Whether you’re pregnant or previously pregnant, you’re no stranger to the many complications that come as part of that. One of these is restless leg syndrome, which is a huge barrier to the quest for rest. Continue reading to know all about restless leg syndrome during pregnancy.
What is Restless Legs Syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome is the uncontrollable habit of moving your leg when you sleep or rest. When you have RLS, you might be feeling a burning, scratching, or crawling sensation in your foot, upper leg, and calf. This normally falls as you lift your legs, but it eventually wakes you out of sleep and can also go back after your leg has moved.
Causes Of Restless Legs Syndrome During Pregnancy
The exact cause of the RLS was not determined by scientists, although many scientists assume it was caused by a few factors.
- Dopamine deficiency, the smooth and even flowing muscle chemicals in the brain.
- Iron deficiency or body folic acid
- The estrogen level in the body is increased
Signs and Symptoms
RLS symptoms are usually uncomfortable in the legs, but can also occur in other areas of the body. The most popular signs of RLS however are,
- The sensation of crawling or burning in the legs
- Itchy feeling in the legs
- Muscle cramps in the calf
- Feeling fidgety in the legs
- Jerking the muscles before falling asleep
- Sleep disturbance due to discomfort or pain
There is no screening procedure for RLS in patients. Doctors can do a blood test to rule out certain conditions. Doctors usually diagnose RLS based on the symptoms your experience experiences with. You will be asked to provide a history of treatment and specifics of any drugs you used that may have caused the disorder. Since it is a common cause of RLS, you might also be tested for iron deficiency.
Treatment Of Restless Legs Syndrome During Pregnancy
If your symptoms are serious, and your sleep disrupts, your doctor can choose the following treatment methods
- Iron supplements: You should be given iron supplements in case you have an iron deficiency.
- Opioid medication: If you don’t respond to iron supplements, some doctors can prescribe opioid medication. But this is only given for a short period of time to avoid the risk of baby withdrawal symptoms.
- Relaxis: This device is approved by the FDA and is only available by prescription.
Treating RLS with medication during pregnancy can be difficult since the medications commonly prescribed for RLS patients have not been tested on pregnant women. Since the effects of medications on the fetus have not been tested, physicians should also refrain from prescribing them.
Prevention Of Restless Leg Syndrome in Pregnancy
While there are no ways to fully avoid the syndrome of restless legs during pregnancy, by making a few lifestyle changes, you can try to reduce the risk of having it.
- Reduce or avoid caffeine: Each day, pregnant women will get about 200 mg of caffeine. Make sure you maintain your consumption of coffee and tea to suit the limit. Caffeine will make RLS symptoms worse, and keep you awake. It’s a safe idea to forgo caffeine altogether, like coffee, all sorts of tea, coke, chocolate, etc. If you consume it, do so within a limited time and stop consuming it later that evening or afternoon.
- Track your dietary intake: Occasionally RLS activates other foods. Hence, keeping track of what you have eaten on the day you encounter symptoms is a smart idea. It is recommended that certain food products be avoided to prevent RLS.
- Daily practice: Everyday exercise will help to reduce RLS. But only do mild exercise that does not make sleeping too difficult for you.
- Sleep well and on time: Set up a night schedule and get plenty of rest and sleep. Also in many women, fatigue can trigger RLS.
Here are just a few simple home remedies that can be used during RLS to relieve discomfort.
- Massage your legs: You should massage your legs or allow a partner to massage your legs to alleviate discomfort if you wake up to RLS. It may also be helpful to use pain-relieving massage oils.
- Temperature changes: when you start having symptoms, use a hot compress or an ice pack to relieve your pain. In the bath, you should dip your legs in warm water too.
- Soak your legs: soak your feet in warm water that contains the salts of Epsom for 30 minutes. Put this on your feet to dry and rub a thin layer of Vicks Vaporub on your feet.
- Banana: bananas are a strong potassium source to deliver nerve impulses and muscles. It is recommended that pregnant women include bananas in their diet.
- Take supplements: you can start taking calcium, iron, or magnesium supplements to relieve RLS with proper consultation with your doctor.
- Relaxing exercises: Try relaxing strategies such as muscle-flexing before sleep. Stretch your legs or flex your ankles as soon as symptoms arise. Before you go to sleep, you can even practice meditation to calm your mind.
Restless leg syndrome is the raw end of the pregnancy bargain, definitely. Yet most women’s consolation is that, if you have an ongoing RLS, most RLSs that are caused by pregnancy are short-lived and will be diminished when you deliver your child.
Also Read: 18 Most Embarrassing Pregnancy Problems