Exercise & Move Your Legs
While it may not eliminate your RLS altogether, studies show that women who exercise during pregnancy experience much lower levels of pain and discomfort from RLS than those who do not.
Exercising gets blood flowing to your legs, and releases endorphins which can counteract RLS. But, you have to be careful about how you exercise.
If you aggravate your muscles too much, your restless leg syndrome will only worsen. So stick to low impact exercises. For example, just getting a long daily walk is all you need. Some other great options arte aerobics, stretching, yoga, etc.
Eat A Banana To Give A Quick Boost In Needed Minerals Such As Potassium Calcium And Magnesium
Potassium is one of three minerals that is critical to muscle function. It plays a critical role in muscle contraction, and nerve conduction. Potassium deficiency can present in fatigued muscles, high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. A few foods high in potassium are bananas, dates, avocados, and potatoes. This is why eating a banana, which provides all three electrolytes, potassium magnesium and calcium can help prevent pregnancy leg cramps.
Rls During Pregnancy: How To Relieve Restless Legs Syndrome
Pregnancy comes with its fair share of annoying symptoms. Morning sickness, insomnia or trouble sleeping, heartburn, and an almost constant urge to use the toilet might already be on your radar. But there is something much more bizarre that you might be dealing with.
The official name is Restless Leg Syndrome , and it involves an uncomfortable feeling of tingling and crawling in your legs and feet. As a result, you might feel the need to keep moving your legs constantly to get rid of the discomfort.
Does any of this sound familiar? If it does, you might be one of the many pregnant people suffering from RLS during pregnancy. Dont worry, though: in this article, we will give you three great tips on how to relieve your restless legs and enjoy a pleasant, healthy pregnancy.
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Tips For When You Wake Up With Restless Legs
If you wake up with restless legs, you might like to try the following to alleviate the symptoms, and hopefully, get back to sleep:
- Massage your legs with magnesium spray or cream
- Use warm or cold compresses on your leg muscles
- Have a warm bath
- Drink some water or herbal teas. Check out our article about helpful varieties of tea during pregnancy.
- Stretch your legs, and walk around
- Try distracting yourself with a book or activity
For most women who develop Restless Leg Syndrome during pregnancy, its only temporary.
Unfortunately, it might be one of those things you have to live with, but usually, it peaks in the last month of pregnancy and disappears not long after the birth of your baby.
If RLS is causing you to struggle due to lack of sleep, speak to your care provider.
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Restless leg syndrome affects about one in five women during pregnancy. RSL is the feeling of needing to move the legs while at rest, and the feeling is relieved by the movement. It is often worse in the last trimester of pregnancy and improves after delivery. For some women it is only a minor discomfort but for other women it can be very disruptive.
Most women will experience RLS for the first time in pregnancy, although women who have had it prior to pregnancy are more likely to have it during pregnancy. The cause of RLS is not clear. Low iron levels is also said to predispose to RLS. It may also be more common in some families.
Improve Your Sleep Environment
Because you will have a hard time sleeping, one thing that you should do is to alter the environment. Make your bedroom more conducive for sleeping. You should also develop a regular sleeping schedule so that your biological clock can get used to it.
You can consider adding diffusers with essential oils that can help you sleep, such as chamomile and lavender. Playing a relaxing music in the background will also help as it can make you feel relaxed. Change your linens into ones that you are more comfortable with.
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Performing Regular Calf Stretches
Stretching the calf muscle may help to prevent or alleviate cramping sensations associated with RLS.
Below are some steps for performing a calf stretch:
Get More Iron In Your Diet
Using your diet to safely correct any iron deficiency can help alleviate RLS symptoms. The catch, Dr. Berkowski says, is knowing what your iron levels are. Iron supplements are certainly one way to get those levels up but youll need to be sure to consult with your doctor about that. If your iron levels are already normal or even too high, more iron wont help you give you those benefits, he adds.
If you are iron deficient, though, there are plenty of healthy ways to get iron through your diet. Eating red meat can really boost iron levels, Dr. Berkowski says, and if youre vegetarian, eating tofu, legumes, lentils and spinach is a way to get that iron.
Other foods that are rich in iron include eggs, fish and nuts, like cashews and almonds.
