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12 Ways To Ease Sciatica Pain in Pregnancy

Katlyn Joy |27, November 2013


Sciatic pain occurs quite often in expectant mothers. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower part of the spine and extends all the way down the leg, on the outside of the thigh, to the top portion of the foot.

What Causes Sciatica Pain?

As pregnancy progresses, a woman's uterus grows larger, and her center of balance is thrown off. Growing pressure is exerted from the pelvis on to the sacral or lower back nerves and the lumbar spinal nerves. These nerves connect to the sciatic nerve and all of them are compressed and irritated giving rise to the pain that is called sciatica.

What Does Sciatica Pain Feel Like?

Usually the symptoms begin in the third trimester of pregnancy, especially after the sixth month when the pressure is greatly increased from the pelvis into the back. Pregnant women complain of sharp, stabbing pain which may radiate down their back and leg and into the foot. It may occur on only one side or on both sides of the body. There may be burning sensations, in the leg and buttocks or uncomfortable tingles something like pins and needles in the same areas of the body. Numbness may occur and is often experienced in the thigh and in the foot especially.

12 Ways To Treat the Pain of Sciatica

Sciatica is not a simple condition to treat in expectant mothers. However, there are some strategies that may help ease the pain somewhat.

1. Be proactive. It's best to start working out and making sure you are in good shape before you get pregnant for your best chances of preventing back pain in general during pregnancy.

2. Talk to your doctor about your aches and pains. You don't need to suffer in silence and be "a good patient." Pain is sometimes unavoidable in pregnancy, but unless you went to medical school, you should consult with your physician to determine the cause of your pain and decide what measures may be most helpful to deal with it.

3. Sit up straight! Your mom was right! It's hard to mind your posture while pregnant because your ever-increasing load throws you off, but do your best to always shoulders up straight and your spine aligned. Don't lean too far backwards.

4. Use heat wisely to ease the aches. Taking a warm (not hot) bath or shower can loosen muscles and ease the pain. You might try warm compresses as well. However, you need to stay out of hot tubs.

5. Keep supported. Sit in chairs that offer comfort and support. Put your feet up regularly throughout the day. Invest in a comfy body pillow or pregnancy pillow.

6. Rub away the pain. Get a massage. If you can enlist your spouse to help you out, and if you can finagle the money and time, go see a certified massage therapist, particularly one experienced in prenatal massage.

7. Avoid lying on your back. Once your baby has grown large enough, typically by the fifth month or so, you should no longer lie on your back, but rather on your side when resting or sleeping.

8. Be careful when lifting anything bigger than a sack of potatoes. Don't lug loads of laundry up the basement stairs, especially since your risk of falls is far greater with your displaced center of gravity and resulting clumsiness. Limit the lifting and when you do, don't bend and lift but squat and lift. Be careful about lifting children. Try to sit and gather your toddler or preschooler into your lap.

9. Consider acupuncture or other alternative therapies along with your regular caregiver. Your physician will likely have recommendations for you on what to try and who they have referred patients to before for additional care.

10. Do not take any medication, whether herbal or over the counter, without first checking with your doctor. Many herbs are toxic to pregnant women or their fetuses.

11. Try exercise like regular walking or swimming. Swimming is especially good for pregnant women as the buoyancy of the water helps support the load on your body. It also is protective of your joints.

12. Try prenatal yoga. The gentle strengthening stretches and mindfulness of your body position can be especially helpful to pregnant women with sciatic pain.

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Showing 1 - 2 out of 2 Comments
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Queen Jun 27, 2014 12:37:29 PM ET

Is the possible to get pregnant when you don't see your period?

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MrsDBelcher Jun 13, 2014 12:09:34 PM ET

Chiropractic care is amazing for back pain and especially sciatica. It also helps to keep your body moving and prepare you for a much easier labor experience. I couldn't live without my adjustments. It even has helped me with my migraines during my last pregnancy and this pregnancy. I highly recommend anyone dealing with any of these pains to find a chiropractor in your area that is experienced in prenatal care. It even helps with hip discomfort towards the end.

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