Are you suffering from hip pain during this pregnancy?
It’s awful, right?
One minute you can feel like you’re fine, then BAM! Your hip feels like it’s gonna pop out it’s joint.
Unfortunately, hip pain is extremely common during pregnancy. You may have already been diagnosed with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) or Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP).
The good news is there are things you can do to cope with the hip pain during pregnancy. That’s exactly why I’ve written this guide.
I want to help you gain some control back from the impact this pain is having on your daily life. Plus I’m gonna talk about other ways the hip pain can affect your pregnancy.
In this guide you’ll find:
- Common causes of hip pain in pregnancy
- How to relieve hip pain
- Tips to prevent pain
- Preparing for labor
First, let’s start by looking at the symptoms of pelvic pain during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Pregnancy Hip Pain
Hip pain can happen at any time during pregnancy but it’s more common in the third trimester. If you start to experienced regular pain, it’s best to get it treated as soon as possible. Otherwise, it’s only gonna get worse.
Look out for these symptoms:
- Pain in your pubic bone, lower back, hips, groin, thighs or knees
- Difficulty walking
- Clicking or grinding noises when you move
- Difficulty opening legs (forward or sideways)
- Pain when standing on one leg or an uneven surface
- Pain during sex
If you suffer from these symptoms on a regular basis then tell your midwife or obstetrician. They will refer you to a physiotherapist who can diagnose and provide treatment for your pain.
Common Causes of Hip Pain during Pregnancy
There are a few reasons you’re getting hip pain during this pregnancy. The source of the pain will help you get better treatment. Let’s have a look at the most common causes.
During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called relaxin. This hormone helps to soften the ligament in your body in preparation for birth.
When the ligaments are more flexible the nerves and muscles can sometimes struggle to adjust to the changes. This is often what leads to pain around various ligaments in the pelvis.
This is a type of nerve pain which crosses over the hips. The sciatic nerve runs from your lower back to your feet.
Swelling around these nerves from extra weight or fluid can cause them to become pinched. The pain is often described as shooting or burning sensation and often only occur on one side.
Pain the runs along your hip bones is often caused by the round ligaments. These ligaments are stretched upwards during pregnancy to support your growing uterus.
The stretching of these ligaments can often cause a sharp shooting pain with movement. Usually, these pains don’t start until the second trimester as your uterus grows above the pelvis.
The extra weight from your baby and amniotic fluid will put a strain on your hips. If you have a small frame with a large bump it can put a lot of pressure onto the hip area which is holding it in place.
Try to eat as healthy as possible during pregnancy to avoid excessive weight gain.
Pregnancy will change your body shape to cope with the extra load. Your spine will slightly curve to support your growing baby. These posture changes can put a lot of strain on your muscles and ligaments.
Try to walk and sit as upright as possible. Slumping when seated can worsen your pelvic pain and cause back pain too.
If you’ve had a previous injury to your back or hips this worsen with pregnancy. Horse riding or car accidents are fairly common causes of this.
If you start to feel painful niggles you should have a physio referral as soon as possible.
You might even want to mention any previous injury or hip pain in a previous pregnancy at your first appointment. This will help your caregiver organize a quick referral or open appointment to a physiotherapist.
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9 Ways to Relieve Hip Pain during Pregnancy
If your hip pain is making you miserable try these methods to ease the pain.
You’ll probably still be going about your daily life until you get into the last few weeks of your pregnancy. Remember that pregnancy takes a lot out of your body.
You need to rest more often than usual. Adding even a 15-minute nap to your day will make you feel so much better.
If you’re feeling sore rest, stop what you are doing and rest.
2. Thermal Therapy
Using heat or cold can really help relieve pain. The rule of thumb is that sudden onset pain or inflammation should be treated with cold. If it’s an ongoing pain then heat can provide relief.
Try sitting or lying with a hot water bottle or heat pack on the sore area. This one from Amazon is great for heating up or cooling down.
3. Pain Killers
If nothing seems to be working then mild painkillers can be used to take the edge off the pain.
Tylenol is safe to use in pregnancy. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen shouldn’t be used as they can cause problems for your baby.
If you need something stronger you would need to consult your doctor for a stronger prescription.
Do be aware that regular use of strong painkillers in pregnancy can cause your baby to have some withdrawal symptoms after birth.
Regular stretches can help to strengthen muscles weakened by pregnancy. It can also help to improve posture and align the joints and ligaments.
