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Relieving Pressure and Pain of Pregnancy Sciatica

By HERWriter
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relieve the pressure and pain caused by pregnancy sciatica iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Our dear sweet neighbor, Karin, is expecting her second child in two weeks. However, the last few weeks have been absolutely grueling for her poor body.

Karin is an athletic Californian. She hikes and climbs and her athletic ability puts everyone to shame. Even so, for more than three weeks Karin has been experiencing sciatica pain related to her pregnancy.

The Whattoexpect.com website defined sciatica pregnancy pain as “shooting pain, tingling, or numbness that starts in the back or buttocks and radiates down the backs of your legs.”

According to the American Pregnancy Association, “the sciatic nerve runs under your uterus to your legs. The cause of sciatic nerve pain is thought to be associated with pressure on the nerve caused by the developing baby.”

The Whattoexpect.com website stated, “sciatica is most common in the third trimester of pregnancy.”

The website also said that “at various times throughout your pregnancy, your expanding uterus might put pressure on the sciatic nerve in the lower part of your spine, which causes lower back pain during pregnancy (which often travels throughout the body). 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 butt (and back, and legs).”

The baby’s movement causes sciatica paint to be intermittent or constant.

Here are some tips from the Whattoexpect.com and the American Pregnancy Association, if you are experiencing sciatica pain during your pregnancy:

• If you can, take a break. Getting off your feet can ease some of your leg and lower back pain during pregnancy.

• The simplest remedy is to lie on your side, opposite of the pain. This may help relieve the pressure on the nerve.

• Avoid heavy lifting and minimize standing for long periods of time.

• If you experience pressure while standing, try elevating one foot and resting it on something. Swimming may also ease discomfort.

• You may experience relief by applying heat or cold to the troubled area. Try a heating pad on the spot where you feel the pain, or take a warm bath.

• Discuss with your health care provider the possibility of taking acetaminophen to relieve the pain.

• To relieve the pressure on the nerve, do some pelvic tilts. Stretches or swimming can also take off some of the pressure.

• Complementary and alternative therapy during pregnancy, such as acupuncture or therapeutic prenatal massage (always with a trained and licensed practitioner) might help.

• If your pain is constant and increases in severity and frequency, contact your doctor immediately.


Pregnancy and Sciatic Nerve Pain: American Pregnancy Association. Promoting Pregnancy Wellness: American Pregnancy Association. Retrieved July 28, 2012, from

Sciatica Pain. (What to Expect When You are Expecting. Retrieved July 28, 2012, from

Reviewed July 30, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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