do not cross your legs while sleeping as it could exert more pressure on the hips and increase the pain. Try to sleep with your legs parallel to each other, where ankles and knees are separated.
- Placing a pillow under your baby bump will prevent you from rolling forward.
- Place an extra layer of padding above or below the hip joint, whichever makes you feel better. A sleeping bag or quilt gives the best pain relief.
- While standing, you should hold shoulders back, head up and pelvis tucked in.
- Placing a warm wheat bag next to your hips will provide relief.
- Applying an ice pack several times a day will help relieve joint pains.
- Ask your healthcare provider whether you can take a pain reliever. Aspirin and ibuprofen combinations should not be taken.
- If you are lying on your back, keep a pillow between your knees and squeeze. It helps in realigning the pelvic bones and offers relief to your hip.
- The firmness of the mattress is another factor you should consider. If your mattress is too firm, use an ‘egg crate’ pad that is made of foam rubber which makes it softer. You can also buy a new mattress.
- Do not wear high heels as they can imbalance your body and aggravate pain. Choose platforms or flats as they support your weight.