While the birth of your child is an exciting time, the changes coursing through your body aren’t always welcome. Pain from sciatica is a frequent issue for pregnant women. You may experience lower back pain and symptoms anywhere along the length of your sciatic nerve.
Because you’re carrying a child, your options for medicinal pain relief are few. The good news is that your condition is most likely temporary, ending at or near childbirth.
There are also pregnancy-friendly hacks to manage sciatica pain on your own. It helps to understand why you experience symptoms and what you can do to limit their effects.
Rather than a specific injury, sciatica describes the collection of symptoms resulting from compression of the sciatic nerve. How and where this compression occurs varies between patients.
Part of the issue is how your body’s center of gravity shifts to accommodate the weight of your growing baby. That increases forward pressure on your spine, changing the shape of the lumbar curve in the lower back.
This increased curvature can restrict the spaces through which nerves can move. Should a nerve passageway become too small, compression results. The unbalanced load can also invite disc herniation, where deformation of a spinal disc is the action that compresses the sciatic nerve.
Hormonal changes in your body also change the consistency of tissue like ligaments so that they stretch more easily to make room for your growing child and, eventually, delivery. That increased stretchiness comes at the cost of support for the spine.
Perhaps the most recognizable pregnancy pain hack is the classic hand on the lower hip and back that many pregnant women adopt to cope with the changed center of gravity. Here are some additional obvious and not-so-obvious hacks that you can try.
Whether it’s a warm bath, heating pads, or warm compresses, heat can help reduce tension in overworked lower back muscles.
If you have a sudden sciatic flare-up, cold compresses or ice packs on your lower back may provide more relief in the first 24 hours by helping to reduce inflammation. Stick with 15-minute icing sessions.
While resting is tempting (and also important!), staying mobile helps your body to work its own pain-relief magic in the form of an active blood supply. Gentle activity keeps circulation happening, and you can stimulate it with easy walks and gentle yoga stretches.
Ask us about stretches targeted to relieve sciatic nerve compression. Time in a swimming pool may feel like heaven with its load support.
Sitting or lying down with your feet up is another way to stimulate circulation, particularly since blood returning to the heart travels against gravity. With your legs elevated, some of the load is eased. Note that conventional good seated posture can add strain to your lumbar spine.
It’s important to listen to your body. Don’t move to the point of increased pain, and don’t rest at the expense of gentle movement that tires you but doesn’t otherwise hurt.
When you can’t find enough relief through your own home care, call or click to make an appointment with Metro Anesthesia & Pain Management in West Des Moines and East Des Moines, Iowa. We’re ready to help you cope with sciatica symptoms. Book your visit today.