What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome In Pregnancy

Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy

How can I relieve restless leg syndrome during pregnancy?

Restless leg syndrome or RLS is a strange, creepy-crawly feeling that you might get in your legs, especially at night. You may find it hard to fall asleep and want to move your legs non-stop to alleviate that strange feeling. Unfortunately, restless leg syndrome gets worse during pregnancy. If you have never had restless leg syndrome, pregnancy might trigger it. Fortunately, there are many options that you can try to alleviate the sensation and help you sleep.

How To Deal With Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy

When you have restless leg syndrome, pregnancy can make it bad enough to drive you out of bed in the middle of the night, making you irritable from lack of sleep. The good thing is that you might be able to pinpoint the things that make RLS worse, and perhaps alleviate at least some of the itchy, crawly feeling. Here are some suggestions that might help:

1. Mind the Medication You Take

Remember that many medications that might be suitable to battle RLS are not suitable for pregnancy or vice versa. For instance, although quinine is often helpful to treat restless leg syndrome, pregnancy may make that much complicated because its safety during pregnancy is yet to be proved. So never take this without your doctor’s permission. Some medications, like some antihistamines, might be used to treat allergy and cold during pregnancy, but can actually make RLS worse.

2. Quit Caffeine

Even a single cup of coffee can make your restless leg syndrome much worse. Avoid caffeine entirely, even during the morning, and see if that helps.

3. Avoid Long-Time Stillness

The longer you stay in one position, the more likely you are to experience the symptoms. Try avoiding watching television or reading in bed, or doing similar activities that keep you very still for a long period of time. Go to bed only when you are ready to go to sleep.

4. Take Supplements

5. Exercise Regularly and Properly

6. Try Other Measures to Soothe Your Condition

How Common Is Restless Leg Syndrome

RLS affects approximately 1 in 10 people , but is much more common in pregnant women.

Restless leg syndrome during pregnancy affects nearly one-third of women by their third trimester.

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Restless Legs Syndrome In Pregnancy: Home Remedies

Here are a few home remedies you can try to ease your symptoms and help you get some much-needed rest:

  • Get regular exercise. Walking, dancing, and swimming are all great options.
  • Stretch your legs. Do some stretches or yoga before you get into bed. Or if symptoms hit as youre lying down, get up and walk around for a few minutes.
  • Turn up the heat. Place heating pads on your legs, or try taking a hot bath before bed . Alternatively
  • Cool things down. Soak your feet in a cold bath or apply an ice pack to your legs, as this could provide some relief.
  • Do some relaxation exercises. Try deep breathing, a body scan meditation, or a mindfulness exercise.
  • Massage your legs. You can do this yourself or ask your partner or a friend for a helping hand. Or see if a regular appointment with a massage therapist eases your symptoms.
  • Distract yourself. Get your mind off your legs by doing something you find fun and interesting. Could be reading, knitting, building a ship in a bottlewhatever works.

Does Restless Legs Syndrome Stop Once Youve Given Birth

rls remedies #rls #remedies

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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What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy

When it comes to restless leg syndrome, pregnancy can trigger it for the first time or make an existing case much worse. But why does pregnancy have such an effect? Scientists aren’t exactly sure, but there are theories. The problem might be caused by a lack of a certain vitamin or mineral in the diet, or an imbalance of dopamine in the brain. When you are pregnant, the problem can be exacerbated by rising estrogen levels, low amounts of iron or folic acid in the body, or the circulatory changes that occur during those nine months. It is no coincidence that when the pregnancy is over, restless leg syndrome often goes away with it.

How Can I Sleep With Leg Pain During Pregnancy

As a pregnant woman, you may find that sleeping is more difficult than ever. Leg pain can make it hard to get comfortable and can keep you up at night. Here are a few tips to help you sleep with leg pain during pregnancy:

  • Place a pillow between your legs to keep them separated and provide support.
  • Elevate your feet with a pillow or by placing them on a chair.
  • Use a heating pad on your lower back and legs or take a hot bath before bed.
  • Stretch your muscles before bedtime. Hamstring stretches are especially helpful.

