Restless Legs Syndrome in Pregnancy

by Carol Bell

Author: Carol Bell

Restless Legs Syndrome is a painful and unwelcome symptom of pregnancy suffered by an estimated fifth of all pregnant women. Women who have this condition describe it as a burning, crawling painful feeling in the lower part of the legs accompanied by irresistible urges to move and relieve the discomfort. Some have described it as a sensation of insects crawling about under the skin. Restless legs syndrome usually occurs after extensive periods of being seated and when lying down and can stop you from sleeping and getting much needed rest. The good news about having restless legs syndrome in pregnancy is that it usually subsides once the baby is born.

There is no cure for Restless Legs Syndrome and its cause is undetermined. At this point, there are only speculations as to why some women experience it, particularly during the last trimester of pregnancy. Some of those speculations include that pregnant women are deficient in vitamins or not receiving enough iron either through a supplement or in their diet.

Unfortunately most of the prescription medicines available for the treatment of the symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome are not suitable to use in pregnancy as they may affect the baby. However the condition is often helped by changing to a low fat diet, reducing sugar and sugar substitutes and reducing caffeine, nicotine and alcohol intake. In many cases the problem is eased or helped by taking supplements of iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamins B-12 and E.

However, there are some practical non-medical treatments that can be tried to see if they will work for you. In many cases exercise will help to relieve or alleviate the pain so take some form of exercise before bedtime such as walking, stretching or yoga. However strenuous exercise should not be taken as this may exacerbate the problem. Soaking the legs in warm water will often help to relieve the pain so it is a good idea to have a warm bath then a milky drink before bedtime. An unusual remedy that will work for some people to rub a dry bar of soap over the entire legs and thigh area.

When in bed the wearing of support stockings or tights may ease Restless Legs Syndrome. If this does not work you could try sleeping with a pillow between the legs or a hot water bottle or heat pad. It is important that you try to find a remedy for the Restless Legs Syndrome as getting sufficient rest is important whilst you are pregnant.

In conjunction with the advice offered by your attending medical professional, the pregnant woman should ask about the use of iron and vitamin supplements. In addition, it is important to provide symptomatic treatment for your legs. This treatment can be in the form of massaging your legs, treating your legs with hot or cold compresses and immersing your legs in either hot or cold water. In addition, it is important to follow a healthy diet and avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

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