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Sciatic Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be filled with all sorts of new sensations – that moment when you first find out you’re pregnant, experiencing what it’s like to grow a new life, or the feeling of your baby kicking for the first time. Of course, there are also the less-pleasant sensations: nausea, heartburn, the discomfort of a changing body, joint pain, back pain, and for some, sciatic pain. 

Sciatic pain, also called “sciatica,” is a type of nerve pain often resulting from irritation, injury, or pressure on your sciatic nerve1. Sciatic pain tends to feel like burning, tingling, numbness, or an electric shock that radiates down the leg, (or less commonly, both legs). While sciatic pain during pregnancy tends to be temporary, it can be intense, so it’s important to find ways to relieve this pain and know when to speak to your doctor.

Sciatic Pain During Pregnancy 

There are several causes of sciatic pain during pregnancy. These causes most commonly occur during the third trimester2, when your baby and your body are at their biggest. This change in weight and body shape causes a shift in your body’s center of gravity. Some theorize this alone may cause sciatic pain.

At the same time, your body will be producing more of the hormone relaxin3, which causes the ligaments in the body to loosen in preparation for labor. This, combined with your heavier weight, may increase the likelihood of pinching a nerve or slipping a disc4, which could lead to sciatic pain. 

Another possible reason may be your baby. As your baby gets bigger, their weight and the weight of the uterus can press down onto the sciatic nerve, especially when the baby is positioned in certain ways.3 This pressure may lead to sciatic pain. 

How to Reduce Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy

  • Do some gentle stretchingWalnut Hill OBGYN5 recommends a few specific, gentle stretches to help relieve tension around the sciatic nerve: Pigeon Pose, Bound Angle Pose, a wide Child’s Pose, and Warrior Two Pose. These stretches should gently open up the hip and hip flexors to help relieve pressure on the lower back. 
  • Use hot and cold therapy – For the first seven days of sciatic pain, experts recommend6 you use ice on the area to reduce inflammation. After that first week, you can start to use heat on the area to increase blood flow and relax the muscles. 
  • See a physical therapist – If your sciatic pain is impacting your life or ability to sleep, you may want to make an appointment with a physical therapist. Physical therapists can guide you in specific exercises for your body and type of pain. Make sure you’re seeing a licensed professional who does prenatal work. 
  • Engage in low-impact exercise or prenatal yoga – Avoiding movement is one of the last things you should do when you have sciatic pain.6 Focus on activities like walking, swimming, cycling, pilates, or prenatal yoga, which can help strengthen the core and lengthen the back muscles. 
  • Maintain a healthy pregnancy weight – The amount of weight7 you should gain during pregnancy is unique to you and your body type, so be sure you talk to your doctor about this. Generally, you should try to gain within the range your doctor advises and to gain it at a steady pace. Getting plenty of exercise and eating a healthy diet will be essential in maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight. 

How to Sleep with Sciatica Pain During Pregnancy 

  • Use supportive devices Pregnancy pillows and belly bands can provide comfort and reduce pressure on the lower back. Pregnancy pillows are typically used for sleep but can also be used while sitting. Belly bands are usually used while standing or moving. Also, explore our picks for the best mattresses for pregnancy.
  • Sleep on your side – Side sleeping is the most recommended8 sleeping position for pregnant people anyway, but if you’re also having sciatic pain, it may provide some good relief. Be sure you’re lying down on the side of your body that isn’t in pain. 

Sciatic Pain During Pregnancy FAQs 

How do you massage your sciatic nerve during pregnancy?

One way to relieve sciatic nerve pain is massage therapy9. However, you should clear this with your doctor before booking a prenatal massage.

What are the physical exercises for sciatica during pregnancy?

Stretches and yoga poses can be an excellent way to help with sciatic pain during pregnancy. As with massages, you should check with your doctor before doing any of these exercises. Some recommended examples include Pigeon Pose, Bound Angle Pose, a wide Child’s Pose, and Warrior Two Pose.5

What is the biggest trigger point for sciatica?

Trigger points10 are small spots located in various taut bands of skeletal muscle. They are formed after trauma, either acute or repetitive, takes place in a particular region of the body.

The sciatic nerve runs from the buttocks and down both legs, and trigger points can form along this route. The biggest trigger point11 for sciatica is generally found in the piriformis muscle, which runs along the lower area of the spine and the upper part of the thigh or in the major buttock muscle called the gluteus medius.

If you develop a sciatica trigger point, it can be treated in various ways depending on the severity. These include stretching, physical therapy, ultrasonography, and injections.10

Final Word of Advice

If you’re experiencing intense or consistent sciatic pain, be sure to see your doctor. They can help guide you to what will work best for your unique body, to get you feeling better, faster. 

Natalie Grigson

Natalie Grigson


About Author

Natalie is a content writer for Sleep Advisor with a deep passion for all things health and a fascination with the mysterious activity that is sleep. Outside of writing about sleep, she is a bestselling author, improviser, and creative writing teacher based out of Austin.

Side Sleeper


  1. “Sciatica”. Cleveland Clinic. Last modified May 21, 2023. 
  2. Bonds MD, Sheila H. “Sciatica during pregnancy: How to relieve the pain”. Baylor Scott & White Health. 2017.
  3. “Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy”. Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health. Webpage accessed June 22, 2023. 
  4. “Herniated Disc”. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Webpage accessed June 22, 2023. 
  5. “Easing Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy”. Walnut Hill Obstetrics & Gynecology Associates. Webpage accessed June 22, 2023. 
  6. “Sciatica home remedies and self-care”. Harvard Health Publishing. 2020. 
  7. “Weight Gain During Pregnancy”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last modified June 13, 2022. 
  8. “Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy”. University of Rochester Medical Center. Webpage accessed June 22, 2023. 
  9. “How to Handle Sciatica During Your Pregnancy”. Cleveland Clinic. Last updated December 30, 2019. 
  10. Alvarez, David J., Rockwell, Pamela G. “Trigger points: diagnosis and management”. National Library of Medicine. 2002.
  11. “Trigger Point Therapy – Sciatica Overview”. Niel Asher: Natural Alternative Therapies. Webpage accessed April 26, 2024.