50% – 80% of women experience sciatica pain during their pregnancies.
Sciatica pain in pregnancy is so common. Sciatica pain can be caused by spinal and pelvic misalignment that creates an imbalance in the surrounding ligaments and muscles. Then inflammation of the nerve can cause the pregnant mother a great deal of sharp pain and/or numbness. The Sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. Sciatica pain starts in your lower back, extends down to your buttocks and from there branches out down the legs towards the feet. It can feel really painful or so numb as though you can’t put any weight on your leg. It’s REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE!
10 Ways to Relieve the Pain of Sciatica in Pregnancy or Any Time
1. Apply a hot compress to the spot where you are feeling the pain. Many of my students say the heat is very comfortable and definitely makes them feel better by relaxing the muscles. But because part of the issues around sciatica pain is inflammation, don’t forget to ice. See #2.
2. Alternate ice packs to the spot where the pain originates for 10 minutes at a time. Wait 10 minutes between heat and ice. almost every person I tell to ice their sciatica pain, is surprised. They all say the same thing. The heat makes it feel so much better. But the ice can too. No it’s not as comfortable at first to put an ice pack on painful spot, but it can make a huge difference in your pain levels, and your mobility, and your body’s ability to heal itself.
3. Take a warm bath in epsom salts. Use approximately 2lbs (Yes that’s right. It’s a lot) of epsom salts in the bath. Keep a big glass of cool water next to you. I know 2lbs of epsom salts seems like a lot but it really works! The magnesium sulfate in the water will relax your muscles and reduce the pain you’re experiencing from the sciatic nerve.
4. Do Pelvic tilts/rocking every day. It can prevent sciatic nerve inflammation and will strengthen your muscles. You can do them on your hands and knees or do pelvic rocks on your forearms. Here’s how to do pelvic rocks or you can learn how in my free 25 minute prenatal yoga video, below:
- Start on your hands and knees or on your knees and forearms, place your hands (or elbows if on forearms) directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips or some people prefer knees a little wider than hips.
- Breathe in deeply. Keep your head and your upper back stationary, tilt your tailbone up, then tuck it under. I joke in my classes that it is very similar to twerking in slow motion. Only the lower back moves as the tailbone tilts up then tucks under.
- Continue to breathe in and out slowly . Repeat this for a count of 25-50.
5. Acupuncture and prenatal massage can do wonders for relieving sciatica and back pain.
6. Chiropractic adjustments from a chiropractor experienced with pregnant patients. Correct pelvic alignment and uterus positioning is crucial for the healthy development of your baby’s spine and nervous system and assists in delivery by helping the baby move into the right birthing position. Find a chiropractor
7. Sleeping in the right position can make a huge difference. Sleeping on your side, on your hip can just aggravate the sciatic nerve. Many moms-to-be complain that they wake up in the middle of the night with extreme hip pain. Here is how to get into the ideal rest and sleep position in pregnancy. As much as you’re able to rest on your left side, that is the best side for circulation. Though you are not limited to only the left side, I will describe how to get into the side relax sleep position.
- Start with two pillows. One goes under your head to begin.
- Lie on your left side
- Place your left arm BEHIND your back or along side your back with your palm up
- Rest your head on the pillow
- Place the 2nd pillow under your top (right) knee. Do not put it between your legs.
- Roll forward as though you are trying to roll onto your tummy.
- Place your right arm wherever it’s comfortable.
- Look at the final relaxation in the video below to see how it looks. No body part should be touching any other body part.
8. Avoid standing for prolonged periods of time and if you find that standing is unavoidable prop up or rest one leg up at a time.
9. Practice this Free 25 minute Prenatal Yoga class:
10. Arnica cream can help relieve sciatica pain. It is a homeopathic remedy that increases circulation and reduces inflammation.
The sciatic nerve also becomes inflamed in pregnancy, and swelling, as a result of water retention, further exacerbates this painful situation. According to What to Expect, sciatica shows up most often in the third trimester, when you’re at your heaviest and most miserable. Most women experience sciatica pains on one side only, but a lucky few might find both legs affected. With sciatica you may have pain in your buttocks and hip that travels to your thigh. It can be a deep, dull pain or a shooting, sharp pain. Sciatic pain can range from mild to severe. It often goes away with treatment or at the end of the pregnancy.