Sciatica during Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms, Stretches

sciatica and pregnancy

Often associated with back pain, sciatica is a common affection that targets four out of 10 individuals. The back pain is even more common during pregnancy due to the extra weight you need to carry around – especially since it is not evenly balanced, as it goes in front of the body.

On a different note, sciatica is popular and mild, but it can also turn into one of the most severe back pains. The two – sciatica and pregnancy – often go hand in hand. Luckily, there are ways to overcome the potential issues.

Understanding the sciatic pain

The sciatic pain is normally caused by some irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. The nerve starts around the spinal cord – the lower back – and travels through the buttocks and legs. This is the longest nerve in your body and can be altered by temperature, pressure and discomfort.

While pregnant, the baby grows inside the front part of the body. The uterus will naturally expand and this is what causes the pressure on the sciatic nerve, leading to irritation and inflammation. Pain is then only a step away.

As a pregnant woman, you know you have sciatica if you suffer from back pain that goes down a leg or both legs. The affection is less likely to occur in the early stages of the pregnancy, but later on, as the baby grows in size.

Obviously, there are more reasons wherefore sciatica may kick in. For example, a slipped disc is just as common, not to mention the piriformis muscle in your buttocks, which could experience spasms. Such problems can also be caused by a pregnancy.

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Signs associated with the sciatic pain

The pain that radiates across the lower part of your body is the main sign of the sciatic nerve pain. However, there are more signs to consider too, such as leg pain. Sometimes, this pain can affect both legs, but such cases are rare.

Then, the bladder control may also be affected when suffering from sciatica, not to mention tingling sensations, needles and numbness – usually in the legs. The lower parts of the body will also experience burning feelings. Furthermore, the pain can aggravate if you sneeze, move or cough.

Experiencing such issues will always imply a medical consultation. After all, sciatica and pregnancy may not always be related. The doctor will give you some tips on how to overcome the pain and perhaps recommend a particular medication that will not hurt the baby.

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Pregnancy sciatica stretches

The good news is that sciatica and pregnancy can be kept under control. Normally, the affection will go away once the cause is removed – basically, after you give birth. But meanwhile, there are some stretches and exercises that will make your life easier.

Light stretching exercises for the back represent an excellent method to relieve sciatic pain. If your pregnancy is in a late-stage, avoid stretches that imply lying on the back because the uterus will rest over a big vein that controls the heart. In other words, you may feel weak if you do it.

1. Seated piriformis stretch

A seated piriformis stretch is excellent then.

  • Sit down in a chair and make sure your feet are on the ground – flat.
  • Lift the right leg and place its ankle over your right knee.
  • Without arching your back, move slowly forward.
  • You will feel a slight stretch in the glutes, but also the lower back. Hold it for half a minute.
  • Go back to the original position, then put the foot down.
  • Perform the same stretch with the other leg. You can do five stretches for each leg and perform a few sets a day or whenever you experience some discomfort.

2. Child’s pose

The child’s pose is another great exercise for sciatica and pregnancy and you can do it at home. It is basically a yoga pose and it restores your energy and rests your body. It will also stretch your back and ameliorate the painful sensations.

  • Find a soft surface, such as a fluffy carpet or perhaps a mattress.
  • Kneel on it and touch the big toes together.
  • Make sure you spread your knees – you want to make some room for the belly.
  • While keeping the back straight, touch the floor with your forehead.
  • Make sure you are well balanced and reach the arms out straight.
  • They should go past your head. Inhale gradually at the same time, as you perform the movement.
  • Sit back on the legs and slowly move the buttocks towards the heels as you exhale.
childs pose

3. Standing hamstring stretch

The standing hamstring stretch is another great exercise for sciatica and pregnancy and one of the most common recommendations from doctors. It will help you stay flexible and support the muscle around the sciatic nerve – less pain and inflammation.

  • You will need to stand for this exercise – both feet on the ground.
  • Raise the right leg and place it on something else – a small chair or perhaps a footstool.
  • The leg must be straight. Bend over until you experience a moderate stretch in your hamstring.
  • The stretch should not be too mild, but it should not be painful either, so stick to a comfortable, yet difficult position.
  • Hold it for about half a minute, then bring the leg back.
  • Perform the same stretch with the other leg. Do a few such stretches a day and your pain will drastically lose in intensity.
Standing Hamstring Stretch


Bottom line, sciatica and pregnancy can be quite problematic because your pregnancy can affect the sciatic nerve and keep you in pain for months. The good news is sciatica will become history as soon as you give birth. Meanwhile, dealing with the pain is a completely different story.

Slight massages and exercises are suitable to relieve the pain without endangering yourself or the baby. Avoid random exercises – if you are not sure about one thing or another, simply get in touch with your specialist doctor and discuss the situation. A doctor can determine how severe the affection is and what you can do to keep it under control.

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