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Iron Folate And Ferritin Deficiency

Have you been taking your prenatal vitamins? If not, you should be! Yet another cause of dysfunctional dopamine signaling is iron deficiency, a common condition in pregnancy.

Low iron levels in the fluid around the brain have been detected in people suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome, although this doesnt always show in ferritinthe level of iron stores in the body.

Folate is a B-vitamin that is extremely important during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects. Some research has also identified a link between folate and RLS and folate supplementation appears to help reduce symptoms.

Why Does It Get Worse When Youre Pregnant

Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy: How to Cope

During pregnancy, RLS can become worse because you are more deficient in folic acid and iron. Other studies suggest that the increase in estrogen pregnant women experience may play a role.

Whatever the case, one thing is for sure – you need to find a way to beat RLS. It not only makes your pregnancy more miserable through lack of sleep and discomfort, it also makes you extremely irritable.

Plus, some studies even show that women who experience restless leg syndrome during pregnancy are likely to have longer labor, and are more likely to need a C-section.

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Sleep Hygiene For Restless Legs Syndrome

Sleep hygiene is important, as tiredness makes symptoms worse.

Tips include:

  • Sleeping in a cool, quiet bedroom.
  • Going to bed at the same time every night, and getting up at the same time every morning.
  • Reduce the amount of light you are exposed to for an hour before bed.
  • Avoid stimulating drinks, such as caffeine or sugar.
  • Avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption and tobacco.

Exercise and physical activity can help RLS, but it can also aggravate it. Most patients find moderate exercise helpful, but too much can make symptoms worse. Working out late in the evening may also be unhelpful.

Restless Leg Syndrome When Pregnant

Restless Leg Syndrome is a condition characterized by a tingling in the legs and a constant need to move them. Although RLS can occur in all people, many pregnant women are susceptible to RLS, particularly if they were already affected prior to becoming pregnant, or have a family history of Restless Leg Syndrome.

What causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

Nobody knows for certain what causes RLS, but its higher incidence in pregnant women is documented. Because of this, many researchers believe it could be caused by deficiencies in iron or folate, as well as dietary changes. Fluctuating hormones and constrained blood flow to the lower half could also be explanations.


Drugs that are prescribed to treat RLS in non-pregnant people may not be safe to take while carrying Baby. Instead, try adding more iron or folate to your diet, and take a nice hot bath. Cold packs might also help alleviate the aggravation, as could some good, regular exercise. Restless legs, and leg pain in general during pregnancy, will probably go away soon after delivery, so this is one of those symptoms that you might just have to sit tight, and wait for it to disappear.

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
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When Does Restless Leg Syndrome Go Away During Pregnancy

While restless leg syndrome is an unfortunate, frustrating reality of pregnancy, the good news is it isnt forever. Even if you cant find great relief from it during your 9 months, you can rest assured its only temporary.

In most cases, women found complete relief from the condition within a few days of delivery. In some instances, it can take up to four weeks after delivery for the symptoms to subside.

In general though, you can expect RLS to subside shortly after the birth of your little one.

Still, there are ways to alleviate symptoms.

Restless Legs During Pregnancy

Handling Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy

Restless legs in pregnancy is a problem that will affect nearly a third of all pregnant women. People with restless legs describe the sensations as itching and burning. It can feel like something is crawling along your leg and the only way to get relief is to move your legs. These feelings can set it at any time but they are more common at night and may be severe enough to wake a person up and disrupt sleep.

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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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Is Rls Bad For Pregnancy

While RLS can be uncomfortable and may hamper sleep, it does not cause any adverse effects on the fetus or the mother during pregnancy. However, pregnant women with RLS may also experience periodic limb movements of sleep , nocturnal leg cramps, and sleepiness during the day.

