Women who are in their second trimester of pregnancy will notice that their abdomen is starting to show and people around are noticing their baby bump. Clothes will start to feel tighter and these soon-to-be moms will feel out of shape as they put on excess weight. They will also start experiencing back pains as well as hip and pelvic pains. As pregnancy progresses, these body aches may become more uncomfortable but with a few exercises and useful tips, you can look forward to a healthy pregnancy.
Causes of Hip Pain During Pregnancy
There are several factors that cause hip pain when a woman is pregnant. During this delicate period, a hormone called relaxin is released and helps to prepare your body for childbirth. It makes the pelvic area become more flexible by relaxing the ligaments, which are involved in the process of birth. Other factors that lead to hip pain during pregnancy include:
- excessive weight gain
- stretching of the hip and abdominal muscles (18th-24th weeks)
- sciatica or nerve compression by the growing uterus (may also cause pain on the thighs)
- side sleeping position during pregnancy
How to Relieve Hip Pain During Pregnancy
Hip and pelvic pain can be severe enough for some women to cause trouble sleeping, which can also cause a lot of discomfort and stress during the day. Here’s how to relieve the discomfort:
1. Use a Pregnancy Pillow. Even during sleep your body needs good posture and proper support to relieve hip pain. Support your pelvic joints by using a special pregnancy pillow that conforms to your body shape to supports your lower body.
Some women try sleeping on their side with a long body pillow on each side to elevate one leg at a time. However, if this is not enough, others sleep on a recliner, especially in the later stages of pregnancy to gain more control in body positioning.
2. Change Your Mattress. Another factor to consider is the firmness of the mattress you are using for sleeping. If it is too firm you can try using an “egg crate” pad made of foam rubber to make it softer. If you can afford to buy a new mattress, choose one which is more comfortable.
3. Schedule a Prenatal Massage. Ask a trained massage therapist to give you a prenatal massage. This can reduce hip pain as well as other body aches, relax your muscles and relieve sore spots. The prenatal massage therapist will apply techniques that are suitable to your stage of pregnancy.
4. Try Out Yoga or Pilates. Enroll in a special pregnancy exercise class using Pilates or yoga to relieve hip and back pain. Instructors of these special classes will teach you to perform positions that will help stretch your hip and pelvis muscles to relieve your discomfort.
5. Improve Sleeping Postures. During pregnancy, you will need to adjust your sleeping posture as your body changes. While sleeping on your side, bend your legs, placing a pillow between the knees to support the leg and the hip and pelvic joints. Avoid crossing your legs while sleeping. Crossing your legs at the ankles may cause your hip pain to worsen in the morning, since this position increases pressure in your hips.
6. More Tips to Manage Hip Pain During Pregnancy.
- If you can lie on your back while using your elbows or a pillow to prop you up, place a pillow between your knees and squeeze. This helps realign pelvic bones and relieves hip pain.
- Stabilize your hips by wearing a prenatal girdle or belt around the hip and under the abdomen.
- Ask your doctor if you may take a pain reliever to ease your discomfort. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is considered safe while ibuprofen and aspirin must be avoided.
- Take as much rest as you can by sitting down as much as you can at daytime. Avoid long periods of standing.
- Relieve joint pains by applying an ice pack on the sore areas several times daily.
- If your hip joint pains are due to sciatica, the sciatic nerve which is located in the hip is being compressed by the growing fetus in the uterus. Relieve pain, with your doctor’s advice, by swimming to reduce pressure on the nerve.
When to See a Doctor
Consult your doctor if:
- you have difficulty walking
- you have difficulty taking weight on one side
- you experience severe or sudden pain
A physiotherapist can help if you have problems walking. He/she can teach you some helpful exercises to do at home. He/she can also give hands-on therapy and provide you with support belts as well as elbow crutches to support your hips.