Sciatica during pregnancy. What it is and how to treat it

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Editors note: The information in this article should never be used as a substitute for medical advice from a doctor. Please do not put into action any tips or techniques from this article without checking with your doctor first.


Sciatica during pregnancy is an extremely common complaint from expectant mothers. However, there is hope—there are ways to relieve it to an extent.

Sciatica during pregnancy can make an already confusing and stressful time even more so! But we've got you. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this type of pain.

What is sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body. It starts at the bottom of your spine, runs through your buttock and down the back of your leg, all the way to your toes.

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Sciatica occurs when the growing baby puts pressure on the spine, causing a compression of the sciatic nerve. It is most common in the second and third trimesters.

Sciatica differs from other back or leg pains that are common in pregnancy, in that the pain often feels sharp and shooting and will often run down your leg. Sometimes, sciatica affects only one part of the leg, like the buttock or calf.

How can I tell if I have sciatica while pregnant?

The people I work with often describe sciatica as being "stabbed with a hot poker." So, as you can imagine, pain from this can be severe at times.

Sciatica pain can be confusing, as aches and pains all over the body are so common when you're carrying the extra weight of a growing pregnancy! However, you can usually tell that what you are experiencing is true sciatica by the sheer severity of the pain—if it's bad pain, there is a good chance it is sciatica.

You may also feel pins and needles or numbness along with the pain. This is another indicator of "true" sciatica. The pins and needles and numbness usually occur in the feet or toes, but you might notice your calf going numb, too.

If you have any of these symptoms, it's important to speak with your provider for diagnosis, and of course, treatment options.

What causes sciatica during pregnancy?

There are so many changes that occur to the body during pregnancy, but increased body weight and changes in posture are usually responsible for sciatica when pregnant.

Do I need an MRI scan for sciatica during pregnancy?

This is usually diagnosed based on your symptoms. However, if you have any "worrying" symptoms (like pelvic region numbness or loss of bladder and bowel control), you might need to be reviewed by a specialist, and an MRI may be ordered.

You should also get immediate attention from a doctor if you notice your legs growing weaker all of a sudden. This can happen when the nerve is so compressed that the muscles don't receive the signals they need to "work" properly.

How common is sciatica during pregnancy?

So common that over 50% of women will experience sciatica during pregnancy.

I find that most women who suffer from sciatica during pregnancy are told to just grit their teeth and bear it. When you're told you need to wait for the baby to come before you're going to be out of pain, it doesn't exactly relieve the pain, does it?

You'll be pleased to know that there are things we can do to relieve some of your symptoms.

Will sciatica during pregnancy affect my baby?

The sciatica itself will not affect your baby at all. However, it's important to stay active despite the discomfort. You need to be sure that stress levels are kept under control, and you stay healthy while carrying your child.

Did I do anything wrong to get sciatica during pregnancy?

Nope, it's often just a fact of life—it occurs as a direct result of an increased load on the front of your body.

This leads to great pressure through the spine and discs. If you have a very small, usually harmless disc bulge, it could be pushed towards the sciatic nerve, causing the sciatic symptoms.

But don't worry, it usually does resolve after you give birth.

However, there are still some measures you can take while pregnant to ease your pain and improve your symptoms.

What's the best way to treat sciatica during pregnancy?

First, talk to your provider and get their recommendations. With their approval, try these four remedies:

1. Wear a pregnancy girdle

It might sound uncomfortable, but a pregnancy girdle can actually lift your bump and distribute the weight of your tummy more evenly. This will have the effect of taking the pressure off the spine, and that could help ease your sciatica.

2. Rest, rest, rest

Although I said it's important to stay active even when suffering from sciatica during pregnancy, it's important to get your down-time, too, as suffering from a painful problem can make you stressed and tired.

Try having a lay down on your side, lying on the side of your non-painful leg.

3. Try hot or cold therapy

Cold as a treatment for can be effective pain, stress and inflammation management. The question I most commonly get asked about this is: "If sciatica is coming from my back, should I put the cold on my back or leg?"

The answer is: whatever suits you, but I would begin with the back.

Here's why:

  • Your back will likely be tight and sore when suffering from sciatica during pregnancy. The cold compress will help to dull the pain.
  • The direct cold treatment may help to ease inflammation around the problematic nerve in the spine.
  • Your back is a central part of your body—treating a central area of the body will have a global pain-relieving effect on the entire body.

If you opt for heat, you don't leave it on for extended periods, and you don't let it get too hot. It's best to only apply heat or cold for a maximum of 15 minutes at a time.

4. Stretch the buttock on just the non-painful side

Try the stretch shown below, only on your non-painful side. Now, this sounds strange, but it's one of the techniques I use with clients all the time to give them significant pain relief. You may notice a rapid improvement in your symptoms.



It is important to not stretch the painful side at all. Stretching the painful side only aggravates the sciatic nerve. By stretching the painful side, you're stopping the nerve from settling down and can make matters worse.

Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, on the non-painful side only. Repeat four to five times on that side each morning.

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When we buy baby gear we expect it to be safe, and while no parent wants to hear that their gear is being recalled we appreciate when those recalls happen as a preventative measure—before a baby gets hurt.

That's the case with the recent recall of Baby Trend's Tango Mini Stroller. No injuries have been reported but the recall was issued because a problem with the hinge joints mean the stroller can collapse with a child in it, which poses a fall risk.

"As part of our rigorous process, we recently identified a potential safety issue. Since we strongly stand by our safety priority, we have decided to voluntarily recall certain models of the Tango Mini Strollers. The recalled models, under excessive pressure, both hinge joints could release, allowing the stroller to collapse and pose a fall hazard to children. Most importantly, Baby Trend has received NO reports of injuries," the company states on its website.

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The strollers were sold through Amazon and Target in October and November 2019 and cost between $100 and $120. If you've got one you should stop using it and contact Baby Trend for a refund or replacement.

Four models are impacted by this recall:

  • Quartz Pink (Model Number ST31D09A)
  • Sedona Gray (Model Number ST31D10A)
  • Jet Black (Model Number ST31D11A)
  • Purest Blue (Model Number ST31D03A

"If you determine that you own one of these specific model numbers please stop using the product and contact Baby Trend's customer service at 1-800-328-7363 or via email at info@babytrend.com," Baby Trend states.

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[Editor's note: While Motherly loves seeing and sharing photos of baby Archie and other adorable babies when the images are shared with their parents' consent, we do not publish pictures taken without a parent's consent. Since these pictures were taken without Markle's permission while she was walking her dogs, we're not reposting them.]

Meghan Markle is a trendsetter for sure. When she wears something the world notices, and this week she was photographed wearing her son Archie in a baby carrier. The important thing to know about the photos is that they show the Duchess out for a walk with her two dogs while wearing Archie in a blue Ergo. She's not hands-free baby wearing, but rather wearing an Ergo while also supporting Archie with her arm, as the carrier isn't completely tight.

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When British tabloids published the pictures many babywearing devotees and internet commenters offered opinions on how Markle is holding her son in the photo, but as baby gear guru Jamie Grayson notes, "it is none of our business."

In a post to his Facebook page, Grayson (noted NYC baby gear expert) explained that in the last day or so he has been inundated with hundreds of messages about how Markle is wearing the carrier, and that while he's sure many who messaged with concerns had good intentions he hopes to inject some empathy into the conversation.

As Grayson points out, these are paparazzi photos, so it was a private moment not meant for world-wide consumption. "This woman has the entire world watching her every move and action, especially now that she and Harry are leaving the umbrella of the royal family, and I honestly hope they are able to find some privacy and peace. So let's give her space," he explains, adding that "while those pictures show something that is less than ideal, it's going to be okay. I promise. It's not like she's wearing the baby upside down."

He's right, Archie was safe and not in danger and who knows why the straps on Markle's carrier were loose (maybe she realized people were about to take pictures and so she switched Archie from forward-facing, or maybe the strap just slipped.)

Grayson continues: "When you are bringing up how a parent is misusing a product (either in-person or online) please consider your words. Because tone of voice is missing in text, it is important to choose your words carefully because ANYTHING can be misconstrued. Your good intentions can easily be considered as shaming someone."

Grayson's suggestions injected some much-needed empathy into this discourse and reminded many that new parents are human beings who are just trying to do their best with responsibilities (and baby gear) that isn't familiar to them.

Babywearing has a ton of benefits for parents and the baby, but it can take some getting used to. New parents can research safety recommendations so they feel confident. In Canada, where the pictures in question were snapped, the government recommends parents follow these safety guidelines when wearing infants in carriers:

  • Choose a product that fits you and your baby properly.
  • Be very careful putting a baby into—or pulling them out of—a carrier or sling. Ask for help if you need it.
  • When wearing a carrier or sling, do not zip up your coat around the baby because it increases the risk of overheating and suffocation.
  • Be particularly careful when using a sling or carrier with babies under 4 months because their airways are still developing.
  • Do not use a carrier or sling during activities that could lead to injury such as cooking, running, cycling, or drinking hot beverages.

Health Canada also recommends parents "remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times" and offers the following tips to ensure kissability.

"Keep the baby's face in view. Keep the baby in an upright position. Make sure the baby's face is not pressed into the fabric of the carrier or sling, your body, or clothing. Make sure the baby's chin is not pressed into their chest. Make sure the baby's legs are not bunched up against their stomach, as this can also restrict breathing. Wear the baby snug enough to support their back and hold onto the baby when bending over so they don't fall out of the carrier or sling. Check your baby often."

Meghan Markle is a new mom who was caught off guard during a moment she didn't expect her baby to be photographed. Every parent (no matter how famous) has a right to privacy for their child and the right to compassion from other parents. If we want people to learn how to safely babywear we can't shame them for trying.

