Restless Leg Syndrome is a known condition among the older generation, however, another group of suffers is also at the mercy of the discomfort caused by RLS. According to studies up to 20 percent of pregnant women will develop restless leg syndrome symptoms temporarily, or put another way are two or three times more likely to develop RLS usually during the last few months of their pregnancy.
While the reason is not known for certain there are several theories as to why RLS affects pregnant women. Among the causes are iron or folate deficiencies, often brought on by pregnancy, hormonal changes and circulatory changes. Each of these is common during pregnancy, so no one symptom is unique or uncommon.
What to Avoid
Also, for some, eating sugary foods before bed, or if legs got cold RLS symptoms can became worse. Doctors are right to tell pregnant women to refrain from caffeine and smoking while pregnant, RLS may be one more reason why this is important, as they tend to make the symptoms more intense. Sleep issues in general begin to evolve when pregnancy begins, due to the numerous physical and emotional changes happening, as well as difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position.
It is at this time that RLS will begin or worsens, if the patient has had RLS symptoms in the past. These lifestyle changes, when looked at as a whole reinforce the idea of leading a healthy lifestyle in general, but also during a time when your body is changing and your energy, nutrition and rest is vital to you as well as the unborn child.
In a study of women with and without RLS it was found that women with RLS symptoms during pregnancy had lower hemoglobin levels and iron deficiencies, as well as vitamin deficiencies all of these issues tend to be risk factors for RLS in pregnancy. As is to be expected, women who are pregnant and did not suffer from RLS had higher hemoglobin levels as well sufficient iron and vitamins in their system. With this information it is important for doctors to inform expectant mothers the importance of taking pre-natal vitamins to keep their iron levels at a normal level.
RLS during pregnancy is often unrecognized, usually due to fears of the side effects caused medications so they do not seek care. RLS medications are have not been proven safe for use during pregnancy, should symptoms become more severe, however, medications can be used, but doctors will wait until the last tri-mester to lessen the chance of complications with the unborn child.
In this case a doctor may prescribe a low-potency opioid, which is believed to the be most effective treatment. The first choice for relief, however, is lifestyle changes, such as cutting back on caffeine, taking a warm bath, leg massage, or not laying down until it is time for bed as simply laying down can triggers symptoms. For less severe case of RLS and symptoms, they will often disappear within the first 4 weeks after giving birth.