Your belly is growing. Your feet might be swelling. And suddenly, you start experiencing lower back pain. This may be due to a condition known as sciatica. Your sciatic nerve is sharing space with your growing baby. Symptoms include shooting pain, tingling, or numbness starting in the back or buttocks then radiating down the backs of your legs. Sciatica is most common in the third trimester of pregnancy, but can happen anytime.
What causes sciatica?
At different times throughout your pregnancy, your expanding uterus might put pressure on the sciatic nerve in the lower part of your spine. This causes lower back pain (which often travels throughout the body). It may feel as though you can’t move or walk because the pain is so bad. When the baby starts to shift into the proper birth position, in the third trimester, it can rest directly on the nerve causing a major pain in the buttocks, back and legs. Sciatica can be constant or come and go. It might go away after the pregnancy, but I do warn my patients it can also stick around for a little while after you’ve given birth.
How can you relieve symptoms?
- If you can, take a break. Getting off your feet can ease some of your leg and lower back pain during pregnancy. However, it can become difficult to get up once you are down. Be sure you have support nearby in case you need extra help getting to your feet again.
- Try a heating pad on the spot where you feel the pain.
- Try to avoid sitting on hard surfaces or standing in one place too long.
- Consider wearing a support belt, specifically made for pregnant women. Your local medical supply store should have these.
- To relieve the pressure on the nerve, do some pelvic tilts. Stretches or swimming can also take off some of the pressure.
- Wear flat supportive shoes. Heels cause you to develop poor posture, leading to more pain.
- Sleep with a pillow between your knees to keep your hips aligned at night.
Remember to check with your doctor before taking any pain medication and if symptoms become too severe ask for other options. Oftentimes, I suggest massage therapy as a nice pain relieving option for my patients. Hopefully, it will be a short lived problem that’s solved once you have your beautiful baby.