Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms During Pregnancy
When you have restless leg syndrome, pregnancy can make all the sensations much worse. How do you know if you are just having a bad night, or if you really have RLS? There are a few tell-tale signs that will let you know you have this annoying condition:
- You might feel strange sensations in your legs, such as pulling, creeping, crawling, twinges, tingling and much more.
- An uncontrollable urge to move your legs this gives you relief, but the moment you stop moving, the sensations begin again.
- Rest makes the situation worse, not better when you are moving around, your legs feel better and you might not notice the strange sensations at all.
- The problem is much worse at night. For instance, you might take a nap during the day and be fine, but when you try to sleep at night, RLS acts up.
- You might have cramping and twitching of your legs during sleep. These involuntary movements are associated with periodic limb movement disorder, a condition that often shows up alongside restless leg syndrome.
Avoid These Before Bed
When it comes to what not to consume, Dr. Berkowski lists the four things you should avoid to help ease your RLS symptoms:
These products are all known to trigger RLS symptoms, Dr. Berkowski says.
Additionally, if you have wheat or dairy allergies but still consume those products, that could also be a source of trouble. What and dairy allergies can cause inflammation which, in turn, cause issues with iron absorption, says Dr. Berkowski, so its something to keep in mind.
Restless Legs Syndrome And Nutrition
Many cases of RLS are associated with iron deficiency, which can be treated with iron supplements. These have few side effects apart from stomach complaints and constipation, and they work to reduce symptoms of RLS in many people with low iron and ferritin levels or iron-deficiency anemia. After checking your iron and ferritin levels, your doctor may prescribe iron supplements alone or in conjunction with other medications.
Other vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D may also play a role in RLS. Pregnant women in particular may benefit from folate supplements, while people with kidney problems may benefit from vitamin C and E supplements.
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How Can I Treat Pregnancy
If you suspect you have RLS, its important to mention it to your doctor. Although there is no definitive diagnostic test for the syndrome itself, there are other things that should be ruled out that could be causing it, Grundland says. We might look for an iron deficiency or a thyroid abnormality, she says. If those things are found to be an issue, your OB, midwife or family doctor would then advise you about how to treat those conditions.
Since RLS is more annoying than dangerous, Grundland has never prescribed any medication for it. Its usually just a mild discomfort, she says. And while there are medications out there, none have been systematically tested in pregnancy. Still, she adds, the condition can be disruptive and interfere with your quality of sleep, which means moms-to-be need to find some relief.
If youre experiencing RLS, here are some treatments to try: What you need to know before booking a prenatal massage
Exercise really does help, whether its simple stretches, yoga, walking or swimming, Beaulieu says.
Try taking magnesium to help relax your muscles, suggests Beaulieu. You can take it in supplement form, but talk to your OB or midwife first and get their recommendation about dosage.
If you dont want to take magnesium supplements, you can find it in natural sources such as green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, and legumes including chickpeas and black beans.
Beaulieu also recommends massage therapy.
Foods To Avoid With Restless Leg Syndrome
These foods arent great for any pregnant mama, but they can also worsen RLS symptoms.
- Caffeine: This stimulant can worsen restless leg syndrome symptoms.
- Refined sugar: Sugar depletes minerals in the body, especially magnesium. Without adequate nutrients, muscles and nerves cant function properly which can contribute to RLS.
If symptoms are severe, strategically consuming calcium can also help. Too much calcium can block iron absorption , so its best to avoid eating calcium and iron rich foods together.
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Home Remedies For Restless Legs Syndrome
Home remedies offer a simple way to improve RLS symptoms. Though more research is needed to confirm how effective these methods are, many people with mild to moderate RLS symptoms find relief from a combination of the following:
- Moving the legs: Moving the affected body part usually leads to relief from uncomfortable sensations, though symptoms may return when movement ceases.
- Implementing healthy sleep hygiene habits: RLS can cause sleep loss , but its also exacerbated by sleep problems. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule and ask your doctor for personalized sleep hygiene tips.
- Avoiding tobacco and eating a healthy diet: The Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation recommends reducing alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and salt and following a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals. In addition to relieving RLS symptoms, a healthy diet can help improve sleep quality.
- Exercising: Moderate exercise and stretching may help reduce RLS symptoms. That said, people with RLS should be careful with high-intensity activity, which may cause muscle cramps and stiffness that can exacerbate symptoms.
- Receiving massages or self-massaging: Some people find relief from RLS symptoms after massaging affected areas.
- Using heat or cold: RLS-related discomfort can often be tamed by applying a hot or cold compress or taking a warm bath before bed. Response to temperature may vary from person to person.
Loosen Up With A Massage
Massage, specifically a lower body massage, is one of the best natural remedies for restless leg syndrome. In Sweden, patients were massaged twice a week for 3 weeks, and saw relief from RLS symptoms for at least 2 weeks following the treatment.
