A Pain in the Backside!
Most women accept that they will get some form of backache whilst pregnant but for those that suffer from sciatica it can start to affect their day-to-day lives and be very debilitating.
Sciatica is inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back through the buttock and down the leg. During pregnancy the nerve can be inflamed due to a combination of posture, muscular restriction, hormones, stretching of uterine ligaments and the position of the baby. Generally if you have a shooting pain in your buttock and down into your legs, then you may have sciatica. It can be painful enough to restrict movement, especially certain actions such as getting in or out a chair, or going upstairs. It is more common in the 2nd and 3rd trimester but can occur earlier, especially if you have previously suffered from low back problems.
The best way of dealing with it is to seek pregnancy massage or osteopathy where the muscles can be relieved and advice can be given on specific situations. Regular stretching and maintaining the muscles through activities such as pregnancy yoga or aquafit classes, or swimming will also help. Note that the breaststroke is not ideal for sciatica; you are better sticking to the back stroke or crawl, or perhaps just use a float and kick your feet. When doing any activity, try to work the core muscles behind the baby, as these are the ones that are important for supporting your posture.
Getting out of bed can be enough to set off a painful spasm for some people, so to reduce this try rolling on one side and letting the legs dangle off the bed, allowing their weight to help you up to seated.
After the birth, sciatica usually eases, but to reduce the chance of it reoccurring, especially as lifting and carrying the baby can exacerbate the low back, aim to maintain the muscles with continued stretches and exercise. Having low back problems is no fun, especially when you have a small child needing cared for, so keeping on top of your back health is vital.