The joys of pregnancy can be plentiful, but so can um, well, the not so joyous parts. One that many women experience is severe nerve pain felt throughout your legs, known as sciatica.
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body, running under your uterus and down your legs. Sciatic pain occurs as your developing baby puts pressure on the sciatic nerve. Other causes include muscle tension, sacroiliac joint dysfunction (often caused by an increase in pregnancy hormones, like relaxin) and the less-common herniated disc.
There are many natural remedies an expectant mother experiencing sciatica can do to lessen the pain:
- Lie on your side, on the opposite side of the pain.
- Don’t stand for lengthy periods of time.
- Avoid lifting anything heavy.
Other solutions for relief include swimming, applying heat/cold packs to the area and elevating one foot.
Stretches, however, are one of best ways to ease sciatic pain while pregnant. No drugs are involved, and it’s a completely natural solution you can do almost anywhere when your sciatic pain hits. Here are a few stretches for sciatic pain relief:
- Seated Piriformis Stretch – sit on a chair, putting one ankle on the opposite knee and lean forward to feel a stretch throughout your backside.
- Table Stretch – lean forward with your hands on a table, pulling your hips away to feel the stretch all along your back.
- Hip Flexor Stretch – kneel on floor; step one foot in front and shift your weight forward to feel the stretch in your back hip.
Yoga poses help to stretch out your backside and legs. The Pigeon Pose is a great stretch that requires a yoga block or rolled towel. Additional poses to help relieve sciatic pain are recommended by Yoga International: Simple Seated Twist, Standing Twist, King Pigeon Hip Stretch and Standing Hamstring Stretches. Most of these stretches can be done using a floor mat, table or chair.
Be careful if you elect to do yoga poses while pregnant, as doing too much or performing the wrong ones are not recommended. Avoid poses that involve extreme backbends, deep twists, inversions and lying on your back—to keep you and your baby safe. Take a prenatal yoga class to learn the correct yoga poses and stretches to take you through any sciatic pain during your pregnancy!