The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve that runs from your lower back down through your buttocks and into the back of your thighs, calves, and foot. During pregnancy, pain in the sciatic nerve is felt because your belly grows bigger. Let’s look at the exact causes, the symptoms and the treatment methods.
Sciatica during pregnancy: Symptoms
Sciatica refers to pain felt in the sciatic nerve – the numbing pain that runs down the whole sciatic nerve and which affect your buttocks, the back side of your thighs and calves. Sciatica, to set the record straight, isn’t the name of an illness but the name of a symptom. The so-called back pain felt during pregnancy is often dismissed as just lower back pain. However, even though lower back pain is a regular feature of pregnancy, sciatica can cause you to feel more pain.
Sciatica can give you problems even throughout the course of pregnancy – the pain might hinder your everyday activities. If you have sciatica and you go into labor, the pain might rob you of your ability to push hard enough to have a vaginal birth, and if you’re unable to do so, your baby will be delivered by cesarean section (C-section).
The pain from sciatica can become the root of pregnancy blues, so try to categorize the pain you feel as physical, and try not to let it affect your mental health.
Causes of sciatica during pregnancy
When the sciatic nerve that runs from your buttocks to your toes is pressed, you might feel pain shooting down all the way your legs. Sciatica during pregnancy is caused by the widening of your pelvis and the pubic bone.
Also, the weight of the baby, the changes in your own weight and the change in your center of gravity can cause the position of your muscles and bones to change, resulting in the compression of the sciatic nerve. When your belly gets bigger in the second and third trimesters, your baby will grow bigger and this causes sciatica to worsen.
Sciatica during pregnancy: Treatment and prevention tips
Keep your body warm and take things easy
The physical changes in your body during pregnancy can throw you off guard, not to mention the mental stress you have to face. You might need to rally your family together and get them to help you go about your daily activities. Keep your bottom half of your body warm, have footbaths, soak yourself in a tub of warm water, and keep yourself warm all the time.
Using a pregnancy belt can reduce the strain on your back during pregnancy. Even if you have no lower back pains or any pain resembling sciatica, it’s recommended that you start using the belt as a precautionary measure.
Stimulating the pressure points
It’s said that acupressure or acupuncture has the effect of relieving pain caused by sciatica. The acupressure point on the back of the knee – the Weizhong or the Middle of the crook, the acupressure point on the calf – the Yinmen or Gate of Abundance, and the acupressure point on your back – the Dachangshu, are the points that acupressure therapists press down on to help relieve sciatica nerve pain.
Effective stretches for sciatica during pregnancy
When you’re aching because of sciatica, you strain your back muscles to help ease the pain, but this could cause your back muscles to tighten. Relax them by doing light stretches. The usually recommended methods to relieve sciatica aren’t recommended for pregnant women as they put pressure on your back. Don’t do any stretches when the pain is severe, too.
Recommended stretches for sciatica during pregnancy
Sit on the floor and spread your legs open in a “V” shape. Start with one leg and bend it in until the base of your foot touches your knee of the other outstretched foot. Stretch your hand toward the foot of the outstretched foot slowly until you feel your ligaments being stretched and maintain that position for about 30 seconds. Continue to breathe in even when you’re in that outstretched position. Change positions and repeat the same exercise.
The pull in your thighs and calves is evidence that you’re doing the stretches right. If you don’t feel well, stop immediately. Make sure you don’t put pressure on your belly and rest if you feel contractions or tightness in your belly.
Sleeping positions suitable to fight sciatica during pregnancy
The cause of sciatica is that the bones surrounding the back and the muscles of buttocks are compressed. So, when you sleep, it’s recommended that you take the strain off your back and buttocks. In other words, sleep on your side in a curled-up position. If there is pain or cramps in your buttocks, avoid a sleeping position that rests your body weight on them. If you’re hurting everywhere, hug a bolster and let your body weight be spread out as evenly as possible.
Don’t grin and bear it, sciatica can become a chronic problem
Sitting or being in the same position can cause your muscles and the pelvis to be inflexible, and these aftereffects can remain after the birth if you don’t nip the problem in the bud. It can become a chronic problem – so if you’re in acute pain, don’t bear with it and go to the hospital.