Restless Leg Syndrome during Pregnancy

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA (Clinical Psychology)
Last updated date : October 11, 2022

Restless leg syndrome is a condition where a person has an unconditional urge to move their legs. This is because of a sensation that is uncomfortable. This condition can occur at any age. This article discusses the Restless leg syndrome during pregnancy.


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Chapter 1:

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?

In this condition, a person has an urge to shift their leg’s position. It is caused by an uncomfortable itch or sensation. It usually occurs when a person is resting or relaxing. One of the consequences of this condition is that it affects the sleep cycle. It can lead to disturbed sleep routines. Due to this, a person will feel drowsy in the daytime. It can tire you out. Moreover, if the condition goes unnoticed, it can lead to problems such as sleep disorders.

Below is a list of symptoms of the condition.

  1. A strong desire to move your legs. You will want to curl your legs or move them from one place to another. The sensation can be like a tickle or a strong one like a push. Some people may feel a pull sensation. Once you move your legs, you feel relaxed.
  2. These sensations can occur in movie halls or on in-plane rides too. This happens when a person has serious symptoms.
  3. Symptoms get strong by nighttime and people may find it difficult to fall asleep at night. They may wake up several times due to the sensations.
  4. Frequent tossing and turning, flicking of feet, or shaking legs are some common symptoms. These movements can disturb the people you share your bed with.
  5. Some common sensations observed are tickling, crawling movements, creeping sensations, or itching. Other movements include aches, throbbing pain, or electrical sensations.

People with this condition cannot always describe their symptoms well. They find it difficult to explain their problems. Moreover, the sensations are different from feeling numb or cramps.

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Chapter 2:

Pregnancy and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Pregnancy brings emotional and physical changes. Many hormones lead to these changes. Hormonal change is seen as one of the causes of RLS in women. Although the exact cause of RLS during pregnancy is not known, it has been observed that high estrogen levels can cause RLS.

Many women experience fatigue, nausea, or heartburn during pregnancy. However, RLS is also a common symptom. Many studies show that a lack of iron can cause RLS. A lack of folate in the body can disturb the release of dopamine. This chemical plays a role in controlling muscle movements.

The pregnant lady will be most affected. During her pregnancy, she needs enough rest and sleeps for the growth of the fetus. However if she is suffering from the syndrome, it will get difficult for her to get good rest. She will feel tired all day and feel fatigued.

There are chances that the condition is most likely temporary. If the woman has no history of RLS or any genetic predisposition. There are many ways in which restless leg syndrome during pregnancy can be managed.

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Chapter 3:

Managing Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy

There is no definite cause for Restless leg syndrome. However, there are many symptom management methods. Here is a list of them:

Treating Iron-Deficiency Anemia

It is important for a pregnant woman to consume a sufficient amount of iron. The iron intake helps her fetus to develop healthily. The iron required is 3-4 times more than the normal intake. Sufficient folate is also required for healthy development. Many women lack the required amount of iron and folate. Poor women have an even lower intake of iron.

The lack of these two can cause problems. Women should increase their iron intake. Iron and folate supplements are easily available naturally and in the form of tablets. After consultation, women can increase their iron intake. They can rely on natural intakes like spinach and dates. They can take the tablets available.

Consuming Multivitamins

It is very important to consult the doctor before taking any multivitamin. During pregnancy, a mother needs calcium. This helps the baby to develop strong bones. If the fetus doesn’t get enough calcium, it will try to take it from the mother. This is why some women feel bone aches during pregnancy. They suffer from a lack of calcium. This can help in reducing symptoms of restless leg syndrome. Moreover stronger bones prevent fractures during pregnancy. Vitamin E and B12 are important vitamins needed for proper blood circulation during pregnancy.

Exercise

It is important to maintain proper body weight during pregnancy. Women who are obese have very painful restless leg syndrome during pregnancy. Having a healthy body weight is good for the mother as well. It prevents the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack during labor. Women who engage in light exercises have fewer symptoms.

During pregnancy, engage in light exercises that do not impact the fetus. Do not tire your own legs. This can worsen restless leg syndrome during pregnancy, Engage in light walking or water exercises. One can also try some yoga meant for pregnancy or aerobic exercises. These can help in breathing control. Breathing is very much an essential skill during labor.

One can try mild stretches that can strengthen the leg muscles. This can help to reduce symptoms of restless legs syndrome during pregnancy.

Lifestyle Changes

Some lifestyle changes can help you reduce the pain you experience due to restless leg syndrome during pregnancy. These lifestyle changes also help in the development of a healthy fetus. They are

  1. Avoid unhealthy food items such as caffeine or beverages that prevent sleep.
  2. Avoid eating before bedtime. This can cause bloating and keep a pregnant woman alive at night.
  3. Maintain a bedtime routine. This can help to fall asleep peacefully. One can relax by reading a book or taking a hot water shower.
  4. Use a heating pad if the feet feel tired. Pregnancy can lead to sore feet and this can cause pain at the night.
  5. Get a good massage. Pregnancy can be tiresome. Getting a good body massage can help you relax. Massage can help to relieve symptoms of restless leg syndrome during pregnancy.
  6. Speak to the partner or family members about the pain and the symptoms. They can help in sharing the load of the pregnant lady. Pregnancy is a tough time. Women need emotional and mental support. Apart from restless leg syndrome during pregnancy, there are many issues. Family members can help pregnant women deal with them.
Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation can help to reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome during pregnancy. The benefit of this method is that it can be done anywhere. This method involves deep breathing, tensing, and relaxing the muscle groups. For example, you can breathe in, tense the feet muscles by curling the fingers inside, and relax as you breathe out. This can be done for all muscle groups.

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Chapter 4:

Endnote

Restless leg syndrome during pregnancy is in most cases a temporary problem. Once the baby is born, it goes away. The mother has to attend to many needs of the baby. However, it is important to note that this condition can occur in people who are not pregnant. There are many ways of dealing with it and similar to other chronic pain. At Epsychonline, there are courses that help you deal with pain. One such course is called Chronic pain. This course is created by experts. They do a lot of research. There are articles on Restless legs. Do check them out.


"Completed at my own pace, great online learning! " Venus

99 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

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25% discount