This poor mum has been suffering from pregnancy sciatica, a pain she feels in her lower back and legs.
Sciatica is caused by irritation of your sciatic nerve, which starts in your lower spine and ends in the thigh, claims Health Line.
‘I Had Shooting Pains Down My Left Leg’
Cherie-Ann Oxlee, who is 32 weeks pregnant with twins, says she began feeling shooting pains in her legs when she was 22 weeks.
“I had worked a busy shift and my left leg kept getting pains through it that progressively got worse throughout the day,” she says. “Putting pressure on either leg caused intense shooting pain from my left hip down to my thigh and my knee.
“Even taking the pressure off my leg by standing on my right leg didn’t stop the pain.”
Cherie-Ann, who is a Healthy Mummy Community member, is also a mum to her 22 month old son and says it has been impossible to even lift him.
The active mama suffered from pregnancy sciatica with her first baby and says there wasn’t much she could do to make the pain go away at first.
“I couldn’t sit on the sofa, I couldn’t even lay on the bed,” she admits. “It was a nightmare because I was unable to lay on my back.”
Cherie-Ann was able to lie on her stomach supported by some pillows, but decided to go and see an osteopath for additional help.
“After assessment, my osteopath found that my lower back was extremely tight and locked up,” she says. “He worked on massaging my lower back and after my first treatment I felt immediate relief.”
Cherie-Ann has continued to see her osteopath every two to four weeks through her pregnancy.
“Regular appointments with my osteopath have definitely prevented the pain getting worse and have helped keep me mobile.”
What Is Pregnancy Sciatica?
During pregnancy, many women feel aches and pains in their pelvis and lower back.
According to Health Direct, sciatica is a condition that can lead to pain in the back and legs. There are a range of different causes of sciatica. In most cases, the condition gets better over time, either on its own or with treatment. Between 50 and 80 per cent of pregnant women experience back pain when they are expecting.
During pregnancy the body undergoes many changes in preparation for child birth, some of which can predispose the woman to getting “sciatic” pain.
“There is the release of the hormone relaxin which makes the muscles and ligaments more lax in preparation for child birth, however at the same time it makes the spine and joints more vulnerable to injury or aches and pains – especially low back pain or pelvic joint pain. As well as this, there is the added weight of the baby and a change to the centre of gravity which subsequently affects the posture. These changes affect the musculoskeletal system during pregnancy and also for up to 6 months after child birth,” says Margarita Gurevich, a Senior Physiotherapist at Health Point Physiotherapy.
“The changes can lead to more pressure going through the discs of the lower back, in turn increasing the chance of the woman having a disc bulge. If this occurs the bulging disc can put pressure on the nerves going through the spinal canal and, depending on which nerve is getting impinged, refer pain to the groin, hip, and down the leg. Similarly laxity of the pelvic ligaments can lead to pelvic instability. When the pelvis is unstable the result is often pain being experienced in the lower back and down the leg.”
Symptoms To Look Out For
- Shooting pain down one side
- Numbness in the foot
- Sciatica is not caused by your baby pressing on a nerve. It is often caused by a damaged disc on the spine or swelling in the area of damage.
Treatment For Sciatica
- Apply heat or ice packs to the affected area
- Wear flat shoes
- Rest using pillows in bed
- Do not lift anything heavy
- Your physiotherapy will give you advice on the positions you can do during your labour. Many women with the condition opt for a pool birth.
If you have any other concerns about this, we advise you see your GP or midwife as soon as possible.
To read more on the aches and pains you may experience during pregnancy, click here.