Changes in a woman's body during pregnancy can create many aches and pains. Hip pain is a common occurrence, just like lower-back pain. Although it may not be completely prevented, it is possible to treat it, allowing women a more comfortable pregnancy experience.
During pregnancy, women experience hormonal changes that occur in preparation for delivery. The hormone relaxin is released, which loosens joints and ligaments, which can cause hip pain and other aches. Dr. Jeannie A. Santoro, a chiropractor in Pennsylvania, explains that hormones can also cause joints to become inflamed and sensitive. As the baby grows and extra weight is placed on the pelvis, the pelvis can shift, which causes pain. Changes in a woman's posture can also contribute to hip pain, as her back and muscles are pulled in a different way to carry the baby. This places strain on the muscles and causes the pelvis to tilt out of alignment.
Hip pain can occur at any point in pregnancy, though it is most common in the second and third trimesters. Relaxin is typically released in the highest quantities in the second half of pregnancy. Some women, however, experience a more immediate release of relaxin during the first trimester, which can cause hip pain even if the baby isn't large enough to put pressure on any joints or nerves.
Dr. James W. Brann of Women's Healthcare Topics advises that some activities and exercises can make hip pain worse for those who experience it. Walking for long periods of time and bending can aggravate hip pain. Women may also find that some exercises, such as walking up stairs, using an elliptical machine or any activity that causes quick changes in direction, make pain worse.
Treating hip pain involves both relieving the symptoms and correcting the underlying issue that causes the pain. Chiropractic adjustment, prenatal massage and physical therapy can provide relief of hip pain in some patients, Brann notes. Using heat or ice can help alleviate symptoms, as can elevating one foot on a box or other object while standing, notes MayoClinic.com.
During sleep, the pelvis lacks support, which can lead to hip pain, because pregnant women are restricted to sleeping on one side or the other. Possible solutions to relieve pain at night include the use of a full-body pillow, placed between the legs, underneath the belly and under the upper arm. This helps to stabilize the pelvis and provide support. If sleeping is too uncomfortable even with a body pillow, sleeping in a recliner offers relief for some women.