How to Help with Sciatica Pain During Pregnancy

Have you been dealing with intense back pain throughout your pregnancy? It could be sciatica! Also referred to as lumbosacral radicular syndrome, sciatica is a nerve pain that occurs due to irritation or injury in the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is a very common side effect of pregnancy, and is caused by your baby growing and adding more pressure on your uterus, which then compresses the nerves. The pain can be pretty intense in some cases, and even make walking uncomfortable. Here is what you need to know about sciatica and how to help if you are experiencing this pregnancy symptom! 

What causes sciatica?

The sciatic nerve branches off of the spinal cord and runs down your legs through the buttocks. You may experience sciatica pain when the sciatic nerve is irritated. Because of these nerves, you’re able to feel sensations like temperature, pressure, and pain in your lower back, legs, and feet.

During pregnancy, the uterus expands while the fetus grows. This can sometimes apply pressure on the sciatic nerve. As a result, pregnant women may experience irritation, inflammation, and pain. If you experience pain shooting from your lower back and radiating down your legs, there is a good chance it’s sciatica.

As the baby gets bigger, the pressure on the nerve increases due to the extra weight. Sometimes, sciatica occurs due to conditions like slipped disk or a spasm of the piriformis muscle in the buttocks.

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

Sciatic pain often occurs with the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the sciatic nerve, running from your buttocks down to your foot through the back of your thigh
  • Constant or occasional pain in one side of your leg or buttocks
  • Pins and needles, numbness, or weakness in the affected foot or leg
  • Difficulty standing, walking, or sitting
  • Burning, sharp, or shooting pain

How can I prevent sciatica?

Here are a few ways to prevent sciatica:

  • Regular exercise: It’s essential to pay attention, especially to your core muscles, if you want to keep your back strong. The muscles in your lower back and abdomen play a vital role in maintaining posture and alignment.
  • Maintaining proper posture when sitting: Sit on chairs with armrests, good lower back support, and a swivel base. Let your knees be at hip level. You can place a rolled towel or pillow behind you to maintain your back’s normal curve.
  • Using good body mechanics: Allow your lower extremities to do the work when lifting a heavy object. If you often stand for lengthy periods, rest your foot on a small box or stool periodically. Don’t lift and twist simultaneously.
  • Alignment and meditation: Practicing breathing during pregnancy opens up your body and puts you in a meditative state.

How can I help manage sciatica?

These practical techniques can help you manage sciatica:

Physical therapy

Physical therapy decreases sciatica pain by improving blood flow, reducing inflammation, and realigning muscles and joints. It may include exercise therapy, osteopathy, or one on one work with a specialist. You can also soak in a warm Epsom salt bath with about 2 to 3 cups of Epsom salt and about 5 to 6 drops of Young Living lavender essential oil.

Chiropractic care

Many people go for chiropractic care when treating sciatica pain. Chiropractic care realigns your vertebrae and puts everything back where it belongs. Chiropractic care can help reduce the compression of your sciatic nerve.

Prenatal massage

We all agree that massages are relaxing. They are even more enjoyable during pregnancy, and people with sciatica will find it to be very therapeutic. You can even massage at home! Have your partner massage some magnesium oil directly into your sore muscles; that can help alleviate the tension.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your care provider to see what other steps you can take to help you manage your sciatica pain.