During pregnancy, your body undergoes some of the biggest changes you’ll ever experience.
Although it doesn’t feel like a lot is happening during your first trimester, your body is working overtime to accommodate your rapidly growing baby and expanding uterus.
Many pregnant women experience a few aches and pains as their bodies adapt – both physically and hormonally.
Pain in buttocks during early pregnancy, though, might not be on the top of your list of things to expect.
There’s a number of causes for pain in buttocks during early pregnancy. We will discuss them further.
Pain in buttocks during early pregnancy
Some women experience this symptom without really knowing what’s causing it.
There are many theories about the causes of pain in buttocks during early pregnancy.
It could be the effect of rapid hormone changes, the body’s reaction to implantation and the transition into a pregnant state.
Each woman is different. You might simply be sensitive, in a certain area, to the subtle changes occurring as your baby and your uterus begin to grow.
There are several specific reasons why you might experience this sort of buttock pain so early in pregnancy.
Pain in buttocks during pregnancy – second trimester
Hemorrhoids (also known as piles) are a common occurrence in pregnant women. Quite literally, they are a ‘pain in the butt’.
Unfortunately, hemorrhoids are a common ailment; up to 35% of pregnant women experience them.
Hemorrhoids are varicose veins that occur around your bottom.
Progesterone causes the blood vessels – both internal and external – around the anus and rectum to relax and become swollen.
The increasing weight of your expanding uterus also puts additional pressure on the blood vessels in this region, causing hemorrhoids.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids
- Itching, aching, soreness or swelling around the anus: this can radiate pain into the surrounding area
- Pain during a bowel movement: you can feel pain as you pass a stool
- Dull aches and pains following a bowel movement: you might feel pain as the vessel become irritated
- A lump hanging outside of the anus: – you might see or feel an external lump after a bowel movement.
- Bleeding after passing a stool: you might experience some fresh red blood loss after a bowel movement.
Speak to your doctor if you are experiencing a significant amount of blood after passing stools
Hemorrhoids can usually be treated and resolved fairly quickly with some simple over the counter and home remedies.
Click here to read more about the causes of, and treatments for, hemorrhoids.
Can constipation cause buttock pain during pregnancy?
Many people with hemorrhoids have a history of constipation.
Straining during a bowel movement puts extra stress and pressure on the blood vessels around the bottom. Up to 40% of pregnant women will experience constipation.
It’s particularly problematic in pregnancy because progesterone slows down the digestive system.
This means that waste stays in the intestines and bowel for long periods of time.
As more and more water is removed during the process, the stool becomes harder, and more difficult to pass.
Severe constipation can lead to anal fissures, which are small tears or cracks in the delicate lining of the anus.
Fissures can cause sharp or shooting pain in the bottom which can radiate into buttock pain.
Pain in buttocks during pregnancy – third trimester
The pelvic girdle contains and supports pelvic organs, including the intestines, the bladder and internal sex organs.
Discomfort or pain in this area is known as pelvic girdle pain (PGP).
PGP can also affect the lower back and hips, causing pain not only in the pelvic region but also in the buttocks, groin, thighs and knees.
Causes of pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy:
- The pregnancy hormone relaxin helps to loosen the ligaments of the pelvis to make space for your baby in preparation for birth.
- Sometimes the ligaments can loosen too much, or can move unevenly, leading to instability in the pelvic girdle
- Normal pregnancy weight gain puts additional pressure on the sacroiliac and the symphysis pubis ligaments, which causes discomfort.
PGP is a common cause of pain during pregnancy.
According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pelvic girdle pain affects 1 in 5 pregnant women.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can occur at any point in the pregnancy.
For most women, PGP will go away after birth, but some experience ongoing pain throughout the postnatal period and beyond.
Sharp pain in buttocks during pregnancy
Buttocks pain is often a result of sciatica.
The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back through the buttocks and down the leg.
During pregnancy, extra pressure on the sciatic nerve can cause sharp shooting sciatica pain felt through the buttocks and/or the legs.
Sciatic nerve pain can radiate from the lower back and buttocks and travel down the legs towards the knee. It can be felt at any point along the length of the nerve.
Pain caused by sciatica can be felt on one side, or on both sides.
The site where you feel the sensation depends on where the nerve is irritated.
You might notice a burning sensation or a sharp shooting pain in the buttocks or down through one leg.
Some people experience numbness or tingling.
You might experience pain continuously or intermittently, depending on your activity.
Sciatica is more common in the third trimester but can occur at any stage in pregnancy.
Massage therapy, heat therapy and stretching, such as yoga, are all useful ways to help reduce sciatica.
It’s best to see a therapist who specialises in pregnancy to ask for advice about treatment.
Pressure in buttocks during pregnancy
Your baby’s weight gain will accelerate in the final weeks of pregnancy, as he begins to lay down more brown fat cells.
It’s normal for babies to put on between a quarter to half a pound (112-225 grams) per week from 36 weeks of pregnancy.
As the pelvis expands under the influence of the hormone relaxin, your baby begins to sink lower.
After the baby ‘drops’, the head presses on the nerves in the pelvis and the rectum.
This can feel like pressure, and even pain, in the buttocks area.
Cramps in buttocks during pregnancy
Cramps are also a literal pain in the butt for the pregnant woman.
Sometimes muscle tension in the back can contribute to cramping lower down.
If you suffer cramping and buttocks pain, it can help if you incorporate some daily stretching into your routine.
To alleviate cramps, add Epsom salts to your bath, and make sure you’re getting enough magnesium and potassium.
You might be keeping your fluids up but you could be low in these minerals, particularly if you live in a warmer climate.
Stretch marks on buttocks during pregnancy
Most women worry about stretch marks appearing during pregnancy.
Stretch marks occur when the skin’s collagen and elastin fibres stretch.
They’re basically little scars, which might appear as reddish-purple streaks, which fade to a silvery-white later.
There are hundreds of products marketed to ‘prevent’ or ‘remove’ stretch marks.
The truth is, your skin will stretch as your body grows and changes.
The end result can be stretch marks on all areas of your body, such as your belly, butt, legs and even breasts.
Genetics play a big part in whether or not you get stretch marks.
You can try to minimise them by avoiding rapid weight gain.
You should also stay well hydrated, and nourish your skin with a healthy diet; vitamin C is important for skin elasticity.
When to call your midwife or doctor
As you can see, there can be many causes for pregnancy-related butt pain.
Pain in buttocks during early pregnancy is less common than later in pregnancy.
Although it might be uncomfortable, it’s not usually harmful.
You might need to be medically reviewed if:
- Your pain becomes so severe it causes nausea or vomiting
- Pain, especially back pain, becomes increasingly worse (such as contraction pain)
- Pain isn’t resolved with treatment
- You’re taking any medication that is making the condition worse
- You have significant bleeding after a bowel movement.
If you are concerned about any symptoms you experience during pregnancy, don’t be embarrassed.
It’s always best to seek medical advice from your midwife or doctor.