Help With Restless Leg Syndrome When Pregnant

Tired of trying to cope with restless leg syndrome when pregnant?

If you’re struggling with restless leg syndrome (RLS) during pregnancy, you’re not alone.

Help With Restless Leg Syndrome When Pregnant

It’s estimated that up to one in five pregnant women experience RLS. The good news is that there are things you can do to get relief.

First, it’s important to understand what RLS is and what causes it. RLS is a neurological disorder that causes an irresistible urge to move your legs. This urge is often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations like burning, tingling, or crawling.

There isn’t one specific cause of RLS during pregnancy, but it’s thought to be related to changes in hormone levels and iron deficiency.

Iron is important for the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate movement. During pregnancy, your iron needs to be more than double.

If you’re not getting enough iron from your diet, your body can’t produce enough dopamine, which may lead to RLS.

There are a few things you can do to ease the symptoms of restless leg syndrome when pregnant:

Get regular exercise

Exercise can help improve circulation and reduce stress, both of which may help relieve RLS symptoms.

Recommended exercises include walking, swimming, and gentle stretching.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol can make RLS worse, so it’s best to avoid them if you’re struggling with the condition. Try to limit caffeinated beverages to no more than 200 mg per day. That’s about the amount in one cup of coffee.

Get enough iron

If you’re pregnant and have RLS, your doctor may recommend taking an iron supplement. They may also recommend eating foods that are high in iron, such as leafy green vegetables, legumes, and iron-fortified cereals.

Don’t smoke

Smoking can make RLS worse, so quitting is the best way to reduce your symptoms. There are many resources available to help you quit smoking.

Rest

If you suffer from restless leg syndrome when pregnant, getting plenty of rest is important for managing RLS during pregnancy. When you can, take naps or put your feet up to help reduce symptoms.

Eat a balanced diet

Eating a diet that’s rich in iron-rich foods can help ease RLS symptoms.

Some good food includes dark leafy greens, legumes, and fortified cereals.

Take a warm bath

Soaking in a warm tub can help relax your muscles and ease restless leg syndrome when pregnant. You could also try applying a heating pad to your legs for relief.

Massage your legs

Gently massaging your legs can help relieve discomfort from RLS. You can also try rubbing lotion or oil into your legs to help reduce symptoms.

Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome

Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome

There isn’t one specific cause of restless leg syndrome when pregnant, but it’s thought to be related to changes in hormone levels and iron deficiency.

Iron is important for the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate movement. During pregnancy, your iron needs to be more than double.

If you’re not getting enough iron from your diet, your body can’t produce enough dopamine, which may lead to RLS.

Other causes include :

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can contribute to restless leg syndrome when pregnant.

Iron deficiency

Iron is important for the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate movement. During pregnancy, your iron needs are increased. If you’re not getting enough iron from your diet, it can lead to RLS.

Genetic factors

If you have a family history of RLS, you may be more likely to experience it during pregnancy.

Stress

Stress can worsen RLS symptoms. You can limit this by getting regular exercise and enough rest.

What Are the Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome?

What Are the Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome

The main symptom of restless leg syndrome when pregnant is an irresistible urge to move your legs. This urge is often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations like burning, tingling, or aching.

RLS symptoms can vary in severity. They may be barely noticeable or so severe that they interfere with sleep.

Symptoms usually occur at night and are worse when you’re lying down. They may also happen during the day, especially if you’ve been sitting for a long time.

When to See a Doctor

If you think you may have RLS, make an appointment to see your doctor. RLS can be diagnosed with a simple physical exam and a discussion of your symptoms.

Your doctor may also order blood tests to check for iron deficiency or other underlying conditions.

Treating restless leg syndrome during pregnancy can be tricky. If your symptoms are mild, home treatment may be all you need.

If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe medication. Medications used to treat RLS include dopaminergic drugs, anticonvulsants, and opioids.

synergy research centers restless legs syndrome infographic

Dopaminergic drugs are the most common treatment for RLS. These drugs work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Examples of dopaminergic drugs include rotigotine (Neupro) and pramipexole (Mirapex).

Anticonvulsants are sometimes used to treat RLS. These drugs work by stabilizing nerve cell activity. Examples of anticonvulsants include gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica).

Opioids are sometimes used to treat severe RLS symptoms. These drugs work by reducing pain signals in the brain. Examples of opioids include oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin).

If you’re pregnant, you should only take medications for RLS if they’ve been prescribed by your doctor.

Risk Factors for Restless Leg Syndrome

There are a few things that may make you more likely to experience restless leg syndrome when pregnant:

Being pregnant with twins or triplets

Carrying more than one baby increases your risk of RLS.

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which there’s a decrease in the number of red blood cells. Anemia can cause iron deficiency, which may lead to RLS.

Kidney disease

Kidney disease can also cause iron deficiency, which may lead to RLS.

How Can I Prevent Restless Leg Syndrome?

How Can I Prevent Restless Leg Syndrome

There are a few things you can do to prevent or reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome:

  • Get regular exercise
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Get enough iron in your diet
  • Take a hot bath or use a heating pad
  • Massage your legs
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing
  • Use proper pillow support when you sleep

Conclusion: Restless Leg Syndrome When Pregnant

If you’re pregnant and think you may have restless leg syndrome, make an appointment to see your doctor.

RLS can be diagnosed with a simple physical exam and a discussion of your symptoms.

Your doctor may also order blood tests to check for iron deficiency or other underlying conditions.