The last thing you want to endure is issues with sciatica during pregnancy. While pregnant, you’ll likely be dealing with insomnia, leg cramps, random aches and pains, stress, and nausea. Debilitating back pain isn’t exactly something you’d like to add to the list of pregnancy symptoms.
Whether you’ve experienced sciatica prior to your pregnancy or this is your first flare-up, you’re seeking answers. You’re probably wondering what causes sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy, and maybe even whether sciatica can harm the baby. You probably also want to know how long it will last, along with any advice on how to relieve sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy.
Throughout the remainder of this article, we will answer all this and more. Let’s start with a textbook definition of what sciatica is, for those who aren’t as familiar.
What Is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a painful type of back pain that occurs when the sciatic nerve gets pinched or compressed. This is relatively common even in those who are not pregnant, and people live with it every day.
With sciatica, you’ll experience flare-ups where your nerve is agitated, and this can lead to severe pain that can even prevent you from being able to walk for a short period of time.
It’s easy to differentiate sciatica from other types of low back pain. Unlike regular back pains, sciatic nerve pain leads to shooting pains down your hip, the back of the legs, and even into your foot.
What Causes Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy?
The reason you may experience a sciatic nerve pain flare-up during pregnancy may have to do with your expanding uterus.
As the baby grows, more pressure gets placed on all of mom’s surrounding organs, joints, bones, and so on. Because the sciatic nerve runs down your spine, sometimes it gets compressed or pinched by the increased pressure too, causing shooting pains.
You are most likely to experience sciatic nerve pain during the third trimester of pregnancy, as your baby starts getting bigger and takes up more space. This also means sciatica could get worse up until delivery.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Sciatica During Pregnancy?
Common symptoms of sciatic pain during pregnancy include:
- Constant or occasional discomfort on one side of your body, in the leg and/or hip
- Pain along the sciatic nerve path, which runs from the hip down the back of your thigh and to the foot
- Pins and needles, numbness, or weakness in the back and lower body
- Sharp, shooting, or burning pain in the lower back and lower body
- Difficulty standing, walking, or sitting due to back and leg pain
- Poor bladder control
Whether you’re dealing with sudden lower back discomfort that radiates to the back of your leg or you’re simply concerned about the onset of a new symptom / pregnancy pain, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your OB/GYN.
Can Sciatica in Pregnancy Harm My Baby?
The good news is, despite the discomfort, your baby is not at risk of harm from sciatic nerve pain.
How Long Does Sciatica Pain Last During Pregnancy?
Once you develop your first sciatica flare-up during pregnancy, it’s likely you’ll experience more flare-ups throughout the remainder of the pregnancy.
After all, your belly is only going to get bigger and that puts more pressure on your sciatic nerve. But, take comfort in the fact that pregnancy-related sciatica almost always goes away after delivery. Once that pressure is relieved, your sciatic nerve begins to recover on its own.
How Can I Relieve Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy?
Sciatic nerve pain can be excruciating. Thankfully, we have some great tips to relieve sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy.
All of these are completely safe for you and your child, and many of them can be done in the comfort of your own home.
One of the best remedies for sciatica flare-ups is stretching. There are a few different stretches you can practice to seek relief.
The first is a piriformis stretch -- this muscle is located deep in your glutes. Piriformis pain can be mistaken for sciatic pain, but stretching this muscle can also help relieve true sciatic pain, too.
- First, lie on your back, with both legs bent in a comfortable 45-degree (or so) angle, with your feet flat on whatever surface you’re stretching on (a yoga mat on the floor is a good place to stretch as long as you can get up yourself when you’re done, otherwise even the bed is OK, too!)
- Next, cross the leg you’re stretching over the other — imagine how you might cross one leg over the other when you’re sitting in a chair; this is what you’re doing, but lying down!
- Then, grab the knee of your crossed leg with one hand, and the ankle of your crossed leg with the other hand.
- Gently pull your knee toward the opposite-side shoulder.
Another good muscle to stretch for sciatica is the hamstrings, which run down the length of the underside of your leg. Tight hamstrings can often exacerbate sciatic nerve pain. Bending over to touch your toes and stretch your hamstrings isn’t quite as easy when you’re pregnant.
