During pregnancy, some aches and pains are to be expected. After all, your body is growing and stretching to make room for a developing baby. But what can you do if you’re experiencing back and hip pain during pregnancy?
If you’re experiencing pain affecting your back or hips during pregnancy, you aren’t alone! Back pain is one of the most common symptoms experienced during the later months of pregnancy, and hip pain affects nearly one-third of expectant moms.
Normally when you experience pain, you may turn to an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen, for relief. But you probably know by now that many medications aren’t safe or recommended during pregnancy.
The good news is: That doesn’t mean you simply have to grin and bear back and hip pain during pregnancy. Read on to get the details about finding relief.
What causes back and hip pain during pregnancy?
We mentioned above that your entire body is growing and stretching as your pregnancy progresses. You’re likely also gaining some weight to support a healthy pregnancy for yourself and your baby.
Both of these things can cause pain, particularly when you’re in the later stages of pregnancy. There are also some other factors at play when it comes to back pain and hip pain.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists perhaps says it best when it comes to back pain: “You can blame your growing uterus for your aching back.” As your uterus expands, your body’s center of gravity gets off-kilter. This, in turn, causes your abdominal muscles to stretch out and weaken.
Anyone who’s ever been to an exercise class knows that those abdominal muscles—also called your “core”—are responsible for keeping you upright. When they’re strained, back pain becomes more likely.
Hip pain is a slightly different story. During pregnancy, the body produces hormones that prepare your body for both pregnancy and the birth of your child. These hormones cause connective tissue throughout the body, including the joints and ligaments in your pelvis, to relax and soften.
This is a necessary change to prepare your body for giving birth, but it can also cause increased soreness in the hips. Hip pain can also be the result of sciatica, which is caused by increased pressure on the sciatic nerve, or round ligament pain, which causes sharp pains in the abdominal, hip, and groin area.
How to find relief from back and hip pain during pregnancy
If you can’t turn to your usual dose of anti-inflammatory when back and hip pain flare up, what can you do? There are actually a few things you can try!
First, if it’s OK with your medical provider, you can try a dose of acetaminophen to see if it offers relief. This medication is generally considered safe during pregnancy.
You can also try stretching your way to relief. Performing easy, gentle yoga can help stretch out soreness by loosening up your hips and strengthening your core. As your pregnancy progresses, you may find that it’s easiest to stretch while seated.
Applying heat or cold may also be helpful. If using a heating pad, keep it on the lowest setting and apply it directly to the back or the hips, avoiding the stomach. In some cases, cold compresses may help with pain. When using either heat or cold, keep a towel between yourself and the hot/cold source and limit use to 10 to 15 minutes.
Wearing a pregnancy back brace may help provide support to keep your core upright and minimize pain. It’s also important to support your back and hips as you sit and while sleeping with strategically placed pillows and cushions.
If you’re on your feet often, choose your shoes carefully. Believe it or not, low-heeled shoes are a better option than flat shoes since they provide more arch support.
When to check in with your medical provider
While many aches and pains, including hip and back pain, are a normal part of pregnancy, some pains are not.
You should give your provider a call if you’re experiencing symptoms that go beyond basic back or hip pain during pregnancy. Seek medical attention if you experience:
- Cramping pains
- Lingering back pain for more than two weeks
- Lower back pain that radiates to the front and side of the body when changing positions
- Rapid-onset back pain
- Severe, intense back pain
- Vaginal discharge
These symptoms may be a sign of preterm labor, so it’s important to check in with your medical provider quickly if you experience them.
When you’re in need of OB/GYN care, our team of family medicine OB/GYNs are here to help at Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Family Medicine in Gainesville. In partnership with NGPG OB/GYN, these providers offer you the same expert care you’ve come to trust at NGPG.
Call 770-219-9445 or visit ngpg.org/family-med-obgyn to learn more or schedule an appointment.