Hip Pain During Pregnancy

Woman with hip pain during pregnancy

Hip pain during pregnancy is a common symptom that you may experience. This discomfort is most often felt late in pregnancy, specifically during the third trimester. This occurs because your body is preparing itself for labor. Soreness and pain are often felt the strongest on the side where the baby tends to lie in your uterus.

What causes hip pain during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your body releases hormones that allow connective tissue to relax and soften. As a result of this, the joints and ligaments between the bones in your pelvis will begin to loosen. Increasing flexibility in these bones is imperative for allowing the baby to move through your body during labor. Lower back pain as well as changes in posture and a heavier uterus may contribute to the soreness you feel.

Other causes of pain in your hips include increased pressure on the sciatic nerve. The two sciatic nerves in your body run from the lower back to the feet. When an enlarged uterus puts pressure on the nerves, you can experience pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation in the buttocks, hips, and thighs. This problem is referred to as sciatica. As you get closer to your due date, your baby will change its position in your uterus. This will likely reduce the discomfort you are feeling. Sciatica is usually normal during pregnancy, but you should still inform your doctor if you experience it as there are other less common, but serious, causes of sciatica.

Another possible cause of hip pain during the second trimester is round ligament pain. Round ligament pain is characterized by sharp pains in the abdomen, hip, and groin area. The pain may intensify with rapid movements or changes in position. For more information on round ligament pain, please review this article.

How can you alleviate hip pain during pregnancy?

Woman doing pelvic exercises during her pregnancy

Practicing exercises that strengthen both the back muscles as well as your abdominal muscles will likely reduce hip pain. One exercise that may provide relief is elevating your hips above chest level while lying on your back for a couple of minutes. Taking a warm bath or applying warm compresses to the sore area can reduce pain. In addition, a massage may ease soreness.

Woman sleeping on her side during pregnancy

As you get closer to your delivery date, make sure to sleep on your side and keep your legs and knees bent. Using pillows to support your abdomen and upper leg can alleviate uncomfortableness while sleeping. If lying on your side worsens your hip pain, place a pillow or blanket at the small of your back and sleep leaning against it. This will reduce pressure on the hip you are sleeping on.

When should you call your doctor?

If your hip pain is accompanied by a pressure or soreness in the pelvic area that radiates towards the thighs before the 37th week of pregnancy, it is important to seek out your health care provider. This can be a sign of preterm labor.

Along with pelvic pressure, other indications of preterm labor are:

  • Abdominal cramping and discomfort, particularly in the lower abdomen
  • Lower backache that extends to the front and sides of your body without relief when you change positions
  • Unexpected contractions that occur approximately every ten minutes
  • Discharge from your vagina that is clear, pink, or brown in color

References:

Katz, Vern L. (2003).  Prenatal Care in Scott, James R., Gibbs, Ronald S., Karlan, Beth Y., & Haney, Arthur F. (Eds.), Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, 9th edition (18).  Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

(1994). The Third Trimester: 28 to 40 weeks and beyond in Johnson, Robert V. (Ed.), Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year (176-7).  New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

(2004). Common concerns and questions of pregnancy in Harms, Roger W. (Ed.), Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy (455-76).  New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

(2007, March).  Round Ligament Pain.  Retrieved from http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/roundligament.htm