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How To Ease Pregnancy Leg Cramps
Drinking plenty of water is an easy fix for pregnancy leg cramps, and there are simple steps you can take to top up those essential minerals too.
Guarding against deficiencies through a varied diet is the best way, advises Tina. Bananas are particularly rich in magnesium and potassium, and many pregnant women find that their cramps disappear if they eat plenty of them. Leafy green veg are another good source of magnesium, while potassium is also found in potatoes, sweet potatoes and milk. Increase your calcium levels with plenty of cheese, leafy vegetables, nuts and fish.
A lack of exercise may also contribute to cramp. Walking can help guard against it, as the gentle stretching of your calf muscles prevents the build-up of lactic acid and helps the blood be pumped out of your legs and back to your heart, says Tina.
Pregnancy yoga can also help, as stretching improves blood flow around the body. And try some simple stretches before bed too, such as moving your ankles up and down and from side to side.
Home Remedies For Rls During Pregnancy
Here are a few simple home remedies that can be used to relieve discomfort during RLS.
- Massage your legs: If you wake up to RLS or experience the symptoms, you can massage your legs or ask your partner to massage your legs to relieve the pain. Using pain-relieving massage oils may also be beneficial.
- Temperature changes: When you start having symptoms, use a hot compress or an ice pack to relieve the pain. You can also dip your legs in warm water in the bath.
- Soak your feet: Dissolve some Epsom salt in warm water and soak your feet in it for 30 minutes. Post this, dry your feet and rub a thin layer of Vicks Vaporub on the feet.
- Eat bananas: Bananas are potassium-rich and help send nerve impulses and contract your muscles. Pregnant women are advised to include bananas in their diet.
- Take supplements: With proper consultation with your doctor, you can start taking calcium, iron or magnesium supplements to relieve RLS.
- Relaxation techniques: Try relaxation techniques like flexing your muscles before sleep. Stretch your legs or flex your ankles immediately if you experience symptoms. You can also practice meditation to calm your mind before you go to sleep.
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Try Acupuncture And Massage
If your medical practitioner approves it and your pregnancy is not high risk, you might want to try acupuncture. This involves inserting very fine needles in specific points of the body to help release stress and ease the pain. If you want to try acupuncture, remember to always choose a qualified and reliable therapist.
Alternatively, you can attend some regular sessions of pregnancy massage. This can reduce the discomfort that you might be experiencing at night.
How Can I Get Enough Sleep When I Have Restless Legs Syndrome
It is not necessarily about getting enough sleep, but getting quality sleep, Dr. Kukafka said. With proper diagnosis and treatment, RLS can be treated effectively.
RLS is also linked with depression. Treating depression may help, however, some antidepressants can actually make RLS worse, Dr. Kukafka said. If you have depression and RLS talk to your doctor, a psychiatrist or a sleep medicine specialist to come up with the best treatment plan.
Your RLS symptoms will probably ease up or disappear after your baby is born. And if they dont, there are other medications that can help and that are safe for you to take if youre breastfeeding.
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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.
Do Compression Socks Help With Restless Legs
Put on socks with compression.When used as a treatment for restless leg syndrome, wearing compression socks has a number of advantages, including increasing blood flow and massaging the muscles in the legs.Even a relatively low amount of graded pressure in the range of 15-20 mmHg compression can assist people who suffer from restless leg syndrome with some degree of relaxation and benefit.
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Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
A noninvasive procedure thats typically used to treat depression could be helpful in relieving RLS symptoms. So far, studies have been limited and more research is needed, but the results are promising (4, 41,
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation sends magnetic impulses to certain areas of the brain.
Its not entirely clear why rTMS could help relieve RLS symptoms. One theory is that the impulses increase the release of dopamine in the brain. Another suggests that rTMS could help calm the hyperarousal in parts of the brain that are associated with RLS .
In one 2015 study, 14 people with RLS were given 14 sessions of rTMS over 18 days. The sessions significantly improved their RLS symptoms and improved their sleep. The results lasted for at least two months after the treatment ended .
Surgery For Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are enlarged blood vessels, often in the legs, that overfill with blood. This increased amount of blood can lead to superficial venous insufficiency , which means your body cant properly circulate blood. As a result, the blood pools in your legs.
