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Toward the end of your pregnancy, it’s common for pregnant women to complain of hip pain and discomfort. This pregnancy symptom is normal and often nothing to worry about. It is due to hormonal changes and the physical demands of carrying a huge baby inside your womb.
Your hip pain may range in severity from mild to severe. Some pregnant women find that their hip pain is so uncomfortable that it wakes them up in the middle of the night. Others experience painful hips when they awake in the morning.
What Causes Hip Pain in Pregnancy?
Like with other pregnancy symptoms, you can blame your hormones for hip pain. When you’re pregnant, your body releases a hormone called relaxin, which softens and relaxes the ligaments and joints around your pelvis. This allows your baby to easily pass into the birth canal during labor and delivery. Unfortunately, relaxin also relaxes the ligaments and joints in other parts of your body, too – including your hips.
(Relaxin is also responsible for other common pregnancy symptoms, such low back pain, as larger foot size, and wider waistline when you’re having a baby.)
All women have the hormone relaxin in their bodies, but when you’re pregnant, your body produces 10 times the normal concentration of this hormone. Relaxin has been released in large numbers since the first trimester, but you don’t experience its affects until you’re further along (in the third trimester, for most women).
There is a physical component to hip pain, too. As your belly gets larger in pregnancy, your center of gravity shifts and your poster changes. As a result, your muscles and ligaments start responding differently to the hormone relaxin. For example, hip pain may strike more easily.
How to Cope with Pregnancy Hip Pain
Since hip pain is a result of hormonal and physical changes that occur during pregnancy, there is not much you can do to prevent this symptom. You may just have to suffer through the discomfort and deal with it until your baby arrives. However, there are a number of techniques you can try to minimize your pain.
Take Lots of Breaks During the Day
Many expectant mothers find that being on their feet a lot during the day increases the severity of their hip pain. If you can, you might be able to minimize your pain by taking lots of breaks throughout the day. Sit down and prop your feet up when you can. If you must stay standing for long periods of time due to your job obligations, use a box and prop one foot on it and rest for a while, then switch. This may help.
Don’t Cross Your Ankles at Night
Some pregnant women also find that crossing their ankles when they sleep can increase the pressure on the hips, making their hip discomfort even worse. Sleeping with your knees and ankles separated, so that your legs are parallel may give you some relief.
Exercise During the Day
Staying fit and active during pregnancy is good for a number of reasons, but some women find that light walking (for 20 or 30 minutes), stretching, or yoga tends to help their symptoms. Swimming is a wonderful way to get relief from your hip pain, since being in the water makes you weightless and takes the pressure off all your joints.
Schedule a prenatal massage. Find a massage therapist who specializes in treating pregnant women. Prenatal massage relaxes your muscles and de-stresses you – which is always good in pregnancy – but they can also give you some relief from your hip pain.
Hot or Cold Compresses
You may be able to find some relief from your hip pain by using warm compresses or a heating pad. Some pregnant women also get relief from their hip pain by taking a warm, soothing bath. Alternatively, if heat doesn’t work for you, try applying ice to the affected area.