Mama, if you've been shamed for wearing your baby "wrong" don't feel like you need to stop. Follow the tips above or check in with local baby-wearing groups to get advice and help. You've got this.

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At one of the most important nights of their career, celebrities made sure their hairstyles stayed put at the 26th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. As a collective, the hairstyles were beautiful—french twists, bobs, pin curls and killer cuts filled the red carpet on the night to remember.

And surprisingly, the secret wasn't just the stylist team, mama. For many of the celebs, much of the look can be attributed to a $5 hairspray—yes, you read that correctly.

Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray was one of the top stylist picks for celebs for a lightweight, flexible finishing spray, leaving tons of body and bounce. Unlike most hairsprays that can take several minutes (even a half hour) to set the look, this extra-hold one contains a fast-drying, water-free formula that helps protect your hair from frizz in minutes. As a result, celebrities were able to hold the shape of their styles with mega volume.

"Dove hairspray works well by holding curls in place with maximum hold and ultra shine, while still maintaining soft, touchable texture that is easy to brush out," says Dennis Gots for Dove Hair, who styled Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the SAG Awards. Translation: It's great for on-the-go mamas who want a shiny hold that lasts, but doesn't feel sticky.

Here are a few awesome hairstyles that were finished with the drugstore Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray at the SAG awards:

Lili Reinhart's French twist

"I sprayed Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray all over Lili's hair to lock in the shape and boost the shine factor, making the whole look really sleek," says stylist Renato Campora who was inspired to create the look by Reinhart's romantic gown. "Lili's look is sleek and sharp with a romantic twist."

Cynthia Erivo's finger waves

"This look is classic Cynthia! I knew I wanted to keep it simple, but it's actually quite detailed and intricate up close," says stylist Coree Moreno. "While the hair was still wet (yes—I needed to work fast!) I generously spritzed on the hairspray for all night hold without flaking. The hair continued to air dry perfectly while she finished up makeup."

Nathalie Emmanuel's curly high pony

"Nathalie wanted a retro Hollywood glam for the SAG Awards, so I used her natural texture and created a high pony with loose tendrils framing her face and neckline," says stylist, Neeko. "I finessed the look with the hairspray to lock in the style while keeping her hair looking and feeling touchable."

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's slicked back bob

"I used duckbill clips on different areas of her hair to keep the shape and curl while the hair air dried. Air drying the hair allowed for maximum shine and then I sprayed lots of hairspray all over to truly lock in the sleek shape and enhance the shine," says stylist Dennis Gots, who was inspired by a 90s vibe for Waller-Bridge's look.

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

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Who doesn't want a hairspray that makes your hair feel as good as it looks? Dove Style+Care Extra Hold Hairspray holds body, volume and enhances shine. It gives your hair touchable hold while fighting frizz, even in damp or humid conditions.

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We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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We often think of the unequal gender division of unpaid labor as a personal issue, but a new report by Oxfam proves that it is a global issue—and that a handful of men are becoming incredibly wealthy while women and girls bear the burden of unpaid work and poverty.

According to Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls has an economic value of $10.8 trillion per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the entire technology industry.

"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labor and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector," the report notes.

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The unpaid work of hundreds of millions of women is generating massive wealth for a couple of thousand (predominantly male) billionaires. "What is clear is that this unpaid work is fueling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few," the report states.

Max Lawson is Oxfam International's Head of Inequality Policy. In an interview with Vatican News, he explained that "the foundation of unpaid work done by the poorest women generates enormous wealth for the economy," and that women do billions of hours of unpaid care work (caring for children, the sick, the elderly and cooking, cleaning) for which they see no financial reward but which creates financial rewards for billionaires.

Indeed, the report finds that globally 42% of women can't work for money because of their unpaid care responsibilities.

In the United States, women spend 37% more time doing unpaid care work than men, Oxfam America notes in a second report released in cooperation with the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

"It's an economy that is built on the backs of women and of poor women and their labour, whether it's poorly paid labour or even unpaid labour, it is a sexist economy and it's a broken economy, and you can only fix the gap between the rich and the poor if at the same time you fix the gap between women and men," Lawson explains.

According to Lawson, you can't fight economic inequality without fighting gender equality, and he says 2020 is the year to do both. Now is a great time to start, because as Motherly has previously reported, no country in the world is on track to eliminate gender inequality by 2030 (one of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 United Nations member countries back in 2015) and no country will until the unpaid labor of women and girls is addressed.

"Governments around the world can, and must, build a human economy that is feminist and benefits the 99%, not only the 1%," the Oxfam report concludes.

The research suggests that paid leave, investments in childcare and the care of older adults and people with disabilities as well as utilizing technology to make working more flexible would help America close the gap.

(For more information on how you can fight for paid leave, affordable childcare and more this year check out yearofthemother.org.)

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