- An easier way to stretch your hamstrings with a baby bump is to sit on a flat surface with your legs straight in front of you.
- Without moving your legs, gently try to point your toes straight up to the sky — you should feel the stretch along the underside of your legs!
We also recommend stretching the hip flexors, as these muscles will often tighten up as a result of sciatic pain, further causing discomfort.
- To stretch your hip flexors, you’ll essentially do a lunge-like position where your knee will actually touch the ground.
- Get on one knee like you’re proposing — the knee on the ground should be on the side you want to stretch. Make sure you get to the ground nice and gentle, and that you have something nearby to help you up as needed.
- Gently push your pelvis and abdomen forward, and you should feel the front of your hip being stretched.
Other stretches that you can do to help ease symptoms of sciatica include:
- Pigeon pose
- Bound angle pose
- Child’s pose
- Table stretch
- Hip flexor stretch
To find an appropriate exercise program for your specific pregnancy stage, talk to your primary care provider, who can help guide you in the right direction to find relief.
Your doctor may suggest that you work with a physical therapist to guide you through a therapeutic program where you can learn techniques to combat pain.
Or, they may recommend that you start going to prenatal yoga classes — an excellent way to soothe both your muscles and mind!
If you have a heating pad, now is the time to use it! Warming up your lower spine, specifically where the pain is radiating from (the sciatic nerve) will help disperse swelling in that area and get blood flow to the injury site.
Another option is to take a warm bath, preferably with magnesium or Epsom salts. This will have a similar effect, albeit less targeted than the heating pad.
Contrary to how it appears, acupuncture is virtually painless.
This incredible holistic treatment for pain comes from traditional Chinese medicine to target certain pressure points that harmonize with your qi (pronounced CHEE) or life force.
When you give these points a little TLC, the energy is opened up, which then helps rebalance the body and restore health.
Acupuncture is perfectly safe, and since it offers pain relief without the use of medicine, it’s a great option for those with a bun in the oven.
Just be sure to opt for a trained and licensed professional who has extensive experience providing acupuncture treatment for pregnant women.
Although acupuncture during pregnancy has very few risks, some acupressure points are said to help induce contractions, which is why they should be avoided.
If you need help locating an acupuncturist, ask your OB/GYN or local doula association for recommendations.
When thinking of ways to soothe your sciatic pain, seeking out chiropractic care or physical therapy may not come to mind while you’re pregnant, but it can help.
As a chiropractic adjustment aims to realign the spine, which ultimately takes the pressure off of the nerve, many pregnant women are able to find relief from sciatica.
Because your posture is constantly changing during pregnancy, repeat sessions with a licensed chiropractor can help you maintain proper spinal alignment.
Massage with 8 Sheep
If you have a partner or can reach the muscles yourself, massages can be incredibly therapeutic for sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy.
For even more effective pain relief, massage with 8 Sheep Organics Magnesium Body Lotion. This is a magnesium lotion pregnant women all over the country have added to their arsenal for a variety of reasons. The magnesium will calm your agitated muscles, and provide pain relief.
The best part about this lotion is that it doesn’t just help with sciatic nerve pain. It can be used for any type of tight muscles or pain — whether it be your knees, hips, feet, you name it.
The best time to use this lotion is at night, as it will put you in the perfect state to fall asleep. With so many expecting mothers struggling with insomnia, this has been one of the most popular uses for it!
8 Sheep’s body lotion also prevents restless legs and cramps, moisturizes your skin, and smells amazing. It’s made from 100% organic ingredients, and only has 6 ingredients. These are all perfectly safe for you and your little one unlike most over the counter pain killers, so you can feel good about finding relief.
This lotion comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free today. Worst case, you send it back for a full refund. Best case, you find complete relief from your sciatic nerve pain, and get your sleep schedule back on track!
A Final Word
If you’re dealing with a lot of sciatic pain during your pregnancy, consult your doctor right away. Although there’s no real cure for sciatica, your primary care provider can recommend a number of safe remedies to help soothe discomfort.