Experiencing back pain during your pregnancy journey might not be what you had in mind when you found out you were expecting as a first time Mum but unfortunately, this condition is common especially in the third trimester.  Most Mums-to-be experience a dull, throbbing ache right in the middle or lower back and in their bottom. Opting for regular Prenatal Massages can alleviate this pain and help you relax.

What causes Back pain in Pregnancy?

Posture changes

Reduced function of the abdominal muscles and anterior rotation of the pelvis

Tired muscles can makes these issues even worse but some women can end up with Sciatica during pregnancy, a very painful condition but thankfully it’s temporary.

What is Sciatica?

Unlike normal back pain during pregnancy, sciatica is a sharp, shooting pain, tingling, numbness that starts in the back or the glutes and shoots all the way down the back of the legs.  The Sciatic Nerve is the longest nerve within the body which is located in the lower back and runs down the glutes and branches down the back of your legs all the way down to your ankles and feet.  Sciatica pain occurs when the nerve gets compressed by bulging, slipped or ruptured discs narrowing of the spinal cord, or arthritis.  It’s rare that women experience sciatica as a short term side effect in pregnancy.

What causes pregnancy Sciatica?

Weight gain and fluid retention – It can put pressure on the sciatic nerve when it passes through the pelvis compressing it.

A Growing Uterus – It can press down on the sciatic nerve in the lower part of the spine

Your growing tummy and breasts – This can shift your centre of gravity forward.  Your growing tummy and breasts can stretch the Lordotic Curve (which is located above the glutes) this can cause the muscles in your bottom and pelvic area to tighten up and pinch the sciatic nerve.

The Baby’s head – It can rest directly on the nerve.  When the baby starts to sink into the proper birth position in the third trimester

A slipped or herniated disk – This is caused by extra pressure on your growing uterus.

Sciatica mostly occurs in the 3rd trimester, when you and your baby are growing bigger.  It can develop earlier, but it’s really not that common.  Most women experience pain on one side though you can feel it in both legs and the pain can be constant or intermittent depending on the pressure placed on the nerve.  The pain may get worse as you get heavier and retain more fluid . Sciatica pain can remain for a few months after giving birth until you lose the extra weight and fluid that was pressing on the nerve.

Pregnancy Sciatica Tips

Rest – Put your feet up and have a nice cup of herbal tea. Resting in comfortable position can easy leg and lower back problems.

Sleeping position – Sleep on the side that is pain free.  Opt for a pregnancy pillow or you can use a normal pillow and place it in between your legs to help raise the pelvis so it’s in alignment so it takes pressure off the nerve.

Walking – Take frequent walking breaks and alternate them find different routes to break up the day or you could try a Pilates/Birthing Ball as it provides a lot of comfort and relieves back pain and decrease the pressure in the pelvis, lower back and spine.

Pelvic Exercises – Pelvic floor exercises or Kegels are great for strengthening your pelvic floor. It is best to start off to do several sets a few times a day as it helps with strengthening the bladder, lowers the risk of incontinence, experience a faster labour and more enjoyable sex. It can reduce swelling and soreness too.  Pelvic floor exercises are quick, simple and can be done anytime anywhere just make sure you are comfortable.

Gentle Exercise

Engaging in gentle exercises can strengthen the abdominals and back muscles and reduce the risk of further pregnancy related back pain.  Walking, stationary cycling, swimming, pregnancy yoga are all great options.

Pregnancy Massage

Receiving regular monthly prenatal massage treatment is a great way to relieve tension, inflammation and discomfort around the sciatic nerve and help you relax and feel rejuvenated.

Self-Massage

Using a tennis ball between salon visits can help relieve pain too in the early stages of pregnancy.  Just lie on the floor and place the tennis ball under the lower part of the back, and then gently roll it around.  If you’re in your third trimester it’s best to lean back against a wall or chair and place the ball between your back and wall/chair.

If the pain is really severe, contact your GP.

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