Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) can effect 1 in 5 pregnant women, I experienced it daily during my pregnancy and it drove me mad! So what exactly is RLS and what can be done to relieve the symptoms?
I’ve experienced RLS since I was a child, I occasionally have an overwhelming urge to move my legs, often whilst I’m lying in bed trying to sleep. The sensation sometimes keeps me up for hours. Once I became pregnant this sensation increased and I experienced the symptoms daily.
About 1 in 5 pregnant women will experience [RLS] symptoms in the last 3 months of their pregnancy, although it’s not clear exactly why this is. In such cases, restless legs syndrome usually disappears after the woman has given birth. (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/restless-legs-syndrome/)
Although RLS in pregnancy usually occurs during the last 3 months, if you experienced RLS pre pregnancy, your symptoms are likely to increase and become frequent throughout your pregnancy.
So what actually is RLS?
RLS, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, is a neurological disorder characterised by an irresistible urge to move to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. As it usually interferes with sleep, it is also considered a sleep disorder. (https://www.rls-uk.org/what-is-rls)
Symptoms are often described as:
- tingling, burning, itching or throbbing
- a “creepy-crawly” feeling
- feeling like fizzy water is inside the blood vessels in the legs
- a painful cramping sensation in the legs, particularly in the calves
Tips to relieve symptoms:
RLS was my worst pregnancy ailment, it made me feel really uncomfortable. If you are experiencing RLS try some of these ideas to relieve your symptoms. Rubbing tiger balm on my legs worked best for me.
- Getting up and stretching your legs.
- Walking (I paced the bedroom in the middle of the night).
- Stretching your feet and toes.
- Massaging your legs (get your partner to do this if possible).
- Gently pinching your legs.
- Use hot or cold packs.
- Put your feet into a bowl of cool water.
- Keep your room cool, or sleep with your legs out of the covers to keep them cool.
- Practice relaxation techniques.
- Rub tiger balm on affected area before you go to sleep.
HELP! It’s driving me mad!
If you find that you are really suffering from RLS or are experiencing pain, don’t just put up with it – speak to your midwife or GP.
From my experience I can tell you that the minute I gave birth the sensations stopped. But again, if you continue to suffer postnatally, speak to your GP or midwife.