If you’re newly pregnant, you may be wondering what’s in store for your body. Widening of the hips naturally occurs towards the end of pregnancy in preparation for delivery.
The body goes through many changes during pregnancy. Your belly grows, bust swells, and hips widen. These changes are caused by hormonal changes that begin soon after conception. While I knew that my body would transform during pregnancy, nothing prepared me for ‘hip spreading’.
Widening of the hips can be an uncomfortable, yet necessary change that typically occurs in the last few weeks of pregnancy. As the pelvic joints and ligaments relax, they begin to loosen and expand which allows a baby to pass through the birth canal. Following delivery, the hips will revert back to some degree. However, many new moms will maintain their wider hips indefinitely.
Your hips will usually start to widen in the third trimester, according to Parents Magazine. As pregnancy progresses, weight gain can also cause fat to collect on the outside of this hips, making them look even wider.
What the Experts Say
Knowing what to expect can make changes that occur during pregnancy less of a surprise. To make room for baby, ligaments in the hips and pelvis that hold your bones together separate, resulting in normal aches and pains. Here’s what some experts have to say about hip spreading during pregnancy.
“Many different body parts expand during pregnancy, and sometimes they stay that way. The culprit is the (appropriately named) hormone relaxin, which helps loosen or “relax” the ligaments so that your body can make room for baby. The most obvious place where expansion occurs is, of course, in the pelvic region – the bones slowly spread to make way for a growing fetus, as well as for his or her eventual delivery.”
Janice Min, How to Look Hot in a Minivan
“The pelvic area most affected by relaxin is the Symphysis Pubis and Sacroiliac Joints. Due to this natural occurrence, some women do experience wider hips after pregnancy.”
UpSpring, Understanding Postpartum Hip Changes and Hip Binding
“Depending on your body type, you may be worried or excited about the possibility of your hips widening due to pregnancy. Either way, it is going to happen. For some women, this will be more noticeable than others.”
Veronica Mitchell, Does Your Hips Widen During Pregnancy? Yes, With Other Changes Too
“Hip pain during pregnancy is a common symptom that you may experience. This discomfort is most often felt late in pregnancy, specifically the third trimester. This occurs because your body is preparing for labor.”
American Pregnancy Association, Hip Pain During Pregnancy
“The job of supporting your growing belly puts stress on your back. Your hips and pelvis begin to ache as pregnancy hormones relax the ligaments that hold your bones together. Your bones move to prepare for childbirth.”
Family Doctor, Changes in Your Body During Pregnancy: Second Trimester
Changes in the Hips During Pregnancy
Up to 80 percent of women experience some degree of pelvic pain during pregnancy, according to What to Expect. This discomfort is associated with structural and biochemical changes that occur as the hormone relaxin is released, starting in the first trimester. In addition to “relaxing” the tendons, muscles, and ligaments in the pelvic region, the hormone also breaks down collagen and prevents it from being synthesized.
The sacroiliac joint (SIJ) is located between your pelvis and spine. Normally, the spine and pelvis would interlock to stabilize the joint. However, relaxin causes the joints to loosen and widen in both the front and back of the pelvis, causing the muscles in the pelvis to not work as efficiently as before.
Add in the weight of a growing baby and the pressure on your pelvis and hips can be quite significant.
Tips for Reducing Hip Pain
Even though some pain is unavoidable, there are steps you can take to reduce the painful side effects of your body’s changes. Here are a few ways to start.
- Avoid strenuous movements or activities that could put excess pressure on your pelvis, such as lifting heavy objects or standing on one leg.
- When standing from a sitting position, place even weight on both feet.
- Avoid lying flat on your back as this can put excessive pressure on blood vessels.
- Sleep on your side with a pillow under your pelvis and between your legs.
- When sitting, sit up straight and avoid slouching.
- Try wearing a maternity belt which may provide some pain relief.
Hip widening isn’t always noticeable right away. In fact, some women may not even realize that their hips have expanded until they try to fit into their pre-pregnancy pants. The amount that the hips widen can also vary from women to women.
The good news? You’ll likely forget about your slightly larger hips once you’re holding your newborn in your arms.