As if there weren't enough inconvenient and uncomfortable symptoms during pregnancy, there's the whole unpredictable aspect you can add to the list. When you feel a random twinge in the middle of the night, is it simply because of the way you were sleeping or is it something more serious, like sciatica? But what are the signs of sciatica in pregnancy anyways? To start, if you're not familiar with the term, sciatica is, "pain that you feel in your back and maybe even down the back of your leg," as registered nurse Jennifer L. W. Fink told The Bump. Basically, it's a fancy way of saying that you're experiencing incredibly painful sensations in your lower back, buttocks, or legs.
If you're anything like I was during my pregnancy, you probably want to know exactly how to tell the difference between everyday discomfort and legitimate sciatica. According to the official website for the American Pregnancy Association (APA), one of the telltale signs of sciatica is that it can begin as an intense pressure right behind your uterus. This is because, "an increase in pregnancy hormones like relaxin can cause your ligaments to loosen in your pelvic area," as Healthline noted. Without that strength, your growing baby can put quite a strain on the surrounding muscles and nerves.
As my OB-GYN told me while I was pregnant, your body has limited space and all that pressure has to go somewhere. In other words, your body is like a subway car that typically carries just a few passengers and being pregnant is like rush hour for commuters — everything gets squished. With such a tight fit, it's no wonder that you can experience such a significant amount of discomfort throughout your torso and lower extremities while you're pregnant.
Another way to determine if what you're feeling is actually sciatica or just a random ache is that, with a sciatic nerve issue, you will feel pain shoot down one side of your body, as What To Expect reported. For a relatively quick fix for the situation, it can be as simple as adjusting your position.
As it turns out, though, sciatica doesn't always feel the same way for everybody. According to the medical experts at Baby Center, "you may also feel tingling or pins and needles in your leg or foot." Registered nurse Amy Bunton tells Romper, "signs of sciatica during pregnancy vary because pressure on the sciatic nerve can result in anything from numbness and burning to sharp pains and throbbing aches." Still, no matter how it manifests, sciatica during pregnancy seems to only occur in the lower extremities and back.
As your baby continues to grow, the likelihood that you will experience sciatica increases. In fact, many of my friends didn't even experience a twinge of lower back pain until right at the very end of their pregnancy. I used to think that the fact my son was head down meant there was more pressure being placed on my pelvic floor. However, it seems that it is the size, not the position, of your baby that affects lower back pain during pregnancy, as Healthline further noted. So, pressure, pain, or numbness ranging anywhere from your lower back to your legs (and even your feet) are the most common signs of sciatica in pregnancy. It's helpful to remember, though, if you're ever concerned about what you're experiencing, don't hesitate to reach out to a medical professional for help. Definitely talk to your doctor if you experiencing pain or discomfort, and explore the option of meeting with a physical therapist to see if you could get some tips on how to maneuver through the most mundane tasks of everyday life, like getting out of bed, without adding additional stress to your body.
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