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Women that are pregnant will notice that they’re hungrier, their pants no longer fit and that their mood is erratic. Happiness one minute is quickly followed by crying and the urge to eat pickles. But once the second trimester hits, the weight gain is apparent and a woman is likely to begin showing.
While cute on the outside, this added weight gain will lead to the dreaded hip pain during pregnancy that women always talk about.
Aches and pains will slowly start to become the norm. Not only will your hips hurt (they will), but you’ll also start to experience back and pelvic pain – no fun. And while the pregnancy progresses, you’ll start to notice these pains more frequently and all over your body, not just in your hips.
The good news is that most of these pains can be alleviated, but we’ll talk more about that soon.
Why Hip Pain During Pregnancy Occurs
Pregnancy leads to a lot of odd pains. And most of the pains can be associated with one of two things: weight and hormones. Women that are naturally heavier will also suffer from further pains in the hips, back and legs.
The first cause of pain is likely due to the hormone relaxin.
When you’re pregnant, your body will release hormones needed for your baby and the delivery of your child. Relaxin is the hormone that is responsible for preparing your body for birth. As this hormone is released, it is signaling the body to:
- Become more flexible
Your ligaments will become more flexible as well, leading to your hip pain. Less overall support will be provided due to the ligaments stretching and relaxing, which can put strain on the hips. Some women will have such dire pain in their hips and pelvis that they won’t be able to sleep at night as a result.
4 Main Reasons for Hip Pain While Pregnant
There are four main reasons for hip pain while pregnant, and these reasons include:
- Weight Gain: You’ll undoubtedly gain weight while you’re pregnant. Eating for two, this extra weight gain does not help your hips and joints overall. The excess weight puts strain on the joints and cartilage, leading to aches. Pain will also be felt in the back because you’re engaging your back muscles further as more weight is placed on the abdomen.
- Stretching: The hips and abdominal muscles will begin to stretch. Stretching doesn’t occur until a woman is 18 – 24 weeks into her pregnancy, but it will be a source of pain. This is why most women love their first trimester rather than the third trimester – it’s pain free. But once the body starts preparing for the birth of your child, you’ll start noticing pain in areas you didn’t even know existed.
- Nerve Compression: Those pesky nerves that are required for every muscle movement may also become compressed by your growing uterus. The sciatic nerve will likely be compressed, which can cause you to have pain in your legs and thighs.
- Sleeping Position: Even the way that you sleep at night can lead to you having pain. Women that sleep on their side during pregnancy will put further strain on their hips. And you’ll find that the problem is so amplified that you can purchase your very own pregnancy pillow that will help to alleviate much of the pain you’re feeling.
As you can see, hip pain is caused by so many things that it is almost inevitable that you’ll suffer from it at one point or another during pregnancy. Again, if you are overweight, the issue can worsen even further, which is not desirable.
6 Tips to Manage Hip Pain
You’ve come to the realization that hip pain will be in your life, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t seek relief. While I don’t recommend taking pain pills to alleviate the pain (your baby will be effected by them), there are other ways that you can try and manage the hip pain.
- Ask Your Doctor for a Pain Reliever: You doctor will be able to provide you with a mild pain reliever. Most of the time, you’ll be given an over-the-counter medicine, such as Tylenol. I recommend going to the doctor to get medicine because generic pain relievers should be avoided, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
- Ice: If you’re a very active person, it’s important that you rest and ice your hips. Using an ice pack, apply the pack to your joints several times a day to find relief.
- Rest: You need to stay off of your feet as much as possible. This means you don’t want to be standing around for extended periods of time. Instead, learn to take a seat and rest your legs.
- Swim: Swimming is such a great exercise when you’re pregnant. Not only will you keep your blood flowing and reduce tightness, but you’ll also be staying in shape and relieving pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Wear a Pregnancy Belt or Girdle: There is a reason why you’ll find pregnancy belts and girdles in stores across the world: they work. Pressure is relieved by using these items, and they help to stabilize the hips. While they may be uncomfortable at first, you’ll be happy to wear them as your hip pain melts away.
- Realign the Pelvic Bone: This is a lot easier than it sounds. You’ll want to lie on your back, propping yourself up on your elbows or a pillow. Place a pillow or cushion between your knees and squeeze as hard as you can. This will force the hips into alignment and will add to your overall comfort.
If none of this is helping and you experience any of the following, it’s time to consult with your doctor:
- Severe or sudden pain
- Difficulty shifting weight
- Difficulty walking
You can also see a physiotherapist that will be able to teach you exercises you can do to alleviate the pain you’re experiencing.
4 Changes You Can Make to Stop Hip Pain During Pregnancy
None of the pain relief methods above helped you find relief, but there is still hope. There are changes you can make that will alleviate your hip pain:
- Pregnancy Pillow: Designed for pregnancy, these pillows will be able to be placed between the knees and may be full-body pillows. The goal of these pillows is to provide support for your hips and pelvis while also providing pain relief.
- Mattress: The mattress you’re sleeping on may not be supportive enough for a pregnant woman. A mattress topper is also another option and is much more affordable.
- Massage: A prenatal massage may just be what the doctor ordered. These massages are known to reduce hip pain and relax the muscles while touching on all of those sore spots that are leaving you in pain.
- Yoga: Yoga is less strenuous than other forms of exercise and easier on the joints. The good thing is that there is pregnancy yoga, which aims to alleviate the joint pains that you’re feeling while also stretching out tight muscles and adding to your overall strength.
When you’re pregnant, it’s important that you try and find comfort in the most natural way possible. These nine months will fly by, and it’s better to use the natural recommendations above than to take pain pills that will also enter your baby’s system.