Restless Legs While Pregnant

Updated January 2021
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Roughly a third of pregnant women end up getting restless leg syndrome. Whether it's a result of an iron deficiency or not enough blood getting to the legs because it's going to the baby, this condition can severely impact your sleep. Fortunately, it's a temporary symptom that should go away shortly after you give birth.

What is restless legs syndrome (RLS)?

Restless leg syndrome is a health condition where you feel a burning, itching, or crawling sensation in your legs. This creates an uncontrollable urge to move around. It's most likely to strike when you're lying down in bed or sitting in a chair. Often times, moving is the only way to get relief. During pregnancy, you may experience nausea and increased fatigue. Unfortunately, RLS is just another potential symptom. And without treatment, you feel groggy and sluggish the next day.

What causes restless legs in pregnancy?

Researchers still aren't entirely sure why RLS is so common during pregnancy. What's even stranger is that it appears RLS is more likely to occur during the first or third trimesters. But there may be underlying factors that increase your chances of getting it in the first place.

  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Iron deficiency
  • Dietary or environmental factors
  • Anxiety or depression

What are things I can do to relieve my restless legs?

RLS doesn't affect the baby's development. But it makes a stressful time all the more difficult on you when you can't go to sleep. Fortunately, there are ways you can lower your risk of dealing with RLS with a few simple tricks.

  • Take a warm bath - The heat from the bath improves circulation within your legs. It's also a good way to unwind after a stressful day.
  • Maintain a food journal - It's possible for certain foods to trigger an RLS outbreak. Monitor what you eat and take note of when you experience restless legs. You may just find that cutting certain meals out of your diet help tremendously.
  • Take iron supplements - When you experience RLS, you should take an iron test to determine if you have a deficiency. If you do, then you're best off taking supplements to try to improve your health. It's often good to take these kinds of supplements during pregnancy anyway.
  • Try yoga - You should get your primary practitioner's permission before starting any new exercise regimen during pregnancy. Fortunately, yoga and meditation consist of light exercises that help get blood pumping to help relieve symptoms.

Will a new mattress help with restless legs?

Even if you don't have RLS, there are various other factors of pregnancy that impact your sleep. Nausea and heartburn can keep you up for hours. And you're not doing yourself any favors by continuing to sleep on an old, lumpy mattress.

An uncomfortable mattress causes you to toss and turn. You just can't get comfortable. Combined with nauseous feelings, you may only get a few hours of sleep a night. You need to feel your best during the day, and a new mattress may be precisely what you need.

When can I expect my restless legs syndrome to end?

Luckily, restless legs during pregnancy isn't permanent. One study found that 97 percent of pregnant women noted complete relief of RLS symptoms a few days after giving birth. Even if it lasts longer than that, it should all be over within a few weeks.

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