In a 2008 study, 35 people with SVI and RLS had a procedure called endovenous laser ablation to treat their varicose veins. Of the 35 people, 84 percent of them had their RLS symptoms significantly improved or completely eliminated by the surgery .
Again, more research is needed on this surgery as a treatment for RLS.
If youre interested in any of these less-researched treatments, ask your doctor about them. Of course, you can try hot and cold treatments on your own, but your doctor can tell you more about the other treatments and whether they might be able to help you.
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What Causes Restless Legs When Pregnant
Restless legs syndrome is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move the legs, usually accompanied by an uncomfortable feeling in the legs. The cause of restless legs syndrome is unknown, but it is believed to be related to problems with the central nervous system.
Restless legs syndrome is more common in pregnant women than in the general population, and it can be very troublesome for pregnant women who are already dealing with the many other challenges of pregnancy. There is no cure for restless legs syndrome, but there are treatments that can help lessen the symptoms.
Does Restless Legs Syndrome Stop Once Youve Given Birth
Yes! Because restless legs and pregnancy are closely connected, the condition often disappears within four weeks of giving birth.
But it could even happen much quicker than that.
In the meantime, we hope that these remedies bring you some relief.
And if youre looking to find a community of like-minded legs, chat to other mamas-to-be in the Peanut community. Youre not alone in this.
Wishing you a peaceful night.
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How Is Restless Legs Syndrome Diagnosed
Restless legs syndrome is a disorder that causes an uncomfortable sensation in the legs and an irresistible urge to move them. It can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. Although the cause of restless legs syndrome is unknown, its thought to be related to problems with the nervous system.
Diagnosis of restless legs syndrome can be tricky because its symptoms are similar to those of other conditions, such as iron deficiency anemia, diabetes, and Parkinsons disease. Theres no single test for restless legs syndrome, so your doctor will likely ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. He or she may also order tests to rule out other conditions.
Signs And Symptoms Of Rls
The symptoms of RLS largely show up as uncomfortable sensation in the legs, but they may also be experienced in other parts of the body. However, the most common signs of RLS include:
- Crawling or burning sensation in the legs.
- Itching sensation in the legs.
- Fidgety feeling in the legs.
- Jerking of the limbs while sleeping.
- Sleep disruption due to ache or pain.
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Tips For Improving Circulation While Pregnant
- Try sleeping on your left side.
- Elevate your legs as often as possible literally, find the time to put your feet up and relax if you can.
- At night, place a pillow under or between your legs.
- During the day, stand up and walk around every hour or two especially if you have a job that keeps you at a desk all day.
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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What Is The Treatment For Restless Legs Syndrome
There is no medication to treat the symptoms of RLS during pregnancy. If youve got cramp, you need to stretch your calf muscle to ease the pain, so stand up and push your foot flat so its not arched, says Denyse. Try flexing your leg and ankle until the pain has eased. Gentle massaging with leg cream may relieve the itchy sensation for some women, says Denyse. We like Burts Bees Mama Bee Leg and Foot Crème, £12.99.
If you already suffer from RLS before you get pregnant, think about making preventative measures to stop it becoming worse – lose weight, quit smoking, take up a form of relaxing exercise such as yoga or tai chi. Once pregnant, avoid sitting or standing for extended periods, and if you are on a long journey, get up and walk around at least hourly, says Denyse. If you are standing or sitting at work shift position ever 20 minutes, walk to the loo, make a drink, stand or sit . At night try to ensure that you are relaxed and comfortably warm.
Restless legs syndrome usually disappears completely within four to six weeks of giving birth if its a condition you didnt have before you got pregnant.
Did you have restless leg syndrome? How did you help ease the symptoms? Let us know in the comments box below.
Articles On Restless Legs Syndrome
In some cases, personal habits can make a sleeping disorder like restless legs syndrome worse. Sometimes they play a big role in the problem.
Here are 10 steps you can take to lessen the symptoms of RLS and get you sleeping better:
- Avoid or limit alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine for at least several hours before bedtime.
- Review all the medications you take with your doctor.
- Exercise every day.
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