Some women may have insomnia due to RLS. Sleep duration and sleep quality could influence maternal mental health, the type of delivery, length of labor, the neonates APGAR scores, and birth weight.

In rare cases, women with RLS may be at a higher risk of developing pregnancy complications such as abortion, premature labor, difficult delivery, preeclampsia, and intrauterine growth retardation .

Tips For When You Wake Up With Restless Legs

What is Restless Leg Syndrome? (Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments)

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 Legs In Pregnancy

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.

RLS is one of the most common reason of sleep disturbance during pregnancy . It can affect getting to sleep and also staying asleep. Poor sleep quality may lead daytime sleepiness and poor daytime function, and mood disorders.

RLS usually increases in frequency and severity as pregnancy progresses, peaking about 30-36 weeks gestation. For most women, it will resolve completely or mostly immediately after delivery.

A pregnancy woman with RLS will give a typical story of

  • an urge to move her legs, sometimes with an uncomfortable feeling in the legs
  • the urge is worse with rest
  • it increases at night
  • it is relieved by activity or movement

If these features are described no further tests are required to make the diagnosis, although iron studies may be made to exclude underlying anaemia as a cause.

Possible Triggers Of Restless Legs Syndrome

  • Caffeine. Think coffee, tea, some sodas, energy drinks, and chocolate. Stick to a maximum of 200 mg caffeine per day while youre pregnant.
  • Smoking.Smoking is best avoided while youre pregnant to keep you and your baby healthy.
  • Drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can lead to serious complications with your pregnancy, so its safest to steer clear.
  • Food triggers. Keep a food diary to see if any particular foods make your symptoms worse .
  • Certain medications. Antidepressants, antihistamines, beta-blockers, and some antiepileptic drugs could be causing your restless legs.

Important: Dont stop taking any medication without discussing the situation with your doctor first.

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When Can I Expect My Restless Legs Syndrome To End

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

Symptoms Of Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome while Pregnant: Causes, Home Remedies &  more

The primary complaint of women with RLS is the overwhelming urge to move the legs. Pregnant women may generally describe the unpleasant sensation in the legs as :

These sensations are worse below the knee and may also be painful at times. Some women complain of the symptoms getting worse when they rest and feel better when they walk. The symptoms might worsen in the evening or at night. RLS may make it difficult for the affected woman to get a good nights sleep.

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Treating Rls While Pregnant

If your symptoms are severe enough to interrupt your sleep night after night, you’ll probably want to see your doctor to get RLS treated. That can be challenging during pregnancy.

Most drugs typically used to treat restless legs syndrome, such as Requip and Mirapex , have not been studied extensively in pregnant women. So there is not enough data to determine all potential risks for a developing fetus.

Before you take any medicine for restless legs syndrome, your doctor should check your iron levels. If you’re low, you can take an iron supplement. In many cases where the supply of iron in the body is low a supplement will be enough to correct RLS.

If your RLS symptoms still don’t go away after an iron deficiency has been found and treated, some doctors prescribe opioid medication. Because of a risk of withdrawal symptoms in a newborn, opioids are typically given for a short period of time.

Also, the FDA has approved a device for treating RLS. Relaxis is the name of the vibrating pad placed under the legs while you’re in bed. It is available only by prescription.


What Is Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome affects the nerves in the leg and causes sensations like itching, burning, or a creepy crawly feeling. The symptoms can be difficult to describe, since they stem from the nerves, not the muscles.

Unlike leg cramps that are generally sharp and seize the muscle, restless leg syndrome causes an allover uncomfortable feeling that gives you a strong urge to move the legs, especially at night.

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What Causes Rls In Pregnancy

There are many unanswered questions for why restless legs syndrome crops up in pregnant women and not others. It may be caused by low iron levels or a vitamin deficiency. Other suggestions for RLS during pregnancy include genetic predisposition, high estrogen levels, compressed nerves, or changes in dopamine levels in the brain.2,3

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