As promised, here is my newest series on having a healthy pregnancy, one that is as natural and enjoyable as possible. I hope to cover a very wide range of topics, including nutrition and nourishing your baby and yourself, using a midwife, having and preparing for natural childbirth and homebirth, supplements and natural remedies for common concerns, everyday struggles and challenges, avoiding harmful substances and toxins and anything else that I (or you!) can come up with.

I plan to write this series in sort of a "tidbit" fashion. What I mean by that is that rather than one long post on good nutrition, another on supplements, another on staying fit, etc. I will be writing many short and (hopefully!) informative posts on many individual issues. This keeps it more manageable for me, more readable for you, and will allow me to quickly jump in and answer questions and topics of interest as they arise.

Winter pregnant woman

So let's get started!

Sciatica… oh, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. One of the first questions I was asked when I mentioned this series was from a dear reader who is currently experiencing sciatica… oh honey, I've been there. I know your pain. I have had prolonged and painful sciatica with both of my pregnancies (although they were wonderful and healthy in almost every other way!).

For those who are unsure of what sciatica is, it is when pressure from the growing uterus begins to affect the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back, down through the legs and into the feet, and causes it to spasm or become inflamed . In practical terms, it means that when you are walking or even just standing or sitting still, pain will suddenly radiate and shoot down either one or both legs, leaving you temporarily unable to move until the flareup dies down (at least, in my own experience).

For me, it begins around month 5, as soon as the baby really begins to grow in size and I really begin to grow myself, and oh-so-thankfully ends the moment that sweet baby is pushed out into the world. So what did I do about it, and what may be able to help those of you who also cope with this condition?

1) Exercise! Stretch! Walk! Move! Did I state it strongly enough? :)

Keeping myself toned, strong and my muscles well used and stretched was one of the best cures for me. My exercise of choice while pregnant is Pregnancy Yoga (minus any Eastern/spiritual stuff, of course). Simply used for it's physical benefits, yoga is very calming, relaxing and soothing. It is also toning, strengthening and reaches muscles and joints that are not easily addressed through many other kinds of exercise. I'm sure I'll talk more about this topic later, but really any kind of exercise, stretching or movement will be helpful.

2) Chiropractic care**

This can really help to relieve some of the pressure, and other muscle strains that can be associated. My big caveat with this is to find someone who is trained and experienced in working with pregnant woman. Your best bet may be to ask your midwife for a recommendation of an excellent chiropractor.

3) Massage therapy**

This can also be a great way to have the muscles in your lower back loosened and relaxed, and may also help to relieve some of the pressure and pain. Again, it's very important to have a qualified and experienced therapist, who knows what to do and what not to do in pregnancy. Make sure that they do not use a "pregnancy table" (with a hole in the center for your stomach, so that you can lie down flat). My therapist has told me that this puts far too much strain on the uterus muscles and is no longer considered good practice in massage therapy. Best options are lying on one side, supported by pillows, or sitting and leaning forward onto a bed to rest your head and arms.

4) Hot and Cold Packs

Try to see what works for you. Sometimes alternating hot and cold on your lower back for 10 minutes each can help to reduce inflammation of the nerve. You could try using a small heating pad, or taking a hot bath as well.

5) Shift baby's position

This is sometimes easier said than done! :) The way that I find most successful to encourage baby to move out of an uncomfortable position is to get on my hands and knees, to do pelvic rocks or even to do something practical like scrub the kitchen floor (additionally, this helps to move the baby into the correct position for a smoother labor, so that's a definite bonus!). 

**Note- Always let any practitioner you are seeing know that you are pregnant, how far along you are and any other complications or specifics of your pregnancy. This is crucial to helping them care for your body properly and safely. If you ever experience any pain or discomfort or are simply unsure about what a practitioner is doing or wants to do, don't do it! Stop and check with your midwife or doctor first. It is always better safe than sorry! And remember, I'm not a doctor, a health care professional, bla bla bla. I am not qualified to give you medical advice, this is simply one mama's personal opinion, so please take it as such! :)

Any other great tips for coping with sciatica? And please, start shooting out your questions and topics you'd like to hear about in this new series!