Causes, Symptoms, and How to Stop Sciatica Discomfort During Pregnancy

Dealing with Sciatica During Pregnancy: How PT Can Help

Causes, Symptoms, and How to Stop Sciatica Discomfort During Pregnancy

Sciatica… what a pain in the butt!  While sciatica can be very common during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, it is not something that you have to suffer through until your baby is born. 

Here are three main reasons why sciatica can happen during pregnancy and how physical therapy can help address each of these causes and decrease your pain:

1. Posture Changes

During pregnancy our posture changes significantly!  As our baby grows, our center of mass shifts forward which can cause an increased curve in your low spine.  Part of the sciatic nerve comes out of your low spine and if that curve is large it can pinch down on the nerve causing it to send pain into your back, butt, and leg.  Your physical therapist can help you with postural exercises to strengthen your deep core muscles, provide stretches to decrease tightness in your back and hips, and find positions of pain relief.

2. Increased Fluid Retention

During pregnancy, we require more fluid intake to increase blood volume, amniotic fluid, and to support our growing baby.  With all this extra fluid we can get swelling and swelling can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve.  Our therapists can help with hands-on techniques to minimize swelling as well as teach exercises to help move the fluid through your system. 

3. Hormones

Through pregnancy our body creates a hormone called relaxin.  This hormone causes our ligaments to become loose and lax in preparation for labor and delivery.  Increased relaxin can cause low back pain as well as changes in pelvic alignment that could be putting pressure on your sciatic nerve.  A physical therapist can look at your pelvic alignment and correct it to take pressure off of your nerve and provide exercises to help create stability in the pelvis.

If you have been feeling sciatic pain, please contact one of our three offices to schedule an evaluation.  Our therapists would love to answer all of your questions and support your body through pregnancy and beyond!

We’re so happy to help and want to see every woman live their most energetic, active lives! Give us a call at 515-255-3932 to set-up your appointment today!

Breathe. is a three-clinic holistic physical therapy practice in Des Moines, West Des Moines and Iowa City / Cedar Rapids area specializing in dry needling, dra, pants peeing, women’s health, pregnancy/postpartum pain and recovery and pelvic floor dysfunction. Learn more at

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