Hip Changes and Pregnancy: What To Expect During & After

| Reviewed By Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN

During the course of your pregnancy, your hips will naturally expand to accommodate your growing belly and aid in your baby’s delivery. While every woman’s body is different, it is typical for hips to gradually widen as pregnancy progresses.

How many inches do hips widen during pregnancy? Hips widen about 1.5 inches during pregnancy, but it’s different for every woman. Some women’s hips widen as much as six inches, while others hardly notice a difference. You may want to invest in wider pants to accommodate your new hips as your body adjusts to the growing baby inside you.

In the following, you’ll learn more about how your hips change during pregnancy and what to expect.

Hip Changes During Pregnancy

Let’s find out why your hips change during pregnancy and what, if anything, to do about it.

Why Hips Widen During Pregnancy

Hips widen during pregnancy to hold the baby comfortably in the mother’s body and prepare for the baby to exit the birth canal. This widening is a gradual process due to the protein relaxin, which loosens your joints and ligament fibers.

Hip widening increases your pelvic bone’s mobility over time, allowing the pelvis to widen. As a result, you can better accommodate your baby during the final stages of pregnancy and labor. 

When Do Your Hips Widen During Pregnancy?

Your hips widen around 10 to 12 weeks in your pregnancy. During this time, the protein relaxin increases to allow more mobility in your ligaments and bones.

Your hips will continue to widen throughout the duration of your pregnancy. They may stay wide until about 12 weeks after you’ve delivered your baby. However, for some women, this widening lasts longer.

What To Expect

As your hips widen during pregnancy, you may notice your hips are looser and less stable. Some women also have issues finding their balance when their hips get wider.

Hips typically widen between 1.5 and 6 inches in most women. You should get pants that fit over your new hips to alleviate any pain or discomfort.

Will My Hips Go Back to Normal After Pregnancy?

After pregnancy, your hips will most likely return to pre-pregnancy size about 12 weeks after delivery. You’ll notice a change in mobility and stability when your progesterone levels decrease and your body stops producing the relaxin protein.

However, remember that every woman’s body is different, and it may take more or less time for your bones to return to their pre-pregnancy state.

How To Shrink Hips After Pregnancy

You can use a comprehensive exercise and nutrition routine to help stabilize your hips following a pregnancy:

  • Boost your metabolism with a cardio workout.
  • Incorporate circuit training into your exercise routine.
  • Make daily walking part of your schedule.
  • Participate in strength and resistance-training exercises to build muscle.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to give your body enough healthy fuel.

Pregnancy Hip Pain

Mild hip pain during pregnancy is normal as your body adjusts to the growing baby inside of you.

Causes

Pregnancy hip pain is due to hormonal and other changes in your body. Relaxin loosens the ligaments and bones, making your hips widen. Changes in posture, an expanding uterus, and additional weight gain can contribute to hip pain.

What’s Normal

The growing baby inside you can cause extra pressure on your sciatic nerve, resulting in numbness, tingling, or pain in your thighs, buttocks, and hips.

During the second trimester, you may also experience sharp pains in your groin, abdomen, and hips. The pain may get worse if you move too quickly to change positions.

During the third trimester, as the baby changes positions, you can expect relief from this uncomfortable condition. 

When To Be Concerned

Although hip pain is typically normal during pregnancy, you should let your doctor know if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Brown, pink, or clear vaginal discharge.
  • Lower abdominal discomfort and cramping.
  • Unexpected, regularly timed contractions,
  • Lower backache that doesn’t go away when you change positions.

Pregnancy Hip Pain Relief

You can relieve hip pain by:

  • Strengthening your back and abdominal muscles through exercise.
  • Holding your hips above chest level while lying down.
  • Applying warm compresses or taking a bath.
  • Sleeping on your side with your knees bent.
  • Placing a pillow between your legs as you sleep or lay down.

Permanent Body Changes After Pregnancy

A new mom with a strange expression on her face holding her baby while sitting outside on a park bench.

Hip pain may be a temporary change for some women, but you can expect your body to change permanently in some of the following ways after you deliver your baby.

1. Higher Levels of Stress

Permanent changes in the brain during pregnancy can cause some women to produce more cortisol, the stress hormone.  As a result, you may become more focused on nurturing, protecting, and parenting your new baby.

2. Bigger Feet

Toward the end of pregnancy, your feet may begin to swell, and they may continue to be bigger even after giving birth.

Although most women’s feet return to their pre-pregnancy size after a few months, some women permanently grow more than half a shoe size from pregnancy.

3. Stretch Marks

Stretch marks develop during pregnancy from the expanding skin usually caused by the weight you gain as your baby grows. Even though these marks will usually fade over time, some never completely disappear. 

4. Smaller or Larger Breasts

Whether you breastfeed or not, your breasts can change in size during and after pregnancy. They grow during pregnancy because of weight gain and anticipation of nursing a baby.

Whenever your body stops producing milk, your breasts may return to their pre-pregnancy size or take on a new shape.

5. Brown Face Spots

Melasma causes some pregnant women to develop brown spots on their faces. This darkening of the face usually goes away after some time, but for some women, melasma is a permanent condition. 

6. Trouble Controlling Your Pee

If you have to cross your legs every time you sneeze or laugh, you may have urinary incontinence. This issue usually resolves on its own, but it may take longer if you delivered a large baby vaginally.

Related Questions:

Can Your Hips Be Too Narrow for Childbirth?

Your hips can be too narrow for childbirth, but the condition is very rare. Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) is when the pelvis is too small to deliver a baby. In that case, you’d need a cesarean section to deliver your baby. 

What Are Childbearing Hips?

The term “childbearing hips” refers to a large, wide pelvic structure found in some women. This pelvic type was considered the most favorable for labor and delivery.

However, modern research shows that a woman with childbearing hips doesn’t necessarily have an easier time giving birth than other women.

Conclusion

Widening hips is one of the many ways your body changes during pregnancy. Instead of trying to change your body back to what it was, embrace your new body as a reminder of how strong and resilient it is.