Women's Healthcare Topics

What can I do to alleviate hip pain during pregnancy?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

What Causes Hip Pain During Pregnancy?

Hip pain is a normal pregnancy symptom that usually plagues women in the third trimester. You may have experienced hip discomfort in the second trimester, but it's usually more of a problem in the final weeks of pregnancy. Your hip pain or hip discomfort may be mild or excruciating. Some women find that their hip pain is so uncomfortable that it keeps them awake at night; others have a hard time walking in the morning due to their pain.

During pregnancy, your body releases an important hormone (called relaxin), which relaxes and softens all your joints and muscles.

Relaxin is released in high amounts to prepare your body for labor. This hormone is responsible for softening the joints in your pelvis, so that it's easier for your baby's body to move through the birth canal when it's time for delivery. Unfortunately, relaxin also increases your susceptibility to injury, and it results in hip pain for some women.

Physical changes in your body also contribute to the development of hip pain in pregnancy. The softening and shifting of your pelvic bones, paired with the pressure of carrying around a huge uterus, can lead to hip pain and discomfort in the third trimester.

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How to Get Relief from Pregnancy Hip Pain

Because hip pain is caused by the normal physical and hormonal changes of pregnancy, you cannot prevent this uncomfortable sensation. Not to worry – there are a number of things you can do to try to minimize your hip pain and discomfort.

  • Use a full body pregnancy pillow when you sleep. Most pregnant women experience hip pain when they're trying to sleep. This is typically due to poor posture or lack of good support in the joints in your pelvic area during sleep. You can easily remedy this with the use of a full body pregnancy pillow. Pregnancy pillows conform to the unique shape of your body and offer support to your back, belly, and legs.

  • Don't cross your legs when you sleep. Some pregnant women notice that their hip pain is worse in the morning, especially if they have slept with their ankles crossed. This position may increase pressure to your hips.

  • Rest when you can. Standing on your feet all day can really aggravate pregnancy-related hip pain. Make sure that you sit down or rest as much as you can during the day.

  • Take a swim. When you're in the water, you are weightless and this can take the pressure off your joints. Swimming is actually one of the best exercises for pregnant women.

  • Schedule a prenatal massage. A prenatal massage is targeted to easing the aches and pains of pregnant women. Not only do prenatal massages relax all your muscles and de-stress you, but they make you feel better and offer relief from hip pain. A trained prenatal massage therapist knows exactly where an expectant mother's sore spots are, and they will adjust their techniques based on how far along you are.

  • Try out Yoga or Pilates. Many pregnant women find that yoga and Pilates helps relieve their back and hip pain in pregnancy. You can probably find a prenatal yoga or Pilates class in your local area. The instructors who teach these pregnancy exercise classes know exactly what positions may stretch and align your hips and pelvis to give you some relief.

During pregnancy, you might also benefit from going to see a chiropractor. Make sure that you find a chiropractor that is specially trained to treat expectant mothers. Getting regular adjustments may help you feel better, since an experienced professional will know exactly how to relieve your aches and pains.

If you decide to seek the assistance of a chiropractor, ask your doctor or healthcare provider for a referral.


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