Interestingly enough, some women find the greatest relief from foot massages. There are all kinds of connections in our feet to the rest of our body, so it makes sense to assume that stimulating trigger points here can improve blood flow to our legs and decrease RLS symptoms.
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Tips For Coping With Restless Legs Syndrome
Learning to recognize and avoid your personal triggers can help you manage RLS over time.
Effective techniques for minimizing RLS symptoms vary from person to person. Many people find relief from keeping active throughout the day and using acupuncture, massage, stretching, or relaxation techniques at night. During the day, you may be able to ward off RLS symptoms by keeping your mind busy even when you are sitting still with activities like reading or chatting to a friend.
Though RLS is not life-threatening, the frustration of not being able to sleep well can take a toll on mental health. Cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups, or reaching out to family and friends may provide additional emotional resources for coping with RLS.
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Primary Or Idiopathic Rls
Idiopathic means that the cause is unknown.
It is the most common type and has the following characteristics:
- It usually begins before the age of 40.
- It can start as early as childhood.
- It may have a genetic cause.
- Once primary RLS starts, it tends to be lifelong.
Symptoms may be sporadic, or gradually worsen and become more prevalent over time.
In mild cases, the person may have no symptoms for a long time.
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What Are The Signs Of Rls
RLS typically begins in the second trimester, but it can start at any point in your pregnancy, says Carly Beaulieu, a registered midwife and owner of Lucina Midwives in Edmonton. And it can affect each woman differently. You can get cramps, aches, a twitchy feeling, or just feel like you need to stretch or move your legs, she says. It usually happens when youre lying down at night.
Patterson says the syndrome kicked in as soon as she wanted to relax. Its pretty easy to identify because your legs feel like they want to run a marathon, she says. It was very disruptivesometimes it even started on the car ride home from work.
Natural Remedies For Restless Legs Syndrome During Pregnancy
How much is enough?The IRLSSG recommends taking 325 milligrams of ferrous sulfate daily with 250-500 mg of vitamin C on an empty stomach plus 1,000 micrograms of folate, found in many prenatal vitamins.Get your iron and folic acid levels checked as soon as you get pregnant and then every month for the next three months, Hensley says. Dont continue taking iron if you dont need it, because it could lead to iron toxicity, which could interfere with your babys development.”2. Go into pregnancy at an ideal weight.Women who are obese or have excess belly fat before pregnancy are at higher risk of developing restless legs syndrome, according to a 2009 Harvard study conducted on more than 80,000 people with RLS.Women used to think they needed to gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy, but 5 pounds is enough, says Brad Douglas, an OB-GYN with St. Marys Hospital in Richmond, Va.”If youre already overweight or obese, you shouldnt gain any weight, especially if you have RLS.
Finding ways to live with restless legs syndrome instead of fighting it can also reduce symptoms, says the RLS Foundation, which offers these tips:
For more expert advice and information, visit our .
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Indulge Your Legs In A Wonderful Lavender And Cypress Essential Oil Massage
Although iron deficiencies are commonly found in women with RLS, the exact cause is not known. Sometimes, women have restless legs in pregnancy and do not have an iron deficiency.
Currently, there are treatments available using both pharmacological and non-pharmacological drugs. These drugs affect your dopamine levels and can have serious complications and are generally not recommended for pregnancy.
However, you are not out of options! There was a study done that found a safe and effective treatment by using a lavender essential oil massage. The researchers observed no harmful side effects on the study participants!
If you have an extensive oil collection or can grab one more, I also recommend adding a small amount of cypress oil, which aids circulation. If you dont, replace those drops with lavender on its own in the following recipe.
This is How You Create a Massage Blend for Restless Legs in Pregnancy
This is what you need:
Mix these all these ingredients together and massage your legs before you good to bed. Often this provides an effective release of restless leg symptoms.
I have added the oils to a cart for you here so you can purchase them easily.
Curious about using essential oils for pregnancy? check out my article 5 lifechanging ways to use essential oils for pregnancy now.
Why Lavender Oil?
You can read more about the benefits of lavender essential oil in pregnancy in my article The Surprising Truth, You Can Prepare Your Uterus For Birth.
Why Cypress Oil
Things To Do For Twitchy Legs Relief When Pregnant
If youre dealing with unpleasant symptoms and are struggling to sleep, you may be desperate for some relief. The season of expecting can be stressful enough without the added worries that come with Restless Leg Syndrome. Its important to manage symptoms and reduce stress so you can focus on health for Mama and baby.
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Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy
Up to of expecting mothers struggle with restless leg syndrome during pregnancy. Referred to as RLS for short, this condition can be incredibly frustrating, and sometimes debilitating, during your 9 months.
