Admit it, when you think of Sciatica, you envision Grandpa John bent over saying “oh my aching back.” You probably never realized how severe sciatic nerve pain when pregnant could be until you felt that first shooting pain down your leg. Sciatic pain can be downright disabling – some women actually have difficulty walking during the last months of their pregnancy because of it. Luckily, most cases are not as severe, and understanding what causes the pain can help you to determine some strategies for alleviating it.
Sciatic nerve pain when pregnant is caused by increasing pressure on your sciatic nerve. This nerve, the largest in your body, runs right underneath your uterus and all the way down to your toes. Your growing baby is sitting right on top of this nerve and, depending on the baby’s position as well as your physical condition, your sciatic nerve can becoming very inflamed and cause sharp pains in one leg.
The obvious solution is to find a way to remove the additional pressure on your sciatic nerve. Because the baby will be there until delivery day, it is up to you to change your habits and movements to alleviate the symptoms of sciatic nerve pain when pregnant.
First, figure out which side of your body the pain is on. This isn’t very difficult, because the pain of sciatica is unlike any other pregnancy pain you will experience. It is sharp and often described as ‘shooting’ down the leg. Whenever possible, attempt to alleviate the pain by ‘favoring’ the good side. A great way to do this is to sleep on the side opposite to the pain.
Next, carefully consider your movement, or lack thereof, during the day. If your job requires you to sit or stand for extended periods of times, try to find ways to break that up. If you have a desk job, consider standing for several minutes each hour – perhaps while making phone calls. If your job requires you to stand, be sure to use your breaks to sit comfortably and take off the pressure.
Finally, you may want to consider using alternative therapies. Massage, yoga and physical therapy are all great options. Another possibility is heat therapy. Be sure to discuss this option with your doctor. They may recommend warm (not hot) baths or hot water bottles to help ease some of the inflammation on your sciatic nerve.
Doctors are unlikely to recommend painkillers for any type of sciatic pain when pregnant. Instead, they may prescribe visits with a physical therapist or a chiropractor to assist you with your pain. Remember that the pain of sciatica will only last as long as you are pregnant. Like many of the ailments of pregnancy, the second you deliver your baby your pain will magically disappear.
Dealing with the pain of sciatica is a simple matter of taking care of yourself. Be mindful of how much time you spend walking, sitting or standing. Eat properly, get enough rest and perform pregnancy exercises to keep you and your baby healthy and help ease the pain of sciatica.