Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the body changes to make room for the growing baby and prepare for delivery. Some of these changes can be more then a bit uncomfortable for some. Low back and pelvic pain are common complaints from pregnant people. Much of this discomfort comes from muscles around the low back and the pelvis working harder to stabilize a growing uterus and balance the rest of the body as weight shifts away from the center of the body.

Additionally, during pregnancy, the body releases a hormone that- in addition to other purposes- helps relax the ligaments in the pelvis, which causes the jelly hip and pregnancy swing that some pregnant people experience. Because of this increased ligament laxity, muscles have to work harder to support the joints.

“False Sciatica” Sciatic Nerve Pain

The Sciatic nerve runs from the base of the spine through the side of the buttocks and down the leg to the foot. As the muscles around the pelvis and hips work to stabilize and support the growing pelvis, the increased tension can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause the shooting nerve pain so common in pregnancy.

To relieve this nerve pain, the hypertonic muscles that irritate the nerve need to relax. A skilled massage therapist can work to relax the muscles in the hips and pelvis and preform stretches to assist in aligning the pelvis. When seeking massage for false sciatica or pelvic pain in pregnancy, you want a therapist who is experienced in working with the complex muscular systems of the pelvis during pregnancy.

At home, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce discomfort:


  1. Try placing two tennis balls in a sock, tie a knot in the sock then, laying on your back, place one ball on either side of your sacrum, allowing them to press into your back. This releases the ligaments on either side of the sacrum and provides a great deal of relief to some people during pregnancy
  2. A wrap or pelvic support brace can help to stabilize the pelvis, reducing the chances that the pain will increase
  3. Lay on your back on the floor near a wall with your knees raised and calves parallel to the floor. You want to be close enough to the wall to plant your feet firmly against the wall. Press your feet firmly into the wall you should feel a stretch into your butt. Hold it as long as it feels good, like a stretch, then, move your butt closer to the wall and repeat.
  4. Ice and heat can provide temporary relief for muscle pain, use as needed.