A woman holding her hand on her back due to pregnancy sciatica
Rostislav Sedlacek/Fotolia

How To Relieve Pregnancy Sciatica

by Mishal Ali Zafar

Sciatica sounds like the name of a futuristic science fiction movie, but it's actually one of the most annoying and painful things a person can deal with, especially if they are pregnant. Just getting in a comfortable position — to sit, stand, or sleep — can be difficult when pregnant, but sciatica can exacerbate that discomfort with excruciating pain that radiates down your legs and backside. If you are pregnant, and have been feeling that shooting pain in your lower back, you'll want to know how to relieve pregnancy sciatica.

What is sciatica anyway? According to the American Pregnancy Association, sciatica during pregnancy occurs when the sciatic nerve — the largest nerve in your body that provides sensory and motor functions to back of your thighs, legs, and feet — is put under pressure by your growing baby.

What to Expect explained that sciatica can cause a sharp, shooting, or tingling pain, which starts in the lower back or buttocks, and continues to radiate down the back of your legs. During pregnancy, weight gain and the retention of fluids, your expanding uterus, your shifting center of gravity and curvature of the spine, and positioning of the baby's head can all compress the sciatic nerve, causing it to pinch and tighten.

So how can you relieve pregnancy sciatica symptoms? OB-GYN Rebecca Starck, MD told Cleveland Clinic that there are a few things that can ease the discomfort of sciatica during pregnancy, which include using heat — either through a warm shower or heating pad — stretching or doing yoga, seeing a massage therapist or a physical therapist, or taking acetaminophen to relieve the pain. She noted that if your sciatica is caused by the pregnancy, it will likely go away once the baby comes.

Sciatica pain is usually felt on one side, so What To Expect suggested taking frequent rest breaks and when sleeping, lie on the side that is pain-free with a pillow between your legs to reduce pressure on the sciatic nerve. The website also advised swimming to reduce pressure or Kegel exercises to reduce the inflammation on the nerves.

The good news is that as long as your sciatica is caused by pregnancy symptoms, and not by a bulging, ruptured, or slipped disc, or arthritis, the pain is temporary. If you are experiencing sciatic pain, make sure to consult your physician, and ask about the treatment or therapy options that are best for you.