Not being able to sleep at night when pregnant because of leg pain is miserable. The entire day you feel sleepy and at night you just can’t. Constant urge to move, shake or rub legs against the surface is known as the restless leg syndrome in pregnancy.
Willis Ekbom Disease is the other name for condition prevalent in pregnancy anemic women. A recent study has found a mean prevalence of RLS during pregnancy of 21%1. Those who get it in pregnancy probably don’t continue experiencing the symptoms of RLS after delivery.
What causes restless legs when pregnant?
The main reason for the itching, burning and insatiable urge to move feet is the backward flow of blood. Improper circulation makes the feet feel numb and sends sharp pain through them. When you move the feet the circulation gets better and you feel better.
Upon an episode of restless leg syndrome, pregnant women might take hours for getting comfort.
Some people relate restless legs in pregnancy to either a baby boy or a baby girl. However, there’s is no scientific logic to relate the two things.
What are Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome?
Your calf is going to feel an intense pain as if there is electricity flowing through it. Many women describe it as crawling and burning sensations in the feet. The intensity of symptoms is so severe that you may wake up from a deep sleep. Waking up happens along moving your legs like a mad seal on the ground.
The shaking of legs by the patient is attempting to get rid of the weird sensations in legs. Pregnant women with deficiency of vitamins, iron and elevated estradiol and progesterone are at very high risk.
Your symptoms will be more severe when you don’t move or sleep on one side. Sleeping without providing enough support to the belly and legs accentuates signs.
Restless Leg Syndrome in Pregnancy can start in the daytime too. Most women have the symptoms while they are sleep or trying to fall asleep.
Cause of Restless Leg Syndrome in Pregnancy
There is no clear answer to pinpoint the cause of RLS in pregnant women. Despite the fact that 33% of pregnant women have RLS, most drugs to cure it are yet to be tested for pregnancy.
Some researchers consider imbalance in levels of dopamine neurotransmitter as the cause. Others consider the change in the circulation of blood causes the signs.
Many women have mentioned that skipping their vitamins for few days aggravate the symptoms. Wearing compression socks and taking vitamins regularly prevented the occurrence. Their account justifies deficiency of folic acid and iron as one of the causes.
The reason for feeling sleepy all day when you have RLS is simply lack of sleep previous night. Pregnant women with recurrent symptoms need to seek medical treatment. Rising estrogen levels too contribute to the worsening of restless leg syndrome.
Anemia in pregnancy increases the risk of RLS 8 to 10 times2. Serving as an indicator of the significance of iron levels in preventing pregnancy RLS, studies prove low iron as a cause.
Studies describe the condition as neurological and all the causes are interrelated. Deficiency of iron is because of extra requirement during pregnancy. Dopamine fluctuations are because of lack of iron. Muscles contractions depend on iron and dopamine and it’s a ripple effect.
There are genetic causes of RLS that are risk factors for the condition to crop up in pregnancy. Most women who have the condition in the third trimester often are having a temporary problem. Soon after delivery, they will not have the signs. Doing stretches and exercises speeds up the recovery.
In case you had RLS even before you conceived, then you need to take extra precautions. Symptoms of pain, crawling sensation in feet and pricking will increase in intensity.
Low hemoglobin levels are very common in pregnancy which is a risk factor for restless leg syndrome3.
Treatment for Restless Leg Syndrome
The International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group has laid down guidelines for effective treatment of WED – Willis Ekbom Disease4. You have only a few options at hand including home remedies, vibrating pads, opioids, and vitamin supplements. Restless Leg Syndrome also occurs in non-pregnant women and men.
There are drugs such as Mirapex that are prescribed for RLS when you’re not pregnant. Research and studies are still ongoing about their safety for intake when pregnant.
Opioids or sedatives have a risk of causing withdrawal symptoms in newborn. Thus you can only take them for short duration and after consultation. Having RLS for long-term in pregnancy puts you at risk of C section.
For many women taking prenatal vitamins and supplements erases the symptoms. You too must first try taking the supplements before taking any drug.
Home Remedies For Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy Home Remedies
Soaking feet in hot water with magnesium salts helps relieve the symptoms. Wearing compression socks at night is a tricky thing. There are chances of further ruining the state by making your toes and feet numb. Don’t wear too tight socks as your limbs have a lot of fluid when you are preggo.
Massage and stretches are the go-to option for every sleep problem during pregnancy. Using elixir or essential oil massage your feet before going to bed.
Here are 10 Natural Ways to Deal with Restless Syndrome During Pregnancy:
1) Increase your iron intake
There are have been many studies conducted showing up to 41.1% chance of getting RLS in pregnancy if you’re anemic. Low iron levels interfere with the metabolism of dopamine and affect nerve impulse conduction. In that case, restless legs become symptoms of iron deficiency in pregnant women. Increasing the intake of iron further under a doctors guidance improves the condition. Make sure you ask your doctor about the supplements you are taking. The effectiveness of iron absorption increases in cells when you take Vitamin C along.
2) Hot and cold compress
Not only does putting hot bags on feet work, but a quick splash of ice water also accelerates the reversal of signs. You can try soaking your legs in ice cold water for few seconds followed by a hot compress. Make sure to pat your feet dry as you can catch a cold.
3) Compression socks
These are going to save you a lot of leg pain. Not only do they help with restless legs but also for cramps and swelling. Avoid wearing them all the time. Also, change the pair of socks every single day. Even if your lemon detergent makes them feel fresh outta laundry, change every day. You don’t want to let laziness transfer you from one problem to fungal infection.
4) Place soap under legs
Quirky as it sounds the old wives tale or home remedy for restless legs in pregnancy works. Keeping a soap under feet has helped many women enjoy their nights’ sleep without the shocks and pain in feet.
5) Have sex before sleeping
Orgasm will help you relaxing and de-stressing. Before sleeping you can have sex when you are in the late first trimester until mucus plug comes off. Ask your doctor once if you’ve doubts about hurting the baby. For some doctors it’s a chance to crack some lame jokes that might make you blush – that’s all. Having sex makes the baby rock and feel good too. And your baby cannot see your lady bits or what’s happening, so just try the remedy.
6) Magnesium salt or Epsom salt soak
Magic concoction for every pregnancy sleep problem and leg pain. Just soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt for 10 minutes. You won’t have to complain again about not being able to sleep due to RLS. The magnesium ions help ease the tension developing in muscles and relaxes them.
7) Stretches and Yoga
Never ever try doing any random judo karate or even stretching during pregnancy. Almost 99% of the times you try, you’re doing it wrong. Even something as simple as stretching your legs in the wrong way will do more harm than good. At least for once go to your doula or chiropractor to understand the moves. Do it under the guidance of an expert.
8) Massage and acupuncture
Massages will help you in alleviating RLS symptoms. Turning over after doing the baby making is all they go through for saying the phrase. Acupuncture during pregnancy can be counteracted, consult an expert or skip the option.
9) Balance time off feet and off the bum
Both matter – how long you sit and exertion. Progressive extremism is the way you’re supposed to take your pregnant workouts. Don’t go to your zumba the first day thinking that you’re going to come back a zumba instructor. Baby steps, baby momma.
10) Use foot creme and pain relieving gels
Some gels and cremes such as crack creams are safe. There are chances that your cracked heels or any bruise is triggering the tingling sensations like thunder in your feet. You feel like ants crawling in your legs when you have restless legs syndrome. Don’t go for pain relieving sprays as they create an aerosol that you may inhale. How far are pain killers and sprays safe depends on many things. Ask your doctor before using any medication for RLS.
- Management Strategies for Restless Legs Syndrome/Willis-Ekbom Disease During Pregnancy