Restless Leg Syndrome

Nearly a third of pregnant women experience restless legs syndrome (RLS); people who have restless legs syndrome describe it as an “itchy,” “pulling,” “burning,” “creepy-crawly” feeling that gives them an overwhelming urge to move their legs. Once they do move their legs, the feeling often subsides. But by then the movement has already woken them up. RLS in pregnancy might be triggered by a lack of enough folic acid or iron. There’s also some evidence that rising estrogen levels during pregnancy may contribute to RLS. Trying to calm your restless legs all night can make you sleepy and irritable during the day. Your doctor will 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 isn’t that severe, try making some simple changes to your routine. These lifestyle changes have been shown to not only reduce the symptoms of restless legs syndrome, but they’re also good for your pregnancy in general: Avoid drinking coffee, soda, and other caffeinated beverages. Exercise every day, but stop within a couple of hours of bedtime so you don’t get too wound up to sleep. Get into a regular sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, if you can. Before bed, relax with a warm bath or by snuggling up in bed with a good book. Whenever you wake up with RLS, try these tips to make the gnawing feeling go away so you can get back to sleep: Massage your legs, apply a warm or cold compress to your leg muscles, get up and walk or stretch your legs, read or watch TV to distract yourself. Restless legs syndrome usually will resolve after giving birth. Within a few days after your baby is born it will most likely disappear. That’s good news, because new moms will soon have much more pressing things to attend to in the middle of the night.

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