Sciatica During Pregnancy: What to Know

Of all the pregnancy ailments, research shows that sciatica pain is one ailment that most pregnant individuals encounter at least once in their pregnancy. If you are unsure of what sciatica pain feels like, it is often described as nerve pain that runs up the sciatica nerve, typically through the lower back, in the hips, and down the leg. Some individuals describe it as a mild ache down one side of the body, and others describe it more similar to an electric shock. Other symptoms also caused by sciatica nerve pain are numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the foot or leg. In most cases, sciatica pain impacts one side of the body rather than both and can range from moderate to severe.

What Causes Sciatic Pain During Pregnancy?

When someone is pregnant, a hormone called Relaxin is released. This hormone is used to help the pelvis release and widen in preparation for birth. One side-effect of Relaxin release through the body is that ligaments loosen and the center of gravity shifts, which can cause nerve pain like sciatica. Another thing that can cause sciatica pain in pregnancy is your baby. As they grow and shift positions, there are times when they can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. More severe causes of sciatica pain are bone spurs and herniated disks. These are less commonly the cause of sciatica pain during pregnancy but should be examined if the symptoms are severe. 

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Finding Relief

In mild to moderate sciatica pain cases, relief may be found from a few different things.

 One of the most common ways to relieve sciatica discomfort is to lie down on the opposite side of where the pain is at. Sleeping and resting in this position can alleviate pressure from the sciatica nerve and, in turn, relieve discomfort from compression. Other advice is to avoid standing or sitting for long periods, swimming, taking warm showers and using hot and cold therapy to help with the pain, and avoiding heavy lifting. Along with these tips, there are some good stretching and yoga poses like the pigeon pose, bound angel pose, wide child’s pose, and modified warrior pose. Pelvic tilts are also extremely helpful for sciatica nerve pain as they strengthen the core and reduce inflammation. 

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Other relief options could be getting consistent chiropractic care throughout your pregnancy, scheduling prenatal massages or having a partner massage your sciatica, acupuncture, and wearing a pregnancy girdle or support system. Some individuals will find no ease of symptoms with these tips, while the pain might completely disappear for others. Continuing a conversation with your care provider and getting their advice for tips and tricks to help with the pain is always a good idea.

If your sciatica pain worsens, specifically when you cough, sneeze, or sit long, it is time to seek more medicalized care. Going to your care provider might help you access medications that help with severe sciatica pain during pregnancy or a referral for physical therapy, both of which can help relieve your symptoms. Although we know that in most cases, sciatica pain goes away after pregnancy, most care providers will do all they can to help relieve symptoms during your pregnancy because nobody should have to suffer for nine to ten months with no relief.

Takeaway

Although sciatica is one of the least threatening symptoms of pregnancy, it is also one of the most painful and dreaded by pregnant individuals everywhere. You are not alone if you are experiencing symptoms. Do your best to keep up on hydration as it can reduce inflammation, and avoid sugary foods as they can increase inflammation. And remember, you are doing all you can, and that is enough. There are some things in life that we cannot control, and sciatica pain is one of them. It is okay to ask for and receive help in pregnancy whenever needed.

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