What Causes Hip Pain During Pregnancy and How to Find Relief

Medically reviewed by Renita White, MD

As the body changes during pregnancy, pains in different parts of the body can arise. Hip pain during pregnancy, also known as pelvic girdle pain (PGP) or lumbopelvic pain (LPP), is a common complaint among those who are pregnant. Roughly 50% to 90% of pregnant people will experience it. Typically, hip pain is most felt during the third trimester.

There are many ways you can relieve the discomfort of hip pain at home that are safe for both you and your unborn child. That said, if you do not find relief with home remedies and the pain interferes with your day-to-day activities, you should contact a healthcare provider.

This article discusses the causes of hip pain during pregnancy and home remedy options.

<p>Jose Araujo / Getty Images</p>

Jose Araujo / Getty Images

What Causes Hip Pain During Pregnancy?

The pain felt in the hip during the third trimester can feel dull or sharp. It can also gradually develop over time or come on suddenly.

It may be localized to one area, such as the back of the hip, but it could also feel like a generalized pain in the pelvic area.

Many things can contribute to hip pain during pregnancy, including:

Hormonal Changes

While the body goes through pregnancy and prepares for birth, many changes occur, including hormone levels.

One specific hormone, relaxin, causes cartilage and tendons in the body to become more flexible so that when it's time to give birth, the hips, joints, and muscles can easily move and stretch to accommodate the process.

The release of this hormone can contribute to hip pain during pregnancy in many people because of its effects on the joints, muscles, and tissues in the pelvic region.

Hip Pain in the Second Trimester

In some cases, hip pain is felt during the second trimester, with the onset of round ligament pain. This is a sharp pain in the hips.

Weight Changes

When pregnant, most of the additional pounds gained are in the middle of the body. This extra load can stress the pelvic region, leading to hip pain.

Related: What Are the Symptoms of Pregnancy?

Transient Osteoporosis

Transient osteoporosis (TOP) is a rare condition characterized by temporary bone loss in the femur (upper thigh bone). The cause of TOP is not well understood. Some research theorizes that it develops because, as the fetus grows, it uses more of the calcium that the mother gets through diet and supplementation, which could affect bone health in the pregnant person.

It can occur during the third trimester of pregnancy. The pain develops because bone loss in the upper thigh can lead to issues with the hip joint. Aside from pain, people who are pregnant may also experience difficulties with walking or moving between sitting and standing positions.

Is Transient Osteoporosis Permanent?

While bone loss may seem severe, transient osteoporosis during pregnancy typically resolves itself after the baby is born.

Sciatic Nerve Pressure

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body that starts in the lower back and splits, extending down the buttocks and into both legs. The nerve plays a role in mobility, and when a person develops sciatica, they can experience bouts of pain and difficulties with walking, standing, or running.

Hip pain during pregnancy can develop due to sciatica because of physical changes in the body. During pregnancy, the uterus grows to make room for the fetus, which leads to added pressure on the sciatic nerve. That added pressure causes the pain.

How Common Is Sciatic Nerve Pain in Pregnancy?

According to research studies, roughly 1% of pregnant people will experience pain due to sciatic nerve pressure.

Related: Sciatica Exercises to Avoid

Sleeping Position

The position you sleep in can play a role in the development of hip pain during pregnancy, especially as you near the final weeks. Side sleeping, in particular, puts more pressure on the hip joints and can lead to pain.

Related: The Best and Worst Sleep Positions for Health Conditions

Poor Posture

Much of the weight gained during pregnancy is carried in the front and midsection of the body. Because of that, it may be more challenging to keep your spine aligned, leading to hunching over and poor posture to help manage the extra weight. The added pressure on the hips from slouching too far forward can drive hip pain during pregnancy.

Knowing the Cause of Your Hip Pain

Since there are many causes of hip pain during pregnancy, knowing the cause is helpful in determining proper treatment. There are remedies you can try at home before seeing a provider if the pain is mild, regardless of the cause.

Read Next: The 6 Best Posture Correctors, Tested and Reviewed

Home Remedies for Hip Pain During Pregnancy

Coping with hip pain during pregnancy isn’t easy, but there are various home remedies available to try to relieve the pain until you give birth. They include:

Exercises and Stretches

Exercises and stretches that stabilize the pelvic area can help relieve hip pain in some people who are pregnant. These types of exercises or stretches focus on the core and hips.

Yoga and Pilates are low-impact options that help relieve hip pain during pregnancy. Research shows that Pilates is a helpful exercise during pregnancy because it can help strengthen the muscles around the hip joint and core, improving pelvic balance and pain.