It becomes an even bigger problem when it starts messing with your sleep, as it so often does.
There are lots of ways women try to combat this ailment, with drugs that boost dopamine, anti-epileptic drugs, and even opioids.
But, do these sound safe during pregnancy? Probably not.
Luckily, there are some natural ways you can combat RLS during pregnancy, many of which are super cost effective with no side effects whatsoever.
Well get into those, but first, lets cover what causes restless leg syndrome in the first place.
Symptoms Of Restless Leg Syndrome
RLS may cause strange and unpleasant sensations in your legs. Some people describe it as a pulling, throbbing, irritating, or painful feeling. It also causes a powerful, sometimes uncontrollable, urge to move your legs.
Symptoms occur during long periods of inactivity. For example, you may notice them while youre traveling, sitting in a movie theater, or trying to sleep.
They can also make it almost impossible to get a good nights rest. This can leave you feeling fatigued, adding to the other discomforts of your third trimester of pregnancy.
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Take A Prenatal Supplement
A folate-rich prenatal vitamin is necessary for preventing certain birth defects in baby, but it may also help RLS symptoms. Folate and iron help the body produce the hormone dopamine, which then helps muscles and nerves function right.
To make sure baby gets the nutrition they need, take a vitamin with folate, not folic acid. Heres a list of my favorite prenatal vitamins.
Symptoms Of Restless Legs Syndrome
The main symptom of restless legs syndrome is an overwhelming urge to move your legs.
It can also cause an unpleasant crawling or creeping sensation in the feet, calves and thighs.
The sensation is often worse in the evening or at night. Occasionally, the arms are affected, too.
Restless legs syndrome is also associated with involuntary jerking of the legs and arms, known as periodic limb movements in sleep .
Some people have the symptoms of restless legs syndrome occasionally, while others have them every day.
The symptoms can vary from mild to severe. In severe cases, restless legs syndrome can be very distressing and disrupt a person’s daily activities.
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Why We Should Not Eat Banana At Night
But as per Ayurveda, banana can lead to mucus production and eating this fruit at night can choke your throat. Apart from this, banana is a heavy fruit and our stomach takes a lot of time to digest it. This is because our metabolism is the lowest at night. Eating bananas at night might lead to stomach issues.
What Can I Do About Restless Legs Syndrome During Pregnancy
Though this is one pregnancy symptom you kind of have to wait out if you experience it, there are some ways to get relief:
Get some ZZZs. Even though RLS is notorious for keeping expectant moms up at night, fatigue will make your symptoms worse. On the other hand, you might not want to force yourself to stay in bed during an RLS episode. Instead, get up and slowly walk down the hallway a few times. This gentle movement can help ease the discomfort.
Distract yourself. When your feet starting jumping on their own, grab a crossword puzzle, immerse yourself in your favorite rom com, start knitting…anything to distract yourself from the annoying symptoms of RLS.
Keep a food journal. Note what you’ve eaten before you experience bouts of RLS. Some women find that certain foods such as carbs eaten late in the day can trigger restless legs, and you may be able to figure out what foods make your symptoms improve or worsen.
Get tested. Ask your practitioner about being tested for iron-deficiency anemia, which some experts think is linked to RLS. In the meantime, it never hurts to fill up on iron-rich, heart-healthy foods like spinach, beans, chickpeas and dried fruit.
Heat it up. Sometimes a warm bath or a heating pad or ice pack can bring relief.
Try acupuncture. With your practitioners green light, going under the needle may help for some women, as can yoga, meditation or other relaxation techniques.
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Check Your Prenatal Vitamin For Folate Vs Folic Acid
It was once thought that there was no difference between folate and the synthetic version of this nutrient, folic acid. Mistakenly, many prenatal vitamins still contain the synthetic version which can actually interfere with the absorption of certain minerals. If you look at the ingredient list on your vitamin bottle and it says folic acid, I would highly recommend reconsidering and taking a different vitamin. You can see a wonderful explanation of what to look for in a prenatal vitamin on Mama Naturals blog here.
What Is Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless Legs Syndrome in pregnancy is a creeping feeling in the legs that makes your legs move around whether you want them to or not. Sometimes you cant stop your legs from moving around, even if you are trying to. It is a feeling of not being able to keep your legs still. It often strikes at night and keeps you up more than your baby will.
One good thing is that Restless Leg Syndrome almost always resolves itself and disappears after you deliver your baby. It wont be around forever.
But when your legs wont stop moving, when it feels like ants are crawling up and down them, and when you just want to be able to sleep, know that there are things you can do to find relief.
This article will help you understand why restless legs in pregnancy are so common and what you can do about it.
If you are still having trouble sleeping after resolving your restless legs, make sure to check out my article on How To Get More Sleep Even If Youre Pregnant.
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