Sciatic pain—or sciatica, as it is sometimes called—is probably one of the most painful conditions associated with pregnancy. Your sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in your body. It passes from your pelvis on either side and down the back of your thigh, where it divides into smaller nerves. You can pinch and injure the nerve in many ways; during pregnancy, however, compression of the nerve from the baby’s position is the most likely cause of sciatic pain. You are probably feeling the pain on the side where the compression is.
Although you can’t prevent sciatic pain, you may notice that certain positions and activities will either aggravate it or make it better. Sciatica can be completely debilitating when it flares up. Warm or cold packs, physical therapy exercises, pillows under your hip, and lying with your hips elevated may all help to relieve the discomfort, though none of these is a sure bet. Sciatica usually does not last throughout the entire pregnancy; it often disappears completely when the baby changes position. If this doesn’t happen, your sciatic pain should resolve completely when the baby is born.
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Ask Tori RN®, by registered nurse and resident author of The Joy of Pregnancy, is a helpful and reassuring resource for parents-to-be.
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