Take Maternity Leave Early: Your Job may be Putting You at Risk for Sciatica

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A shocking 80 percent of pregnant women continue working at their jobs up until one month or less before their they give birth, according to a 2003 survey issued by the U.S. Census  Bureau. That is more than the 35 percent of women who made this career choice in the 1960s. With an increasing number of women staying at their jobs until their due dates, buying work-appropriate maternity clothes and battling morning sickness at the office out of financial necessity or to save their maternity leave for after the baby is born, this prioritization of work before the baby comes seems to be full of wins. But such dedication to your job may not only increase your risk of sciatica during pregnancy but also aggravate your already existing pregnancy-related sciatica symptoms. Work and sciatica pain? The connection exists!

Early maternity leave is not just for doctor-ordered bed rest. Because some occupations put you in danger of spinal damage and injury or include job responsibilities that can strain muscles or aggravate already existing sciatic nerve pain, you may want consider cutting back on work before the baby arrives.

Work and Sciatica: Jobs that Put You at Risk

There are two types of jobs that may increase your risk of experiencing sciatica symptoms during pregnancy–and they are exact opposites:

1. The Hands-on Job: A more physical, labor-intensive job will require you to be more active, carrying and lifting heavy items and contorting your body to get tasks done. These occupations can put a lot of demand on your back and increase your chances of  having an accident that causes spinal damage or injury. It may also increase your chances of getting disc problems, medical issues that can worsen sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy. Examples including farming, constructive work, member of a cleaning service, or any other job that needs a lot of manual labor.

2. The Sedentary Desk Job: On the other end of the job spectrum is the mundane, tedious desk job; this type of job generally involves a lot of inactivity for the majority of the day, such as when your job responsibilities revolve around typing on a computer or inputting data into a system. The large amount of sitting during these tasks causes a lot of pressure to be put on your sciatic nerve, damaging your spinal cord over the years and thus potentially predisposing you for sciatica. Secretary, accountant, and most office occupations are all jobs that fall under this category.

 Working in the Third Trimester may Aggravate Sciatica Symptoms 

Even if these jobs do not lead directly to spinal disorders and thus sciatica flare-ups during pregnancy, the years of damage they have inflicted on the spinal cord may make your pregnancy-related sciatica symptoms worse. Bending down, lifting heavy objects as well as sitting for extended periods of time can aggravate sciatica, making the pain more intense or constant. Especially in the third trimester, when your pregnancy is in full swing and you are more sensitive to these bodily strains, your job may be fueling your sciatica during pregnancy. To reduce your discomfort during pregnancy, altering these removable external factors may be the way t

Reduce your Sciatica Symptoms 

The lessons are universal. Even if you are not working during your pregnancy, you can learn a lot about the small adjustments you can make in your pregnant life to help reduce your sciatica symptoms.

  • Do not operate heavy machine
  • Avoid picking up and lifting heavy objects (if you must, bend at the knees so less pressure it put on your back)
  • Maintain an active lifestyle, but don’t overextend yourself (i.e., exercise regularly)

To sum up, let’s put it this way: it is not always a smart choice to bend over backwards for your job while you are pregnant. Work and sciatica go hand-in-hand.





4 Replies to “Take Maternity Leave Early: Your Job may be Putting You at Risk for Sciatica”

  1. It is all about load management. A pregnant body already is experiencing significant load that alters movement patterns and limits the amount of work one can do. Finding the load your body is able to handle during pregnancy is vital to staying pain free. This can be implemented well after pregnancy, as the body continues to adapt after the birth. Lots of good advice and information in this article!

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