Sciatica During Pregnancy – Facts and Advice
Your sciatic nerve is the largest in your body. Sometimes this nerve becomes pinched or has pressure on it, causing sciatica. The sciatic nerve begins in your lower back, branches off and runs down through your buttocks, hips, legs and ankles.
Sciatica is a condition where you experience a shooting nerve pain which starts in your lower back and continues through your hips and legs. It can be caused by a number of factors including slipped or ruptured discs, poor spinal alignment, arthritis, and other spinal or nerve conditions. Many women experience back pain during pregnancy but sciatica during pregnancy is far less common.
What is Pregnancy Sciatica?
You can tell the difference between back pain and sciatica because sciatica presents as a sharp, shooting pain and continues from your lower back down through your buttocks, hips, and legs. The sensation is often stronger on one side of the body than the other. At times, sciatica pain can be so severe that you lose your balance or find yourself unable to stand. Sciatica is not a common pregnancy symptom. If you’re suffering from sciatica pregnancy pain, you probably had a tendency before you became pregnant and other symptoms are exacerbating it. Some of the factors which might worsen sciatica during pregnancy are:
- Pressure on the nerve
- Rapid Weight Gain
- An Altered Center of Gravity
Sciatica Pain Relief During Pregnancy:
It’s best to try natural pregnancy sciatica relief before turning to medical interventions. You may need to try several different pain relief techniques before you find one that works for you. And, if the pain is severe, you may need to consult your obstetrician or midwife. Many women find the following methods of pain relief effective:
- Gentle Stretches: Pregnancy sciatica stretches on a gym ball or yoga mat can help to strengthen the protective muscles around the nerve. Try sitting on the ball and gently lowering your hips towards the floor, or lying on your mat and elevating your arms and legs at the same time.
- Hot Water Bottle or Wheat Bag: Some targeted heat can make the world of difference to nerve pain – just make sure it’s not too hot.
- A Warm Bath: Again, the heat is really effective for relieving sciatica, and so is that heavenly feeling of weightlessness. Just don’t be tempted to turn those taps up too hot – you don’t want to cook your baby.
- Support Pillows: Try sleeping with targeted support pillows or wearing a brace during the day – it can keep some of that pressure of the nerve. Find out more about the best pregnancy support products here.
- Regular Exercise: It seems backward, but a daily walk can actually help to prevent aches, pains, and sciatica during pregnancy.
- Prenatal Massage: Find a therapist who specializes in prenatal massage to help relax the muscles around your sciatic nerve.
- Physiotherapy: A trained prenatal physiotherapist can teach you effective stretches for easing sciatica.
- Acupuncture: There are lots of questions around how safe acupuncture during pregnancy is. As long as you make sure you choose a certified practitioner who specializes in pregnancy acupuncture, it is perfectly safe, and many women find it an effective method of sciatica pain relief during pregnancy.
- Weight Management: Rapid weight gain can contribute to pressure on the sciatic nerve. Manage weight gain to ensure you’re not gaining more than is necessary during your pregnancy. Read more about healthy diets for pregnancy here.
Medical Sciatica Treatment During Pregnancy:
If these natural methods of sciatica relief during pregnancy do not ease the symptoms, you will need to see your doctor. He or she will most likely prescribe a course of Acetaminophen in a pregnancy-safe dosage. This will help relieve the nerve pain without causing harm to you or the baby.
More on Pregnancy Symptoms, Pains, and Relief:
Abdominal cramps are a common symptom during pregnancy. What causes the cramps? Is there any way to relieve them naturally? Find out more here.
It could be that you are experiencing intense back pain, rather than sciatica during pregnancy. Find out more about the causes and treatment of back pain during pregnancy here.
Two symptoms which seem to make all of the other symptoms of pregnancy harder to bear are fatigue and insomnia. Read more about ways to treat pregnancy insomnia naturally here.