As if pregnancy alone wasn’t enough there are all different kinds of pains and aches that come with it. I still remember the morning I woke up in agony during my second trimester. I felt like my leg had been locked into one position and when I started to move it a sharp pain radiated from my hip to my brain, that is the sharpest pain that I can remember to date. It is like a toothache that has been intensified a thousand times over. I tried to step out of bed but my legs couldn’t hold me so I crumbled back down. Like many other times I encounted anything new during my pregnancy, I reached over and grabbed my magic box and started googling; sciatic nerve pain the results suggested after typing in my symptoms.
What is sciatic nerve and what does it have to do with pregnancy?
according to spine-health, “The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the human body; it runs from each side of the lower spine through deep in the buttock into the back of the thigh and all the way down to the foot. It serves a vital role in connecting the spinal cord with the leg and foot muscles.” And as we know during pregnancy the joint ligament of a woman loosens due to a hormone known as relaxin. At the same time a woman’s pelvic bones are widening. So sometimes a combination of all these changes happening can result in the sciatic nerve being moved and therefore caught between the bones during certain movements, that is how my pain was explained to me by my chiropractor. The next morning I rushed to the Emergency room in pain and the ED doctor told me the only way to ease the pain was with anti inflammatory and steroids which of course I could not take due to the fact the I was pregnant. I was sent home with nothing more than a “sorry there is nothing we can do about it”.
I was barely starting my second trimester so I had so many worries added to my already exploding mind. To get through the rest of pregnancy I used a combination of the following methods to ease my pain.
1. Time adjust shoe styles
We all want to look like those beautiful pregnant women we see in magazines with their stilettos and and wedges on looking fabulous, but the truth is when you are pregnant, the balance in your hips and back shifts. It is very important to opt for styles that are more accommodating and able to relieve the pressure and weight of the back and hips. If you do want to wear high heels, I find it that it helps if you can keep off your feet as much as possible and only wear them for a short period of time. the is recommended choice is to stay as flat as possible, and if you must go for heels try the ones that are lower and the wedges offer more support for the whole foot.
2. Cold packs were my friend.
I used to think that heat packs work better on such pains but one advice that my chiropractor gave me is to make sure to use cold packs. Because as he explained, the strain on the nerve can sometimes make it a little swollen so making sure to use the cold pack on the area (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off and repeat for about 3 time each).
3. Regular sciatic pain relieving exercise
I looked around for various stretching exercise that may be able to relieve the pain and I found a couple of routines here and here that helped me a lot. I always liked the fetal position like the one similar in yoga, and trying the go on all fours and rock my hips back and forth and side to side helped a lot.
4. Avoid staying on your feet for longer periods of time.
This is the hardest part especially for people whose work require them to be on their feet. I had a hard time breaking up every few minutes of finding time to sit. The trick that helped me however is to keep your legs moving even if you are still standing, I would walk in position or kick my legs back and forth just to make sure that the blood keeps circulating and the leg sockets don’t lock in position believe me when I tell you that the pain is over a 10 when that happens.
5. Consult a chiropractor.
Another thing that helped me throughout my pregnancy is weekly visits to a chiropractor. Not all chiropractors work with pregnant women because of complications and limitations to what can be done but if you can find one and afford to go as many times as possible it helps a lot. When I actually started my legs were already at different length due to the pain even though it wasn’t physically noticeable. Unbeknownst to me I had started to walk with a little limp and was putting more pressure on one legs than the other. With the help of a chiropractor though my legs aligned again within a few sessions and he also helped me align my spine as my pregnancy advances.
6. Invest in a pregnancy pillow.
I know this is a no brainer but I found that sleeping with a pillow between my legs helped a lot. Since during pregnancy you are limited to sleeping on the side, every movement you make during the night can affect the position of your hips, putting a pillow between the legs helps align the hip bones and limits the shifts throughout the night. I got the U shaped pillow similar to this one which also supported my back and kept my spine in position which made a huge difference. But I also heard some moms recommend the C shaped like this one or this one, they both did a similar job.
7.Use of pregnancy safe pain relievers.
In situations where the pain is unbearable it is advisable to use recommended over the counter pain relievers.
8.Elevate your feet as much as you can.
Elevating your feet off the floor has many benefits while pregnant but it is also a great way to relieve sciatic nerve pain, by making sure that your feet get enough rest and that you growing weight isn’t always pressing on your bones helps the body adjust and recuperate.
And lastly do not lose hope I will soon pass and I assure you all the pain will be forgotten in an instant.