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What is Sciatica and How Do I Deal with it?

The sciatic nerve is the largest in the body, running all the way from the lower back to the feet. When this nerve gets pinched, it can cause sciatic nerve pain. The nerve can be pinched by slipping discs or arthritis, but also happens often during pregnancy. Your body is enduring a lot of changes during pregnancy, and symptoms such as weight gain, expanding of the uterus, and a forward shift in your center of gravity can all put pressure on the sciatic nerve. Most women will experience sciatica during the third trimester when the baby shifts in to proper birth position. Oftentimes the baby’s head can rest directly on the nerve. However, sciatica can occur earlier during the pregnancy as well.

The mothers-to-be of Cheyenne are not immune to sciatica and will feel pain, usually on one side, in the form of sharp, shooting pain or tingling beginning in the lower back and reaching all the way down the backs of the legs. Fortunately, there are ways to help relieve sciatic pain.

  1. Gain Weight Slowly: A quick increase in weight can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. You will generally want to gain about 3-4 pounds during the first trimester, no more than 14 pounds in the second, and another 10 pounds in the third. Overall, this should be about a 25-35 pound increase.
  2. Prenatal Massage: See a massage therapist who specializes in prenatal massage. Your masseuse will probably focus on your hips and lower back, using deep tissue massage to help relieve some of the tension surrounding your sciatic nerve.
  3. Sleep Differently: Adjust the way you sleep to release some of the pressure on your nerves. Use a firm mattress to increase back support and sleep with the affected side up. Place a pillow between your knees. This will help to keep your pelvis better aligned.
  4. Go Swimming: The buoyancy of water can take off some pressure. It will temporarily relieve some of that pregnancy weight, and in turn, some of the sciatica.
  5. See a Qualified Chiropractor Trained in Pregnancy Care: During pregnancy, your posture alters to adjust to all the changes your body is experiencing. A chiropractor that has been trained in pregnancy care can realign your vertebrae and take off some of the pressure on the sciatic nerve. Chiropractic care can be very effective in reducing sciatica.

There are many other methods to help relieve pain from sciatica during pregnancy, you just have to find what works for you! Ask your Cheyenne OBGYN provider what they recommend. Don’t worry, it is temporary and there is an end in sight!

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