If possible consult with a physiotherapist for customized stretches for your sore areas.
A pregnancy yoga class is a great way to target these areas at a slower pace.
5. Water Exercises
Water is great for exercising without the weight bearing. Aquanatal classes and swimming are great for keeping active in pregnancy.
Start early in pregnancy and build up your muscle strength. Try to swim by front crawl as it’s easiest on the legs.
The leg movement of a breaststroke can lead to leg pain after your swim.
6. Maternity Support Belt
Using a support belt can help to redistribute the load from strained areas. These belts are placed over the hip area and provide support for your bump.
A physiotherapist may be able to provide you with a Tubigrip support or Kinesio tape as part of your treatment.
If you want a belt which is easier to put on and adjustable. Check out the Neotech belt it’s the best rated pregnancy belt on Amazon.
Check out the Stork Mama guide to the best pregnancy support belts.
A good massage is well known to make you feel rested and relaxed. The manipulation of the muscles can release tension and help aches and pains.
Always contact a massage therapist who is trained and insured for pregnancy massage. If you have severe hip pain a chiropractor or osteopath may be a better option to target your bones and joints too.
Always ask your obstetrician if it’s safe for you to have a massage, particularly if you have a high-risk pregnancy.
8. Pregnancy Pillow
Sleep can be greatly affected by your hip pain. And it’s only gonna get worse as your bump grows.
A pregnancy pillow can help to support your hips, back and legs as you sleep.
Side sleeping is best with a pillow for support between your knees. Lying on the left side is best for baby as it helps them get more oxygen, however, choose a position that is comfortable for you.
Studies have found acupuncture to be effective at helping hip pain during pregnancy. The ACOG even recommend it as a suggested treatment for pelvic pain.
Your obstetrician may be able to refer you for treatment, however, the availability varies from area to area.
Daily Life with Hip Pain
There are a few changes you can make to your daily life that will help prevent making your hip pain worse.
If you are on your feet a lot you need supportive shoes. High heels shoes should be avoided as they cause your pelvis to tilt at an exaggerated angle. Support insoles can help improve the support from your footwear.
Try to keep the body aligned at all times. This means avoid twisting, bending, crossing your legs and getting out of bed or the car one leg at a time.
For severe hip pain, a physio can loan you mobility aids. You may be offered crutches or a wheelchair if walking is too painful. Other aids include bath boards, bed levers, raised toilet supports and shower chairs.
A soft mattress can make your hip pain a lot worse. Uneven springs can also cause poor posture in bed. We highly recommend checking your mattress and consider buying a replacement.
Don’t be afraid to ask people to help. This is important for tasks which require excessive mobility. For regular activates such as shopping, why not get it delivered to the house.
If you are struggling with your regular work duties you need to discuss this with your employer. As part of your risk assessment, your employer should adapt your work duties to your abilities, adjust your working hours or offer more breaks.
Planning for Birth
Hip pain can leave you worrying about your labor. Let’s tackle some of the most common concerns.
Your doctor may offer to get your labor started early with medication if the pain is affecting your daily life. Remember that your pelvic pain may not go away straight after delivery.
The risk of induction should be considered carefully. Induction often leads to increased need for epidural, reduced mobility and instrumental or cesarean delivery. All of which can prolong your recovery period.
A natural delivery is still possible when you have hip pain. Your caregiver will offer you extra support during the labor to ease any pain.
You might want to consider a water birth for ease of movement during the labor. Changing position regularly will prevent your hips causing extra pain during labor.
Your caregiver may need to assess how far wide you can open your legs without it being painful. This is so they can provide physical support during the second stage when you push your baby out.
Hip pain is not an indication for having an elective cesarean section. Remember it is major surgery and can slow down your recovery after birth.
However, your situation should be discussed with your obstetrician based on your medical and pregnancy history.
If your hip pain is pregnancy related it will take around 6 weeks after birth to resolve. There are a few things you should keep in mind if your mobility is still restricted after delivery.
Prevent Blood Clots
If your movement is restricted you are at higher risk of getting a blood clot. The doctors may recommend you wear compression stocking and have blood thinning injections to prevent this. You should also keep well hydrated.
Ask your caregiver if it’s possible for you to have an en-suite toilet or bed situated near the toilets. This will help you to keep mobile, without the pain caused by long walks to the bathroom.