Safety Measures for Using Exercise for Hip Pain

Many exercise programs focused on yoga and Pilates principles are low impact, but not all should be performed by pregnant people. Ask your healthcare provider before proceeding with any new exercise programs when in doubt.

Proper Posture and Body Mechanics

Maintaining proper posture is crucial during pregnancy, and while it’s challenging because of extra weight being carried, it can be done to improve hip pain. For better posture, you can:

  • Wear supportive shoes throughout pregnancy.

  • Walk as often as you can (and if allowed by your healthcare provider).

  • Be conscious of your posture and roll your shoulders back and down when you notice yourself slouching.

You could also invest in a belly band to help support your back, hips, and pelvic region during pregnancy. It is a wearable device that wraps around the lower abdomen.

Learn More: 6 Simple Ways to Maintain Perfect Posture

Drug-Free Pain Relief Techniques

If given the go-ahead from your healthcare provider, you could also try some drug-free pain relief techniques, such as massage, chiropractic care, and warm compresses.

Massages and chiropractic care can have a positive effect on hip pain during pregnancy because they help relieve pressure in the area. To perform a self-massage, you will need to use gentle circular motions to massage the pelvic area.

In chiropractic care, your healthcare provider will perform the appropriate spinal manipulations based on your pain levels and needs. Heat therapy, such as a warm compress, can also relieve pain by increasing blood flow to the area to relax muscles and reduce stress on the joints.

Baths and Hip Pain During Pregnancy

While a warm bath can be helpful, sitting in water that is too hot can reduce blood flow to the fetus and raise your body temperature to levels that are dangerous for the unborn infant.

Medical Intervention and Treatment for Hip Pain During Pregnancy

If your hip pain is severe enough, it might warrant the use of pain medications during pregnancy. To explore your options, your healthcare provider will examine your current state of health, the health of your unborn fetus, and what possible complications could occur.

While you can take some medication for hip pain, not all pain relievers are safe to take while pregnant. The best one to reach for is Tylenol (acetaminophen).

Other pain relievers, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), should be avoided unless your healthcare provider recommends them, as taking too many of these can lead to unwanted adverse effects, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). NSAIDs should especially be avoided during the third trimester.

Aspirin  (acetylsalicylic acid) should never be taken at a full dose while pregnant as it can thin the blood and is associated with bleeding in the fetus as well as the mother.

Your healthcare provider may recommend a lower, safer dose, mainly for the prevention of preeclampsia (a dangerous complication associated with high blood pressure). However, until they do, Aspirin should be avoided entirely.

Tylenol is a non-opioid pain reliever that is generally safe to use during pregnancy. However, it has been associated with fewer hematopoietic stem cells, so it should be avoided during the third trimester unless otherwise indicated by your healthcare provider.

Learn More: Acetaminophen vs. Ibuprofen

How to Prevent Hip Pain During Pregnancy

While treating hip pain during pregnancy can help you cope with the effects of the changes going on within your body, there are other things you can do to help prevent the pain from becoming extreme. Some possible ways to prevent hip pain during pregnancy are:

  • Avoid unnecessary weight gain.

  • Use a pregnancy pillow to relieve stress on the hips while sleeping.

  • Establish a good exercise routine using Pilates and other low-impact exercises.

  • Work on your posture.

  • Avoid lifting heavy objects.

When to Contact a Healthcare Provider

While hip pain is common during pregnancy, some signs indicate you should see your healthcare provider. They include:

  • Signs of preterm labor, including pressure and soreness that radiates toward the thighs from the pelvic area before the 37th week of pregnancy

  • Cramping and discomfort in the lower abdomen

  • Aches in the lower back that extend to the front and sides of the body

  • Experiencing contractions unexpectedly that come and go every ten minutes

  • Pink, clear, or brown vaginal discharge


Hip pain during pregnancy is common, especially during the third trimester. While it can be challenging to cope with, there are several ways you can treat the pain without putting yourself or your unborn child in danger. The best nondrug approaches include massage therapy, yoga and Pilates, and posture awareness.

Your healthcare provider may recommend a pain reliever if the pain is too severe. Typically, the best one for those who are pregnant is Tylenol, but your healthcare provider may suggest others based on your pain levels and overall state of health.

When experiencing hip pain during pregnancy that limits your ability to perform daily tasks, it's essential to contact your healthcare provider for care and support and avoid any over-the-counter medications unless they give you the go-ahead.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.