FEELING PAIN RUNNING FROM YOUR BUTT TO LEG? COULD IT BE SCIATICA? HERE’S A SCOOP AT WHAT IS SCIATICA IN PREGNANCY AND HOW RELIEVE SCIATIC NERVE PAIN DURING PREGNANCY.
If you are in your second or third trimester of pregnancy, you know by now that there are more to pregnancy than the happy firsts – like joy of being pregnant, first baby kick and not-so-happy firsts – like morning sickness, Heartburn or Constipation.
But who would have a thought about sciatica in pregnancy? Not to worry, there are 10 ways to relieve sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy.
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What is Sciatica pain in Pregnancy?
Sciatica is the inflammation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, starts in the lower back and runs down the buttocks to the back to the legs. Although the sciatic nerve is in both legs, when you get sciatic pain, it usually affects one side. Thank God!!
Sciatica is most common in the third trimester of pregnancy when growing baby put pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Related reading: Third Trimester Pregnancy Checklist: Your Ultimate Guide
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What Does Sciatic Nerve Pain Feel Like?
The pain can be sharp, shooting, burning or numbness that starts in the buttocks or back and run down the backs of legs. Pain can be constant or intermittent.
Some pregnant women experience dull and deep pain in the middle of the back or the butt, while others feel sharp and shooting pain of sciatica in pregnancy. Fortunately, it is short-term side effect of pregnancy.
What Causes Sciatica in Pregnancy?
You don’t have to be pregnant to get a sciatica. It affects both men and women. Sciatica usually occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched by bulging or herniated disc, arthritis or spinal stenosis. Being overweight or wearing high heels can also increase stress on the spine.
But, sciatica in pregnancy is mostly a short-lived condition caused by one or combination of the following factors:
Weight gain during pregnancy can put extra pressure on the nerve and compressing it. It doesn’t mean to stop weight gain. Pregnancy is the only time you can eat as much as you want and not feeling guilty about it.
Swollen feet and hand during pregnancy are a sign of fluid retention. It can also put pressure on sciatic nerve.
Shifting and stretching of joints/ligaments
In preparation of birth, pregnancy hormone (relaxin) loosen the joints. This can cause lot of stretching and shifting of the ligaments and joints of pelvis, leading to sciatic nerve pain in pregnancy.
Growing baby getting on your nerve
The weight of growing baby can put pressure on a sciatic nerve. As baby grows, pressure increases.
Center of gravity
Growing belly can cause shift in your gravity and stretch the curve of your lower back or lordotic curve. This can cause the muscles of your glutes and quads to tighten and pinch the sciatic nerve.
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Some researcher believe that Sciatica can also be triggered by emotional anxiety. Reason being in time of stress, the brain deprives oxygen in the nerves running in the lower back, resulting in symptoms such as leg pain, weakness.
Third trimester is pretty stressful as you are getting ready for childbirth. Fear of giving birth to a baby is real and even more scary is bringing baby home. No matter how prepare you are, it is normal to feel anxious for something that is as unpredictable as childbirth and it could add to worsening your sciatic near pain.
One way to relive anxiety of childbirth is getting educated about it.
You may have checked off everything on your third trimester checklist but have you thought about educating yourself for childbirth process. Taking online prenatal class is great way to acquaint yourself about nitty gritty of childbirth.
Birth It Up! one of the most affordable yet most educational class to prepare you for everything you need to know about labor and delivery including how to cope with pain, how to push, how to breath during labor, and most importantly how to relieve your mental and physical stress about childbirth.
Read my full review about Birth It Up!: Natural series here.
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What are the Symptoms of Sciatica in Pregnancy?
Here’re the most common symptoms of sciatica in pregnancy:
- Back Pain
- Pain on one side of buttocks or leg
- Sharp, shooting pain
- Dull, deep pain
- Burning pain down the leg
- Difficulty walking or standing for long period
- Hip pain
How to Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy?
Once you have a sciatica pain, it is hard to ignore. Here are the natural ways to relieve sciatica.
1.Warm and cold compresses
Alternating warm and cold compresses can help relieve sciatic nerve pain.
Use ice pack for 20 minutes at affected area several times a day after the pain begins. It helps reduce inflammation at
In between cold compresses use warm compresses to help sooth sore muscle.
Remember to cover skin with towel before using warm or cold compresses to protect your skin.
