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Easing Sciatic pain in pregnancy - Ask the Expert

In the latest episode of “Ask The Expert” in the Private Member’s area of the Positively Pregnant site (available to ALL parents who embark on the Online Hypnobirthing Course) - I chatted to Jane, from Smile Health in Alnwick. Jane trained at McTimoney College of Chiropractic, and have been a chiropractor since 2004.

Jane will typically see pregnant women at her clinic during their 3rd trimester, when the additional weight of the later stages of pregnancy are causing them pain. At her welcoming clinic Jane also has a special treatment bed, which is specially designed to accommodate pregnant women’s bumps.

I absolutely loved chatting to Jane, and in this 25 minute interview we chatted about all sorts, from twin birth to big babies, breech birth to headaches in pregnancy. Jane has a fabulous perspective on all things pregnancy pain, birth and woman centred care in pregnancy as both a Mum herself, and a holistic healthcare professional.

The full interview video can be found in the ‘ Ask The Expert’ section of the PP Members area, but in this blog I’m sharing some snippets of the questions which were sent to Jane from the Positively Pregnant Community.

Common problems during pregnancy (which you’ll see from the questions asked!) which Chiropractic can help with are sciatica, pelvic girdle pain and back pain in pregnancy. Chiropractors can help with these problems by helping to align the spine and pelvis, as well as making adjustments which will help create more space.


“What can I do at home to help with sciatica”


“Sciatica is a really common problem in the later stages of pregnancy, and it’s often caused by underlying/ undiagnosed problems which were already there in pre pregnancy, but which become aggravated due to the extra weight we carry in pregnancy, as well as the hormone Relaxin making everything looser.

There’s actually quite a lot we can do at home to help ease the pain of Sciatica in pregnancy. I would recommend getting a Swiss Ball, or a birth ball to start with, and look at starting yoga. We want to get everything moving again in all the places we want movement.

You could try some yoga at home online, but I would really recommend finding a local class to you, because it’s always better to have the real life interaction of a teacher, helping you to build up your practice to suit your abilities and individual body. Not to mention the social and community aspect of pregnancy yoga classes.

In terms of treating it at home, you might want to try something like a piriformis stretch, like a figure of 4 stretch, which some people can do, some people can’t - it can be a bit hit or miss as to whether that works.

Or you can use a small spike ball, like the tumble drier balls and just rolls those in the areas you’re feeling pain. Basically just lie or sit on it. But that can actually aggravate it sometimes, because what you’re doing is pressing right into where the nerve is, so sometimes that can actually make it worse. It’s important to start listening to your body in pregnancy anyway, so tune into whether that’s too painful for you. These are the main thing’s I’d recommend trying at home for Sciatica.”


“How can I ease Pelvic girdle pain in pregnancy?”


“The pain here comes from movement in the joints due to the baby moving about. Something that we can do at home to help relieve this sort of pain is squeezing the legs together using a small exercise ball, but again - if you go and see a chiropractor and have your back checked out BEFORE you get pregnant - even if you want to have a quick zoom appointment and have an assessment.

We all have different body sizes and shapes, some people for example have a lot deeper curve in the lower back, which can just become more pronounced during pregnancy. If you’re able to seek an assessment before these things become a problem during pregnancy.

I would recommend seeking an appointment with a chiropractor in the 2nd trimester, once morning sickness has eased - but the earlier the better as things can just get so uncomfortable further down the line.


“How can I feel more comfortable at my desk whilst pregnant?”


“If you are at work, get a wobble cushion! Not everyone has space for a birth ball in their office, so a wobble cushion is a great alternative. They tend to come with both a nobly side and a smooth side, and that really helps as you kind of glide forwards towards your computer, rather than bending forwards and it really helps - so that would be worth asking your boss to get hold of for you during your pregnancy.


“I heard seeing a chiropractor can make labour shorter and less painful - is that true?”


“What I would say is that I had chiropractic care all through my pregnancy & afterwards - I had a very short labour with twins at 36 weeks, I was very fortunate with this, and if i had another pregnancy it could have been completely different. Whether the labour was short because of the chiropractic care, I can’t conclusively say. I have fellow chiropractor friends who have had long, difficult births!

Anecdotally a lot of people do think it helps. Your baby is sitting in the pelvic bowl, and making little adjustments can just allow an extra bit of wiggle room for your baby to turn and move around a bit more into a better position.

You can sometimes see that in practice, when a woman’s bump is a little bit asymmetrical and then after the treatment it just seems to be in a better more aligned position, so it definitely helps with the baby as much as it can.

Whether it makes labour shorter? I just don’t think we can say that - but we are giving you the best possible chance, when combined with other healthy habits, much like practicing yoga, eating well, giving up drinking and eating well. But I certainly wouldn’t want to make the claims that chiropractic makes labour easier or shorter!”

A HUGE thank you to Jane for taking part in this episode of "Ask The Expert'! If you'd like to learn more about Jane, or how chiropractic practice can help during your pregnancy - get in touch with Jane directly here:

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