Many pregnant women experience pain in the lower back that follows that path of the sciatic nerve, running into the leg and through the foot. When the nerve becomes inflamed, usually due to increased pressure somewhere along the course of the nerve, it causes discomfort for mom-to-be. Persistent pressure can also result in numbness, tingling, and weakness in the leg, similar to the feeling of pins and needles you get when your leg falls asleep.
A common misconception is that the weight of the baby on the nerve causes the pain, but it is more likely that the changes to the whole body to blame. Hormonal changes loosen the joints to help the body prepare for childbirth and create a shift in the pelvis and spine that may affect the sciatic nerve. The increased weight and strain on the body also makes it more difficult to maintain good posture to hold the spine in a good position, and tightness in the hips and low back can also be a factor. The actual source of the pain down the leg may also be in the back itself, such as from a bulging disc, and not due to injury or compression at the actual sciatic nerve.
To relieve the stress, be aware of your:
This gets harder to do as your body changes, but try to keep your bottom tucked in and your shoulders back. Pregnant women tend to arch their back and slump shoulders as their belly grows, putting more strain on the spine.
Physical therapy can be helpful to anyone suffering from sciatica, especially women during pregnancy. We can provide techniques to help better align your pelvis and spine, and provide stretching for the back and hips. We will also teach you gentle exercises to strengthen muscles to help you hold better posture. Sometimes a maternity support brace is ordered to help support the belly and back, especially when standing and walking.