The ailments that can occur during pregnancy run the gamut from nagging nausea to intense headaches and everything in between. Receiving relief from your most pressing pregnancy side effects is crucial. If you struggle with back pain during pregnancy, you may be on the hunt for pregnancy sciatica remedies.
"As a mom-to-be gets farther along in their pregnancy, their posture changes and center of gravity has shifted, putting more pressure on the lower back. We now sit more as a whole and not move as much as we used to. Sitting can easily cause pelvic misalignments that cause sciatic pain," Dr. Brenda Fairchild, a board-certified chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy and pediatrics tells Romper.
The largest nerve in your body, the sciatic nerve runs under your uterus and into your legs, and the pressure from your growing baby can put pressure on the nerve and cause pain, according to Healthline. Some women experience a stabbing pain, while others might feel tingling or numbness.
During my first pregnancy, I experienced mild sciatica that presented as a burning sensation that ran from my lower back down through my legs. While it was most definitely uncomfortable, I can report that my particular case did clear up after giving birth and did not return during my second pregnancy.
Again, every pregnancy is different, and you should definitely discuss any potential pregnancy sciatic remedies with your doctor before trying them, but here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Move Your Body
My pregnancy sciatica was worst when I was standing for long periods of time, so I tried my best to keep moving or lay down when the pain got too intense. It was hard, but in the long-run, it did help. "Make sure you are getting plenty of rest, but you also need to move your body," Dr. Fairchild recommends. "Walking outside is great to help keep the pelvis open and loose. You will also get natural vitamin D from the sun and in the winter you might need to supplement."
2. See A Chiropractor
"One of the best ways to help with sciatica is to see a prenatal chiropractor. You want to make sure they are specialized in The Webster Technique," Dr. Fairchild says. "This technique was designed for pregnant women and is the go-to technique for balancing the maternal pelvis for optimal fetal position in utero."
3. See A Physical Therapist
In addition to remedies you might try yourself and getting a chiropractic adjustment, Megan Davidson, a Brooklyn-based doula and author of Your Birth Plan suggests seeing a physical therapist to help address your pregnancy sciatica pain. Her advice includes "seeing a pelvic flood physical therapist to help assess what’s going on and offer suggestions for how to improve it."
4. Stay Hydrated
Dr. Fairchild explains that the nutrients you consume and the amount of water you consume can play a role in your pregnancy sciatica pain. "You also need to make sure you are staying well hydrated and eat plenty of protein. By not getting enough nutrients and water, this can lead to back pain and sciatica as well."
5. Yoga & Mindfulness
The benefits of practicing yoga during pregnancy are numerous. Mayo Clinic cited improved sleep, reduced stress, and decreased risk of preterm labor as some of the benefits to a prenatal yoga regimen, but Dr. Fairchild says it can also help relieve sciatica pain. "I always recommend prenatal yoga for stretching and mindfulness," she tells Romper.
"Prenatal massage is wonderful to easing pain, reduce swelling, and helps with relaxation," Dr. Fairchild says. Not only will a massage help relieve your pregnancy sciatica, it just feels good. And when you're growing an entire human baby in your womb, you absolutely deserve a nice massage.
The debate over whether ice or heat is best for pain relief is a long-standing one in the medical community, but Dr. Fairchild recommends women battling pregnancy sciatica turn to ice. "I like to recommend ice over heat due to the fact ice is helping with inflammation," she explains.
When treating your sciatica pain, Davidson says that "being aware of anything that seems to make it worse (or better) and altering behavior as possible" is the best route. So, if you find that Dr. Fairchild's suggestion of ice isn't doing the trick, Davidson says you can use heat in the form of a warm shower or "using a heating pad or warm rice sock for some relief."
While it might seem counterintuitive to try and touch your toes with your giant belly in the way, gentle stretches can help relieve the pain associated with pregnancy sciatica. "Stretch your hamstrings to help with not only sciatica, but help with swelling in the legs," Dr. Fairchild tells Romper.
10. Epsom Salt Baths
"Epsom salt baths are amazing to help with soothing muscles and helps with calming muscles and sleeping," Dr. Fairchild explains. She recommends that pregnant women with sciatica take one at night before bed to relax and relieve symptoms.
Dr. Brenda Fairchild, DC, CACCP, Pea and the Pod Chiropractic, author of Why Didn’t My Pediatrician Tell me That? and The Crunchy Mom’s Hands on Guide to Pregnancy
Megan Davidson, PhD, labor doula, childbirth educator, and chest/breastfeeding counselor of BrooklynDoula. Author of Your Birth Plan: A Guide to Navigating All of Your Choices in Childbirth