2. Apple cider vinegar soak
There is no science behind it, but some mamas found relief using this simple yet effective natural remedy.
- Fill the bucket with 10 liters of water.
- Water should be at highest temperature that is bearable. (Don’t burn yourself!!)
- Add a handful of salt and half a liter of apple cider vinegar to the warm water bucket.
- Shake the mixture well.
- Put your feet in the bucket and keep them there until water cools.
3. Piriformis Stretching
Muscle tension can contribute to sciatica. The piriformis muscle, muscle deep in the glute, is prone to tightening. Performing stretch exercise like- table stretch, hip flexor stretches, the baby pose, standing hamstring stretch can help tremendously. You can watch this videos to learn to perform this exercises correctly.
While performing these stretches, if you have increased pain, tingling or numbness than stretching is not for you. Do stretches that are comfortable for you. You can use hot compresses for 10 min prior to stretching on your butt or hamstring.
Doing pelvic tilts along with your Kegels can help strengthen core muscle and help reduce inflammation.
Swimming is a great exercise when you are pregnant. It can take off some of the pressure of pregnancy weight from spine. Swimming is particularly helpful when sciatica is due to pressure of growing uterus.
5. Sleeping Right
Mostly, sciatica pain is experienced only on one side of the body. So, sleep on the side of your body that is not affected. Suppose you have pain on right side, sleep on left side. Ideally, left side is better side for pregnant women to sleep.
For extra comfort, sleep on firm mattress and with pregnancy pillow or normal pillow between your legs to better align pelvis and take off some pressure of sciatic nerve.
6. Prenatal Massage
Message is not only relaxing but also therapeutics. Prenatal massage from a licensed practitioner can help ease sciatica pain. Prenatal message can loosen up tissue to relieve muscle tension. Regular deep piriformis muscle and glute muscle message can help tremendously.
7. Chiropractic Care
Some mothers-to-be found it very helpful for sciatic pain relief. Trained and licensed chiropractor can realign your vertebrae to reduce compression of sciatic nerve. You may need a repeated session with chiropractor as your posture is constantly changing during pregnancy.
8. Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been effectively used for back pain relief for ages. Research also support its effectiveness for treating sciatic nerve pain (source).
9. Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium is a mineral that helps ease sciatica by reducing inflammation. It is also a major component in nerve functionality. This interesting research study performed in 2011 suggest that magnesium supplements may improve sciatic nerve regeneration and decrease inflammation (source).
Magnesium can also be found in foods like – green leafy vegetable, legumes, nuts, seeds, banana, avocado.
10. Activity Modification
Sciatica pain is either constant or intermittent. If you identify and then modify your triggers, it will help you reduce the symptoms. Sometimes you will find your symptoms are worst at sitting in the car or sitting in chair at workplace. Here’re are some tips on activity modification.
- While sitting, keep your feet flat on the ground, with your knees and hips level.
- Do not cross your leg.
- Do not slouch or bend forward.
- Avoid sitting for long time.
Try standing as much as you can, as sitting makes your symptoms worse. You can use standing desk at workplace. Although it will not be easy to stand long period with pregnancy weight, you can set yourself a reminder to stand up every 20 min to give sciatic nerve a break.
Do pregnancy pillows help with sciatica?
Sort answer is yes. Placing a pregnancy pillow between your legs will help keep pelvis in better alignment and take some pressure off the sciatic nerve. Finding a right pillow and pillow arrangement will help you relieve stress on your sciatic nerve and will make it easier to get some good night sleep.
Recommended Reading: Best Sleeping Pillow for Pregnancy
How long am I going to suffer from Sciatica in Pregnancy?
Some women may notice relief as the baby grow and changes position in the womb.
Sciatica may last even after childbirth, until some of the weight gain is lost and sciatic nerve is no longer compressed by any factors.
When to see Doctor for Sciatic Nerve Pain?
You can contact your healthcare provider if,
- Pain is severe and making your daily activity difficult
- Lower extremity weakness
- Numbness in upper thighs, and/or loss of bowel control
- Pain doesn’t go away few months after childbirth
If you are experiencing a sciatica in pregnancy, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor before jumping into any alternative therapies. Remember, soon you won’t have a growing baby getting on your nerve!!
How about You?
Did you experience Sciatica in pregnancy? What did you do to relieve the sciatic nerve pain? Please comment below.
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