Sciatica in pregnancy: everything you need to know

Sciatica in pregnancy

by Adejumoke Ilori |
Published on

While every mama-to-be will experience different pregnancy symptoms, experiencing a running pain down your back and legs can be quite worrying. As your pregnancy develops, sciatic nerve pain can or may get worse as your baby gets larger, and it may even continue for a short time as your body changes postpartum.

We spoke to Emiliana Hall, doula and founder of The Mindful Birth Group to find out what you need to know about sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy.

What is Sciatica in pregnancy?

During your pregnancy journey a lot happens, from feeling your little bubba wriggling in your glowing and growing baby bump, and going through more uncomfortable symptoms such as piles in pregnancy or feet swelling, and of course back pain.

Some may experience a sharp and sore ache in the middle of their back or bottom, but sciatica during pregnancy can also be a persistent burning or throbbing sensation. Luckily this condition will pass.

What causes Sciatica during pregnancy?

Sciatica during pregnancy is often linked to the pressure exerted on the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body. This pressure can be attributed to various factors:

Weight gain: As the pregnancy progresses, the growing uterus can exert pressure on the sciatic nerve, leading to discomfort.

Posture changes: Alterations in posture to accommodate the changing body shape can contribute to sciatic nerve compression.

Hormonal changes: Pregnancy hormones, such as relaxin, can loosen ligaments, potentially affecting the alignment of the spine and contributing to sciatica.

Baby's position: The position of the baby in the uterus can also play a role in sciatic nerve compression.

Sciatica in pregnancy

How can I relieve Sciatica pain during pregnancy**?**

While sciatica during pregnancy can be challenging, several measures can help alleviate the discomfort:

Prenatal yoga: Engaging in prenatal pregnancy yoga under the guidance of certified instructors, can promote flexibility and reduce sciatic nerve pressure.

Physiotherapy: Seeking guidance from a physiotherapist can provide tailored exercises to alleviate sciatica symptoms.

Heat and cold therapy: Applying heat or cold packs to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and ease pain.

Gentle exercise: Incorporate gentle exercises approved by healthcare professionals to enhance flexibility and alleviate sciatic nerve pressure.

Pillows for support: Properly placed pillows while sitting or sleeping can offer support and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Massage: Consider gentle massages to relax tense muscles, but ensure they are performed by a trained professional.

Symptoms of sciatica pain

Identifying sciatica during pregnancy involves recognising the following symptoms:

Radiating pain: Sharp or shooting pain that travels from the lower back down to the leg.

Numbness or Tingling: Sensations of numbness or tingling in the buttocks, back of the leg, or foot.

Weakness: Weakness in the affected leg may also be present.

How long does sciatica pain last?

The duration of sciatica during pregnancy varies from person to person. For some, it may resolve on its own, while others may experience persistent symptoms. Seeking guidance from healthcare professionals is essential for personalised advice.

Is Sciatica worse at night?

For some people, sciatica symptoms may worsen at night due to the lack of movement and certain sleeping positions. Implementing supportive pillows and maintaining proper sleeping posture can help alleviate night-time discomfort.

Finding a comfortable sleeping position is crucial for managing sciatica during pregnancy:

Side sleeping: Sleeping on your side with a pregnancy pillow between your knees can alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Supportive mattress: Investing in a supportive mattress can provide additional comfort during sleep.

And, if you are wondering what causes Sciatica to flare yp during your pregnancy journey, this may flare up due to various triggers:

Poor posture: Maintaining good posture is essential to prevent exacerbating sciatica symptoms.

Lifting heavy objects: Avoid lifting heavy objects, as it can strain the lower back and contribute to sciatic nerve compression.

Stretches for sciatica pain

You can incorporate the following sciatica stretches under the guidance of healthcare professionals/trained therapists:

Pregnancy-safe yoga poses: Prenatal yoga poses that focus on gentle stretching and flexibility can be beneficial.

Pelvic tilts: Performing pelvic tilts can help strengthen the core and alleviate pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Cat-cow stretch: This yoga-inspired stretch can improve spine flexibility and ease sciatica discomfort.

While gentle massages can be beneficial, it's crucial to consult with a trained professional who can target the muscles around the sciatic nerve without causing harm. Massaging the lower back and buttocks with proper techniques may provide relief.

Mummy to a little girl, Adejumoke Ilori is Commercial Content Writer for Mother&Baby. With a BA hon in Creative Writing, she has worked for digital platforms, where she has empowered women from the inside and out, by sharing real life stories based on relationships, loving yourself and mummyhood.

Meet the expert:

Emiliana Hall is the founder of The Mindful Birth Group® which provides award-winning Mindful Natal® courses and the PregnaHub® online platform, as well as an accredited Teacher Training program and Midwife CPD courses. She is also an experienced Birth and Postnatal Doula. Emiliana's vision is to make vital antenatal and postnatal education and ongoing support accessible to everyone in the UK.

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