Back Pain & Sciatica During Pregnancy

Every woman who has ever carried a baby knows that there are many health issues that go along with the new life including excessive urination, nausea and swollen feet. But there are other health problems that don’t get nearly as much press as the others, such as sciatica and back pain. Most pregnant women suffer some back pain due to the pressure of the baby on the lumbar region, but a smaller percentage of women suffer from pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Pregnancy-related sciatica can cause symptoms such as discomfort, pain, numbness and tingling down the lower back, hips, buttocks, thighs and calves. Because of the size of the sciatic nerve, the pain can extend far beyond the back depending on just how compressed the nerve is. Sciatica and general back pain does not occur at the same point in every pregnancy, if often varies by each woman depending on the size, location and position of the growing fetus. As the fetus grows more compression on the sciatic nerve can occur, which is why the second and third trimester is when most women feel the symptoms of sciatica.

While pregnancy related sciatica and back pain can be treated, giving birth is the only way to get rid of the pain altogether. 

Treat Pregnancy-Related Back Pain

Pregnant women who suffer debilitating sciatica may be prescribed pain medication, but it is not recommended because it can have an adverse reaction on the development of the baby. Some common sciatica treatments during pregnancy include bed rest and massage therapy as they can provide much-needed relief without the fear of painkillers during pregnancy.

Hot and cold therapy is another back pain treatment that is effective and safe for pregnant women. A cold compress or ice pack can reduce the inflammation and pain, while the heating pad or hot compress can relax the muscles and provide relief. These are just some types of back pain treatment, but lifestyle changes are also recommended to alleviate the pain and discomfort.


Pelvic pain is one of the most common causes of back pain during pregnancy because the pelvis is shifting to accommodating the changes taking place in the body. The most common cause for the onset of back pain during pregnancy however is the misalignment of the spine, which can occur for a variety of reasons. It could be a problem that existed prior to the pregnancy but was exacerbated by the additional weight, or the sciatica could be due to an underlying health issue.

As the fetus develops and grows inside the belly, weight gain generally occurs, which can also cause mild or acute back pain. As the belly grows larger, it begins to pull at the joints and ligaments in the back causing back pain. This problem can be exacerbated by unnecessary lifting and exercising with the additional weight.

Although pregnant women see their physicians on a monthly basis, they often keep quiet about the back pain. This is unfortunate because pregnancy-related back pain can lead to many other problems during the pregnancy. For example if your blood pressure has increased during your pregnancy, being in constant pain can increase it even further, putting your pregnancy at risk.

This is why it is so important to get treatment for your back pain right away.

General back pain as well as sciatica during pregnancy can be very uncomfortable and painful, in addition to the many other ailments associated with pregnancy. Although some women will suffer excruciating pain, many will simply suffer mild pain and discomfort. Put simply, it depends on the woman and the baby.

Seeking the help of a physician is the best way to relieve the pain and prevent worsening back pain beyond pregnancy. There are many natural treatments for back pain for pregnant women concerned with the health of their baby. 

Filed Under: Sciatica
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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