Kicks and Cankles: Fighting Pregnancy Sciatica
Although pregnancy is a beautiful privilege, it definitely has the tendency to make you feel pretty crummy. I truly think that it is easier to not focus on how terrible you may feel, but you also have to acknowledge it and find a way to cope and help yourself! Unfortunately, most stubborn pregnancy symptoms can't be completely treated and done away with, especially the dreaded sciatic pain. So how on earth do you function with it?!
With my first pregnancy, I started having sciatic pain at the beginning of my second trimester. I was also teaching dance and very heavily involved in fitness classes at the time, so I was warming up my body and stretching multiple times a day. Some days, I felt like being that active helped me, and other days I felt like my body was just too overworked. I really didn't do a whole ton of other research or try many things to help myself feel better. I basically resorted to crying while my husband tickled my back to help me relax. Not fun for either of us, bless his patient and loving heart!
I am currently 28 weeks pregnant with my second. The sciatic pain started to creep in about 4 weeks ago. Obviously, I was hoping it wouldn't happen this time around but wasn't surprised when it did. I guess my babes just like to sit right on my nerve! This time, I am determined to handle it a little better so I have been doing my research and my trials.
What is Sciatic Pain?
Your sciatic nerves start in your low back, go down through your buttocks/hip area and all the way down each leg. These nerves are large, so naturally, there can be a very serious amount of pain when they are bothered. When you are pregnant, if the extra pressure from your growing uterus and baby is in the right spot, you will feel those nerves letting you know they are being smashed. It can feel something like a quick shock of pain, to a lingering panging ache. I often feel the pain most when I have been sitting, or have just stood up from a sitting position, but for everyone it can be so different.
Easing the Pain
Unfortunately, there isn't a one-size-fits-all fix for sciatic pain. The simple answer is that when the pressure stops being on the nerve, the pain goes away. Too bad you can't get in there to reposition the weight of your growing body buddy, right?! Since you obviously can't just go grabbing for the pain medication bottles, here is a list of things that just might help you feel a bit better.
Belly Band: Adding a bit of support under your stomach with a belly band could help simply by holding just a bit of the weight that is pushing down on your body. I haven't personally tried this, but have a cousin that wears her band daily to help with her nerve and musculoskeletal pain. She has told me that without her band, even standing up at all is painful, and with the band, she can make it through the day. Pretty great testimonial if you ask me!
Laying down: This may seem like a no-brainer, but I am talking to moms here! Sometimes there is so much that needs to, or can be done, that we don't take the time to sit and let our bodies rest. I am not one to "play the pregnancy card" and be lazy just because I am pregnant, buuut building a human inside of your body really is quite taxing. Your body does need to take it easy more often than when you aren't growing a human! Getting off your feet takes some of that weight and pressure off of your nerve. Try lying with the side that doesn't hurt down. Maybe your baby will take the hint and move over too!
Heat or cold: This is a completely personal preference, and I have honestly used both. For reasons completely beyond me, some days a heating pad provides the best relief for me, and other days, I reach for the ice pack. Obviously, this is a topical fix, and really just helps to numb the pain. Do this while lying down to really up your feel-good moment!
Stretch: Taking time to stretch your body can do wonders! A good stretching session allows your body and muscles to relax and release some of the tension being carried. Spend 15 minutes a day stretching; just stretch your whole body! Not sure how to do this or where to start? You can find great stretching videos on YouTube and Pinterest, just do a little general search! A good low impact yoga class can help you achieve the same benefits too.
I do yoga once a week in the comfort of my living room and am 100% positive it has helped me combat a lot of this sciatic pain! Ask your doctor first: Other proposed helps are acetaminophen (Tylenol) and seeing a chiropractor. My doctor told me I could try the Tylenol route, but to try to use it sparingly. I tried it once, but didn't see a difference so I just don't use it. I have not asked about chiropractic help simply because I have never seen a chiropractor. If that is something you are interested in and have cleared it with your doctor, maybe it will help you out!