Birthzang’s guide to relieving restless legs in pregnancy

by | Apr 2, 2015 | Pregnancy

It’s late. You’re tired. You’ve been at work all day and you are ready to drop, and you are pretty fed up of being pregnant now even though you’ve still got months to go! And then your foot twitches, it feels a bit funny, oh no here it goes again! Experiencing restless legs in pregnancy is one of the really annoying symptoms you can get.

If you have never experienced it, it is hard to describe and doesn’t sound that bad, but it can drive you up the wall and have a real impact on your sleep.

It is a real condition known as Restless Legs Syndrome and can affect your arms as well in some cases.

What do restless legs in pregnancy feel like?

It feels as if you have an itch or some kind of sensation that means you need to move your legs. It is an urge, a need, a bit like a twitch but it doesn’t happen spontaneously: you have to consciously move to relieve it.

Restless legs in pregnancy can happen once or twice, or go on for hours and can be incredibly frustrating.

What can you do to relieve restless legs in pregnancy?

Birthzang restless legs in pregnancy 1There does seem to be some consensus on how to treat restless legs in pregnancy, although there is no clear “cure” so you have to try and see what works for you.

1. Vitamin & mineral deficiencies

There is much agreement that vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause this irritating condition. In particular Magnesium, but also Iron and Vitamin B12 are thought to play a part.

To increase your magnesium and iron levels cut out caffeine, sugar, alcohol either completely or certainly in the evenings (if you get RLS at night). These foods prevent your body from absorbing the minerals properly and this may contribute to restless legs in pregnancy.

Also, you can increase your magnesium and iron levels by eating plenty of food rich in them. Here are links to foods high in Magnesium, Iron and Vitamin B12. There is always the option of food supplements, although a good idea to take advice from a nutritionist or GP to ensure you are taking the right levels and that whatever you are consuming is OK for pregnancy.

You can also have Epson Salt Baths that can help your body’s magnesium levels increase, and use magnesium oil for massage (see number 2).

Birthzang restless legs in pregnancy 22. Massage and manipulation

A great way to relieve restless legs in pregnancy, at the time it is happening, is to massage (or better still, get your partner to massage) your legs, hips and buttocks. In fact, massage of the glutes (buttocks) and lower back can also help relieve tension that can contribute to restless legs in pregnancy.

Massage with magnesium oil can also help achieve number 1, and I’ve heard geranium oil is good as well, although not sure why! I would have thought any relaxing oil would work just as well.

Other remedies include pushing your feet against a cold wall, or my own personal favourite – jam your feet and legs in between something that applies pressure. I used to jam my feet in between the mattress and the side of the bed, or under my husband’s body!

There is also some success with really stretching your muscles for a good 10 mins before bed, with some vigorous massage to really stimulate them and work out any stress.

3. Keep well hydrated

Keeping well hydrated is also important, and a good idea to drink mineral water rather than tap to ensure you are getting all the good stuff. Beware of drinking too much caffeine, soda water and fizzy drinks as too much can give you leg cramps at night instead, or as well!

 

Natural Ways to Induce Labour – your guide to myths and facts about childbirth induction without drugs

 So many women feel fed-up at the end of their pregnancy. On the one hand, you feel as if you have been pregnant for 6 million years and frankly another day is too much! On the other hand, you feel really sure that you want to let things happen as naturally as...

10 tips for practising yoga in pregnancy

Yoga in pregnancy is really beneficial whether you are a complete beginner, or have a long-standing practice. It is highly advisable to find a yoga class for pregnancy as it will be tailored to the needs of your body in pregnancy, and also help prepare you...

No, your birth is not like running a bloody marathon!

People who have had a baby understand that approaching labour in blissful ignorance with zero preparation does not put you in the best position to facilitate an amazing birth. Don’t get me wrong, you can absolutely birth with no preparation, but in my...

How learning about drugs can help you have a natural birth

Most pregnant women I meet want a natural birth. OK, there are always some people who believe that they have a zero tolerance of pain and fully intend to get all the drugs as soon as they go into labour. And I fully applaud them. Regardless of your choices knowing...

Helping Birth – your guide to pain relief choices and interventions

There are a thousand books on how to have a natural birth with different techniques and methods. Very few of them address the reality that over 50% of mothers in the UK have some form of intervention or birth pain relief in childbirth, and the number is much higher in...

Get this baby out now! A guide to birth interventions

What are birth interventions. On the whole, birth interventions are not usually planned for in early pregnancy. However, the two major interventions many parents face are an induction of labour or caesarean. In many cases, birth interventions are required for medical...

Birthzang restless legs in pregnancy 44. Go to bed on time

My restless legs would start at 10pm on the DOT. If I went to bed at 9.55pm I’d be fine, but at exactly 10pm my foot would start twitching and escalate to the whole leg and that would be it for the next couple of hours.

Some say keep cool at night, some say keep your feet warm so I guess this is down to trial and error but natural fibre bedding, ie, feather duvet, will help you to regulate your body temperature.

5. Chiropractic or osteopathy

Restless legs in pregnancy could be an indication of lower back or pelvic stiffness and so seeing a chiropractor or osteopath who specialises in pregnancy could well help to ensure this isn’t a contributing factor.

All in all, this isn’t a fully-understood condition but thankfully for most people, it goes after pregnancy. Not helpful to know when you are lying awake in bed at night but apart from doing your head in, at least it is not causing you any harm.

References

https://draxe.com/magnesium-deficient-top-10-magnesium-rich-foods-must-eating/

www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/food-sources-of-iron.php

www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-vitamin-B12.php

www.rls-uk.org/#!rls–pregnancy/cohq

 

 

 

 


Helping Birth

In my book, Helping Birth: Your guide to pain relief choices and interventions in labour and childbirth with real stories, I go into great detail about all labour pain relief choices and common birth interventions. I use the BRAIN framework (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Implications, Nothing) to look at each option's pro's and cons, to help you understand which choices are right for you and your baby.

helping birth eleanor hayes

I discuss what each option is, what it feels like and what happens, discuss the risks and benefits, and give advice as to what you can do to minimise complications if you choose these drugs or procedures.

There is an insight to help you understand risks and statistics around birth, and also things that may happen to you or your baby such as continuous monitoring, and immediate cord clamping.

Each of the 25 chapters has women's real-life stories and experiences to enhance your understanding of what it is really like to experience these labour pain relief choices or birth interventions.

Buy the book for £10 on Amazon (free delivery in the UK).


 

5 Ways to Cope with Morning Sickness (and afternoon and night)

How to Keep Your Pelvic Floor Toned in Pregnancy

DON'T say this to someone who has had a Miscarriage (but say THIS instead)

Helping Birth - my new book on pain relief & interventions

Pin It on Pinterest